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Deuteronomy 6:16

Context
Exhortation to Obey the Lord Exclusively

6:16 You must not put the Lord your God to the test as you did at Massah. 1 

Deuteronomy 9:22

Context
9:22 Moreover, you continued to provoke the Lord at Taberah, 2  Massah, 3  and Kibroth-Hattaavah. 4 

Deuteronomy 33:8

Context
Blessing on Levi

33:8 Of Levi he said:

Your Thummim and Urim 5  belong to your godly one, 6 

whose authority you challenged at Massah, 7 

and with whom you argued at the waters of Meribah. 8 

1 sn The place name Massah (מַסָּה, massah) derives from a root (נָסָה, nasah) meaning “to test; to try.” The reference here is to the experience in the Sinai desert when Moses struck the rock to obtain water (Exod 17:1-2). The complaining Israelites had, thus, “tested” the Lord, a wickedness that gave rise to the naming of the place (Exod 17:7; cf. Deut 9:22; 33:8).

2 sn Taberah. By popular etymology this derives from the Hebrew verb בָעַר (baar, “to burn”), thus, here, “burning.” The reference is to the Lord’s fiery wrath against Israel because of their constant complaints against him (Num 11:1-3).

3 sn Massah. See note on this term in Deut 6:16.

4 sn Kibroth-Hattaavah. This place name means in Hebrew “burial places of appetite,” that is, graves that resulted from overindulgence. The reference is to the Israelites stuffing themselves with the quail God had provided and doing so with thanklessness (Num 11:31-35).

5 sn Thummim and Urim. These terms, whose meaning is uncertain, refer to sacred stones carried in a pouch on the breastplate of the high priest and examined on occasion as a means of ascertaining God’s will or direction. See Exod 28:30; Lev 8:8; Num 27:21; 1 Sam 28:6. See also C. Van Dam, NIDOTTE 1:329-31.

6 tn Heb “godly man.” The reference is probably to Moses as representative of the whole tribe of Levi.

7 sn Massah means “testing” in Hebrew; the name is a wordplay on what took place there. Cf. Exod 17:7; Deut 6:16; 9:22; Ps 95:8-9.

8 sn Meribah means “contention, argument” in Hebrew; this is another wordplay on the incident that took place there. Cf. Num 20:13, 24; Ps 106:32.



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