20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.
21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.
23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.
24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?
25 And he cried unto the Lord; and the Lord shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,
26 And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the Lord that healeth thee.
27 And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.
K.J.V. Bible Text
In her elation at the escape across the Red Sea, the prophetess Miriam began to dance with a timbrel in her hand and all the other women joined her. Miriam encouraged them to sing the praises of the Lord for their deliverance from the sea and for the Lord causing the Egyptian pursuers to be swallowed up in the same sea.
However, a few days later, the traveling Hebrews came to Marah where the waters were bitter and could not be drunk. The people talked against Moses and asked what they would drink.
Moses cried unto the Lord and the Lord showed him a certain tree to cast into the water. The water then became good to drink.
The Lord then promised the people that if they would listen to his voice and do right in His sight, he would bring upon them none of the diseases that had plagued the Egyptians.
Later on the people reached Elim where there were twelve wells and seventy trees. They camped by the water.
This whole story shows how the Hebrews, formerly slaves of the Egyptians, were unable to maintain faith when there were setbacks. When things were going well, like children, they sang and danced. When there was a problem they looked at Moses and demanded he find a solution. Yet the Lord patiently led them onward. Perhaps this dependence upon a leader was a legacy of having been slaves so
long. Perhaps this was part of the hardship of Egypt from which the Lord realized they needed to be saved.
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