Chukat – Torah In Haiku


The humble Moses …
Suddenly is arrogant …
God is not happy —

Numbers 20:10-12
Moses and Aaron assembled the congregation in front of the rock; and he said to them, “Listen, you rebels, shall we get water for you out of this rock?” And Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod. Out came copious water, and the community and their beasts drank. But God said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not have enough faith in Me to affirm My sanctity in the sight of the Israelite people, therefore you shall not lead this congregation into the land that I have given them.”

The text has God complaining about lack of faith (“trust” in some translations) but the key word in this passage is “we”. Moses is considered particularly humble – initially resisting God’s call to lead the people before Pharaoh and on the way to the Promised Land.

In this case he seems to have faith – otherwise why would he believe striking the rock would work better than speaking to it, as commanded by God, to bring forth water? But he takes credit, saying “shall we get water for you”, apparently referring to himself and his brother Aaron.

Moses seems to be angry at the people – calling them “rebels”. But God is also angry, and forbids Moses from leading the people into the land.

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by Ed Nickow •

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