1 And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of Yahweh, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.

Rephidim is noted for its clusters of palm trees which extend for several kilometres, and are fed by subterraneous springs. Thus the Israelites would find every evidence of fertility, but no water, for it is hidden under the earth. Similarly the "living waters" are not discerned except by faith (Jn. 4:14).

The Christadelphian Expositor

2 Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt Yahweh?

3 And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

The people, not yet tamed by the discipline which afterwards subdued them, became unmanageable on the subject. They gathered round Moses and upbraided him...It was not he who had brought them into that predicament, except as an obedient instrument...

But a headstrong people, goaded by want, are impervious to the appeals of reason. Moses did not know what to do in the midst of their turbulence, and in the face of their manifest need of water...

4 And Moses cried unto Yahweh, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.

The smiting of The Rock - (cutting off Messiah)

5 And Yahweh said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.

And if Moses had had no other than his own resources, he never could have got out of the difficulty. How can mortal man provide water in an arid wilderness? And how can leadership be maintained in the absence of the commonest wants of nature? As already remarked, the whole affair must have ended in blank disaster if it had been a human enterprise. But it was not a human, but a divine enterprise.

Visible Hand of God Ch 15

6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Having been baptized into Moses they looked to him for meat and drink. The angel had brought them out by his hand into a waste and howling wilderness, under a promise to give them a land flowing with milk and honey. But after three days the nation found itself without water; and though soon after they found some, it was so bitter they could not drink it. And they murmured against Moses.

The Lord heard them and healed the waters. A month after their departure from Egypt, their provision failed them. Again they murmured against Moses and his prophet; and turned back in their hearts to the land of their affliction. But God heard them, and gave them bread and meat to the full, and continued to them this sustenance for forty years [Ex.16:35], until they came to the borders of the land of Canaan.

One would have supposed that after giving them bread from heaven all their murmurings would have ceased. But when they came to Rephidim and found no water they murmured again, and were ready to stone Moses, and tempted God...

Though the manna still fell, the rebellious-hearted Israelites questioned the presence of the Lord among them! Though tempted, He still bore with them; but yet was angry with Moses for their sakes. He commanded him to go to the rock in Horeb, on the top of which he would take his stand. He was then to smite it, and to speak to the rock before their eyes, that it might give forth water...

These incidents had a secondary import which is found in the antitypes of the forty-second generation. Thousands of Israelites and Gentiles believed the gospel of the kingdom, and were baptized into Christ.

As a whole they constituted "a holy nation" -- a nation within the nation -- which fed upon the true bread of heaven, and drank of the water of life by faith in the things of Christ.

But they were and are still strangers and sojourners in the world, which to them is like the wilderness of Arabia to Israel of the fourth generation. But there have been multitudes in Christ, as there were in Moses, who did run well but were afterwards hindred. They turned back in their hearts to Egypt, loving the present world, and not having faith enough to get the mastery over it.

Now, the apostle likens such to those of the fourth generation who were murmurers, and faithless, and whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, from which they will never arise to enter the land of Israel under Shiloh. "They did all eat the same spiritual meat," says he; "and did all drink the same spititual drink; for they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them: and that rock was (or represented) Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness.

 "Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted" (1 Cor. 10:3-6).

Their faith was addressed through sensible objects; ours through written testimony. But for the most part professors look not beyond "the things which are seen and temporal." Whether in Moses, or professedly in Christ, they are mere creatures of sensation, who walk by sight and not by faith.

Let us, reader, not be of this number; but let us rejoice in hope of the promise made to the fathers, though at present it seemeth not to the eye of sense to grow. "If a man eat of this bread (the spiritual) he shall live in the Age (EIS TON AIONA);" and, drinking of the blood of Christ, which is the spiritual drink represented by Horeb's stream, the Rock of Israel will raise him up at the last day to life in the age to come (EIS ZOEN AIONION.) But if, after their example, we love the present world, though we may have believed and obeyed the truth in the beginning, we shall come under the sentence of exclusion from 

"the rest which remains for the people of God."

Elpis Israel 2.4.

Paul tells us here that the rock struck by Moses to provide water represented Christ. He was smitten by the rod, or Law of Moses, in order to provide a way of life. He came under the curse of the Law and broke it open to free those held in bondage by the Law. And it was the Levites, the tribe of Moses the custodians of the Law, who smote him. They were the divinely-appointed "rod of Moses," for they were the administrators of Moses' Law, confirmed in this office by the rod of the tribe of Levi being caused to blossom (Num. 17:8).

The incident of smiting the rock occurred at Rephidim, which was the last stop before reaching Mt. Sinai. Maps usually place it in the immediate Mt. Sinai region. The point is this. Paul says here that this rock "followed them." What did he mean? The most reasonable meaning seems to be that the stream caused by the smiting of the rock followed them from Rephidim to Sinai, where they stayed a whole year.

The smiting of the rock was a very significant and important event. It is reasonable that it is associated with their whole stay at Sinai, which was the most important year in their entire history.

The brook from the mount

If this be the case, it gives added harmony and meaning to Moses' action of grinding up the golden calf and casting the dust of it into the "brook that descended out of the mount," and making the people drink it (Ex. 32:20; Deut. 9:21). The water of life from the Rock, defiled by the sin of the people, would have the same significance as the brazen serpent-sin's flesh-lifted up to typify the nailing of the body of sin to the cross. In the one case the people had to drink, in the other to look with faith.

"He that believeth in me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water" (Jn. 7:38).

John immediately explains that Jesus referred to the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, which was dependent upon Jesus' crucifixion and ascension. He says the Spirit was not given because Christ was not yet glorified. Jesus himself said-

"If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you." (Jn. 16:7),

The Spirit-streams could not be poured forth until the Rock was smitten, just as the seals of the apocalyptic scroll could not be loosed until the Lamb was found worthy to loose them. The sacrificial death of Jesus, his glorious victory over, and destruction of, the sin-flesh-devil, was the great key that unlock-ed the treasures of spiritual blessing bound up in the Rock.

"He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men" (Eph. 4:8).

There is another interesting aspect to the water-supplying rock. We are familiar with Jesus' identification as the foundation-rock of the spiritual Temple-the rejected and smitten stone that was made head of the corner. Now the smitten rock, we are told was "in Horeb" (Ex. 17:6). The first time Horeb is mentioned it is called the "Mountain of God" (Ex. 3:1). Horeb is another name for Sinai.

living waters from the house of god

So we can trace a parallel here between the old and new covenants-Sinai and Jerusalem. The rock was smitten in Mt. Horeb or Sinai, and the water of life came forth and sustained the people while the Law was being given to them and the first Tabernacle was being built. This was the typical Mosaic shadow enacted at Sinai-the founding and organization of the natural Israelitish Kingdom of God.

Similarly, the true, anti-typical Rock was smitten at Mt. Moriah at Jerusalem. From this mountain-"beginning at Jerusalem" (Lk. 24:47)-the Spirit poured forth carrying the Gospel to the ends of the world. Furthermore, we are told that when the new Kingdom is set up, living waters-both literal and spiritual-will issue forth from here. 

At this mountain in the future, as at Sinai in the past, the Tabernacle of God-both literal and spiritual-will be built. Joel (3:18), Zechariah (14:8), and Ezekiel (47:1) all speak of the literal streams that will come from the foundations of the Temple, and the river of water of life of the last chapter of Revelation gives the spiritual counterpart. And finally, through the Prophet like unto Moses, the new Law will go forth from this mountain to all the earth.

Bro Growcott - The Smitten Rock

11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand [to the heavenlies], that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.

Heart fixed on Yahweh prevails over the flesh...Thoughts turn earthwards and the flesh (Amalek prevails).

So must we always have our eye towards the upholder of heaven and earth, in everything give thanks, and make our requests known unto God. The disposition so to do will grow with the reading of the word.

Bro Roberts - Sober reflection

The Yahweh nissi altar - He shall be my Ensign

15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Yahweh nissi:

The Altar of Burnt-Offering prefigured the Messiah's Body in sacrificial manifestation.

The idea of an altar of sacrifice representing a personal and divine plurality is frequent in Scripture. Thus, Jacob erected an altar at Shalem, in the land of Canaan, and called it AIL-ELOHAI YISRAAIL, that is, the "Strength of the Mighty Ones of Israel" (Gen. 33:20); and Moses, before the law was given, and in memory of the victory of Joshua over Amalek, "built an altar, and called the name of it YAHWEH-NISSI"; that is,

He shall be my Ensign--

He who was symbolized by the altar (Exod. 17:15; Isa. 11:10, 12; 18:3; 31:9; Zech. 9:16).

This Yahweh-nissi-altar was superseded by an altar overlaid with plates of brass. These plates represented "the flesh of sin" purified by fiery-trial.

Phanerosis - And At His Feet As The Aspect Of Glowing Brass