supports, one of the stations of the Israelites, situated in the Wady Feiran, near its junction with the Wady esh-Sheikh. Here no water could be found for the people to drink, and in their impatience they were ready to stone Moses, as if he were the cause of their distress. At the command of God Moses smote "the rock in Horeb," and a copious stream flowed forth, enough for all the people. After this the Amalekites attacked the Israelites while they were here encamped, but they were utterly defeated (Ex. 17:1, 8-16). They were the "first of the nations" to make war against Israel (Num. 24:20).
Leaving Rephidim, the Israelites advanced into the wilderness of Sinai (Ex. 19:1, 2; Num. 33:14, 15), marching probably through the two passes of the Wady Solaf and the Wady esh-Sheikh, which converge at the entrance to the plain er-Rahah, the "desert of Sinai," which is two miles long and about half a mile broad. (See SINAI; MERIBAH.)
(Exodus 17:1,8; 19:2) The name means rests or stays , i.e. resting places. The place lies in the march of the Israelites from Egypt to Sinai. Its site is not certain, but it is perhaps Wady Feiran , a rather broad valley about 25 miles from Jebel Musa (Mount Sinai). Others place it in Wady es Sheikh , an eastern continuation of Feiran, and about 12 miles from Sinai. Here the Israelites fought their first battle and gained their first victory after leaving Egypt, the Amalekites having attacked them; here also the people murmured from thirst, and Moses brought water for them out of the rock. From this murmuring the place was called "Massah" and "Meribah."
REPHIDIM - ref'-i-dim (rephidhim, "rests"; Rhaphidin): A station in the Wanderings, between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai (Ex 17:1,8; 19:2; Nu 33:14). The host expected to find water here; to their distress the streams were dry, and water was miraculously provided. Palmer (Desert of the Exodus, 158 ff) states cogent reasons for identifying Rephidim with Wady Feiran. It is the most fertile part of the peninsula, well watered, with a palm grove stretching for miles along the valley. Palmer speaks of passing through the palm grove as a "most delightful" walk; "the tall, graceful trees afforded a delicious shade, fresh water ran at our feet, and, above all, bulbuls flitted from branch to branch uttering their sweet notes." His camp was pitched at "the mouth of Wady `Aleyat, a large open space completely surrounded by steep, shelving mountains of gneiss, the fantastic cleavage of which added greatly to the beauty of the scene. Palms and tamarisks were dotted all around, and on every knoll and mountain slope were ruined houses, churches, and walls, the relics of the ancient monastic city of Paran. Behind our tents rose the majestic mass of Serbal, and beneath the rocky wall opposite ran a purling brook, only a few inches in depth, but still sufficiently cool, clear, and refreshing."
Such a place as this the Amalekites would naturally wish to preserve for themselves against an invading people. For these desert dwellers, indeed, the possession of this watered vale may well have been a matter of life and death.
If this identification is correct, then Jebel Tachuneh, "Mount of the mill," a height that rises on the North of the valley, may have been the hill from which Moses, with Aaron and Hur, viewed the battle.