Day 68: The Waters of Meribah

Numbers 19:1-22 Rituals of purification are discussed here, beginning with the holocaust of a red heifer. (MOOOO) Because it was an atonement rite that took place outside the camp, some Church Fathers saw this as a TYPE of Christ (TYPOLOGY!!), whose redemptive sacrificial Death on the Cross occurred outside the walls of Jerusalem. The ritual for purification of one who had touched a dead body involved a cleansing with water; although hygiene might have been a partial consideration, the spirit behind this law was linked to the need for a profound respect for God’s power over life and death.

Ch 20:1-13 The Exodus account (cf. Ex 17:1-17) faults the people for LOSING FAITH AND DEMANDING A MIRACLE, whereas in Numbers Moses is reproached for having struck the rock twice in anger to draw the water rather than TELLING the rock to bring out water as God had ordered; for this transgression God did  not allow Moses or Aaron to enter the Promised Land. The water from the rock prefigures (TYPOLOGY!!) the “living water” of Baptism symbolized by the water and Blood flowing from Christ’s open side on the Cross. (CCC 694, 2119)

Ch 20:14-21 The Edomites were descendants of Esau, who was Jacob/Israel’s twin brother and the one from whom he obtained the birthright (FOR BEANS!!). Their enmity was so great, however, that repeated requests to the king of Edom to allow the Israelites to pass peacefully through the land were denied, forcing a major detour.

Ch 20:22-29 Aaron was “gathered to his people,” a euphemism for death that hints at the afterlife and suggests a bond among the faithful who had died. His position as high priest was ceremoniously transferred to his son Eleazar.

Deuteronomy 21:22 This teaching may explain why the Jewish authorities wanted the Roman centurions to break the legs of Christ on the Cross as well as those crucified with him: so that they might die and be taken down from the crosses before nightfall (cf. Jn 19:31-33). To leave a body hanging overnight would have rendered the entire city unclean, thus making the celebration of Passover illicit. 

Psalm 100

In this psalm St. John Paul II identified seven “imperatives [that] called the faithful community to celebrate and worship the God of love and of the covenant.” These imperatives include:

These incisive phrases capture both the dispositions and the essential ways of addressing God, especially in liturgical prayer. Appropriately, the psalm ends with a rousing exaltation of God, expressed in thanksgiving and adoration for his benevolence, his steadfast love, and his faithfulness. (Cf. St. John Paul II, General Audience, January 8, 2003) 

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Moses and Water from the Rock 

Christ the Rock 

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Key Event 27: Moses Strikes the Rock (Numbers 20:1-13)

In response to Israel’s thirst, God directs Moses to strike a rock, and water gushes forth (Ex 17). Later, in a similar situation, God instructs Moses to “tell” the rock to yield its water (Num 20), but Moses instead strikes the rock twice, seemingly because of a lapse of faith (Num 20:12). The water flowing from the rock PREFIGURES (TYPOLOGY!!) the gift of the Holy Spirit, which flows from the crucified and risen Jesus (see Jn 7:37-38, 19:34; 1 Cor 10:4)

Numbers 19: 

Prayer by Fr. Mike: “Father in Heaven, we know that you are good and you are faithful and that your faithfulness does endure for all generations. We ask that you help us to be faithful. Lord God, help us to see your faithfulness, your mercy, your justice, your truth, your goodness in all of your words. We ask you please to allow your Word to shape our eyes, our minds, our vision, and shape our hearts. Help us to love what you love and hate what you hate. Above all, help us to love you and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”


It seems unfair that, after all Moses has done, and after all the complaints he's had to put up with, his lashing out in anger cost him entering the Promised Land.  Yet as Jesus said after the parable of the faithfiul and wicked stewards, "to whom much is given, of him will much be required."

A reminder of who the Edomites are, the bad history that may have motivated them to refuse Israel passage through their land, and how Herod and Jesus fit.

The Washing of Hands in correlation to being innocent of an innocent man's blood links to Pontius Pilate, who washed his hands and declared his innocence of Christ's blood, whom he called, "righteous." While Deuteronomy 21 includes a prayer by Israel about not being being held guilty over innocent blood, Israel willingly accepts the guilt when putting Christ to death saying, "his blood be upon our hands."

The fate of a man serving a death penalty by hanging on a tree also came the mercy of being taken down before evening of the same day and given a burial. John's account of the Crucifixion appears to tie this detail of his death to this passage best.