"Nasah" means "to test", or possibly in this case, to poke with a stick. In Matthew 4:7, our Messiah is quoted with the Greek word, "ek-pir-odz-zoe" which is to test thoroughly with the idea of pushing one to the edge.
It is worth pointing out that this one place is given two names. These are not two different locations; but one spot that has been given two names. "Massah" means "to test" or "trial". "Meribah" means "to quarrel".
James would have had words for these people. A lot of times we have legitimate concerns. It’s not the identifying of our needs that is a problem; butthe way we go about finding a solution.
From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
(James 4:1-2 KJV)
Through Moses, God reminds the people that He is the source of power, not only for destruction but also of providence. He said to "take the staff which you used on the river" for the purpose of taking away water so that the people would become thirsty, and "strike the rock."
Legend has it that Moses struck the rock once and blood came. He struck it a second time and pure water. Those of us reading from a New Testament perspective begin to tingle a bit:
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
(1 Corinthians 10:1-4 KJV)
There’s a wonderful story in the book of 2nd Kings about Elijah and King Ahab, where King Ahab sends a captain and fifty men to retrieve Elijah by whatever means necessary. The captain demanded that "the man of God" come with him to see the king. And the fire of God rained down upon them and killed all his men. Ahab sent a second captain and fifty with the same result. The third captain shows up and sees a hundred and two fried ink spots all over the place. He looks up at Elijah and says, "Look, I’ve got a wife and kids. And if I return without you Ahab will kill me. Would you mind, please, coming along?" (2nd Kings 1)
The manner in which we approach the Most High has a huge affect upon our relationship with Him. Do we come, asking in faith, or do we poke at Him with a stick? Messiah reminds us that our Father knows what needs we have, even before we ask of Him. We are more precious to Him than many sparrows. (Matthew 7:7-11, Matthew 10:31). If we are thirsty, it could be that He is simply wanting us to ask, just so that we understand that He is the provider of all our needs. Yet, in many cases, we pass by that opportunity and resent Him for not offering us what we need. A friend of mine has a T-shirt that describes the relationship handily. It reads, "I’m your father, not an ATM."
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim. (Exodus 17:8 KJV)
There are two different Amalekites in the historical record. The first is noted as those living in this region when Abraham passed through (Genesis 14:7). The second is the grandson of Esau (Genesis 36:12). Given the location of the battle that will ensue, the aggressors are likely the former. "Edom", the land given to the descendants of Esau, is on the West side of Southern Israel, not the Sinai Peninsula.