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by Wayne Blank
They should have known better; The Lord had just days before miraculously fed them with manna (Exodus 16:31). But, when they then ran out of water, the carnal-minded people again ran out of what little faith that they had (it was their lack of faith that made their journey much longer than it needed to have been, and for many, a journey that was never completed - see the Fact Finder question below). Nevertheless, another miracle was provided to them, through Moses :
"And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of The Lord [see Rock Of Ages], and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink."
With the water problem solved, they then came under attack by the Amalekites. The battle was taken up by Israelites under the command of Joshua, keeping in mind that Moses was then over 80 years old - without doubt still formidable (considering that he lived to 120), but the field of battle has always been a place for young men (most of the best battlefield commanders tend to be in their 30s and 40s, while most of the best battlefield troops are in their late teens and 20s; lots of hutzpah, but not yet too many memories and lessons of the consequences of it, that sometimes results in excessive caution later - young men win battles, old men win wars). That's not to say that Moses wasn't involved in the engagement; he well-served the role of a headquarters general and strategist, overseeing the success of the operation from the high ground:
"Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand."
From their encampment at Rephidim, the Israelites proceeded to Mount Sinai:
"In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.For they were departed from Rephidim, and were come to the desert of Sinai, and had pitched in the wilderness; and there Israel camped before the mount." (Exodus 19:1-2 KJV)
Fact Finder: Why did almost none of the adult Israelites who came out of Egypt in the Exodus make it to the Promised Land? Why did they spend 40 years on a journey that could have been completed in 40 days?