It is said they came to Rephidim which is between the wilderness of sin and Sinai and complained about water.Moses took them to Horeb which somehow seems to be same as Sinai and gave them water from the rock

Exodus 17:5-6 NIV

5 The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.

After the giving of water the narrative returns back to Rephidim where they fought against Amalekites

Exodus 17:8 NIV

8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.

Aterwards it is said they journeyed from Rephidim to the wilderness of Sinai in front of the mountain.

Exodus 19:2 NIV

2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Did Moses take them to Horeb and back to Rephidim?

  • Yet another excellent question, collen. (Upvoted +1.) My own understanding is that 'Sinai' and 'Horeb' are the same mountain but viewed differently, that is to say viewed as either one covenant, the old, or the other, a covenant yet to come. Even in the giving of the tables of stone, there are glimpses of the new testament upon the mountain (the seventy elders for example). But I wait for more competent exegesis, before I consider launching forth myself.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 7:45
  • I dont think so. Reph-i-dim = pher-i-mid = pyramids
    – R. Emery
    Commented Sep 10, 2020 at 9:57

2 Answers 2


There is a very widespread view (not quite universal) that Mt Horeb and Mt Sinai are two names for the same mountain. One can see this by looking (for example) at Ex 3:1 which has (reflecting the Hebrew) "Mt Horeb" but some versions (eg, NLT, CEV) have "Sinai".

It is also suggested by the fact that when the Israelites left Egypt they camped at Mt Sinai (Ex 16:1, 19:1, 2, 11, 18, 20, 23, etc) and is also called "Horeb" in Ex 17:6, 33:6, Deut 1:2, 6, 19, 4:10, 15, 5:2, etc.

The maps in my UBS4, UBS5, NA27, NA28 also names Mt Sinai and Mt Horeb as the same place. BDB arrives at the same conclusion by saying of Mt Horeb:

... the sacred mountain of the wilderness, no geographical difference from סִינַי discoverable

Apparently, "Rephidim" was the name of the desert in front of Mt Sinai/Horeb.


In Exodus 17, Did Moses take Israelites to Horeb and back to Rephidim? - Yes.

Moshe did take Yisraelites to drink from Massah at cHorev. Fom cHorev (חֹרֵ֥ב), Moshe ordered Yehoshua to prepare for battle against Amalek at Rephidim (בִּרְפִידִֽם).

  1. Define "Horeb". What is Mount Horeb & what does "cHorev" actually mean in Ivri ? "Horeb" in English refers to Mount "cHorev" (חֹרֵ֥ב) found in the Torah : [Shemot 3:1, Shemot 33:6, Devarim 9:8].

In Ivri, "cHorev" (חרב) means "Destroyed".

  • Moshe (Moses) is making a Hebrew pun in Shemot (Exodus) 33:6 & Devarim (Deuteronomy) 9:8 in regards to the "Destroyed" Mountain at which God's Wrath helped purify Yisraelites from finery wealth/idols. - Obedient Yisraelites symbolically avoiding 'Destruction' by throwing away worldly possessions to focus on worship at "cHorev" - the "Destroyed "mountain where God would destroy wealth & give Yisrael His 10 Commandments.
Devarim 9:8 [MT] "At cHorev, you angered YHVH, and YHVH was incensed with you to destroy you." (וּבְחֹרֵ֥ב הִקְצַפְתֶּ֖ם אֶת־יְהֹוָ֑ה וַיִּתְאַנַּ֧ף יְהֹוָ֛ה בָּכֶ֖ם לְהַשְׁמִ֥יד אֶתְכֶֽם)

2. Does Moshe take Yisraelites to Mount cHorev in Shemot 17?

In Exodus 17:5-6 [MT], YHVH instructs Moshe to take the Yisraelites to cHorev.

Shemot 17:5 [MT] : "And YHVH said to Moshe, Pass before the people and take with you of the elders of Yisrael, and take into your hand your staff, with which you struck the Nile, and go." (וַיֹּ֨אמֶר יְהֹוָ֜ה אֶל־משֶׁ֗ה עֲבֹר֙ לִפְנֵ֣י הָעָ֔ם וְקַ֥ח אִתְּךָ֖ מִזִּקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל וּמַטְּךָ֗ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הִכִּ֤יתָ בּוֹ֙ אֶת־הַיְאֹ֔ר קַ֥ח בְּיָֽדְךָ֖ וְהָלָֽכְתָּ)
Shemot 17:6 [MT] : "Behold, I shall stand there before you on the rock in cHorev, and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, and the people will drink Moshe did so before the eyes of the elders of Yisrael." (הִנְנִ֣י עֹמֵד֩ לְפָנֶ֨יךָ שָּׁ֥ם | עַל־הַצּוּר֘ בְּחֹרֵב֒ וְהִכִּ֣יתָ בַצּ֗וּר וְיָֽצְא֥וּ מִמֶּ֛נּוּ מַ֖יִם וְשָׁתָ֣ה הָעָ֑ם וַיַּ֤עַשׂ כֵּן֙ משֶׁ֔ה לְעֵינֵ֖י זִקְנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל )

3. What did Moshe call the place where the Yisraelites drank water from the rock?

  • Massah (מַסָּ֖ה)

Shemot 17:7 [MT]: "He named the place Massah [testing] and Meribah [quarreling] because of the quarrel of the children of Yisrael and because of their testing YHVH, saying, Is YHVH in our midst or not?" ( וַיִּקְרָא֙ שֵׁ֣ם הַמָּק֔וֹם מַסָּ֖ה וּמְרִיבָ֑ה עַל־רִ֣יב | בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל וְעַ֨ל נַסֹּתָ֤ם אֶת־יְהֹוָה֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הֲיֵ֧שׁ יְהֹוָ֛ה בְּקִרְבֵּ֖נוּ אִם־אָֽיִן)

While at the Massah side of cHorev, Moshe hears news that Amalek had arrived in Rephidim to challenge the Yisraelites. - So from cHorev, Moshe sends Yehoshua to go & defend Yisrael.

Shemot 17:8 [MT] "Amalek came and fought with Yisrael in Rephidim." (וַיָּבֹ֖א עֲמָלֵ֑ק וַיִּלָּ֥חֶם עִם־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל בִּרְפִידִֽם )

Shemot 17:9 [MT] "So Moshe said to Yehoshua, Pick men for us, and go out and fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand" ( וַיֹּ֨אמֶר משֶׁ֤ה אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֨עַ֙ בְּחַר־לָ֣נוּ אֲנָשִׁ֔ים וְצֵ֖א הִלָּחֵ֣ם בַּֽעֲמָלֵ֑ק מָחָ֗ר אָֽנֹכִ֤י נִצָּב֙ עַל־רֹ֣אשׁ הַגִּבְעָ֔ה וּמַטֵּ֥ה הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים בְּיָדִֽי )

Moshe did take Yisraelites to drink from Massah at cHorev. Fom cHorev (חֹרֵ֥ב), Moshe ordered Yehoshua to prepare for battle against Amalek at Rephidim (בִּרְפִידִֽם).

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