> Weekly Torah Portion > Beginner > Art of Revelation

Water From the Rock

Chukat (Numbers 19:1-22:1 )

by Yoram and Meira Raanan

"Water from the Rock," 2015, acrylic on canvas, 208 x 170 cm.

God spoke to Moses, saying: "Take the staff and assemble the congregation… and speak to the rock in their presence so that it will give forth its water. You shall bring forth water for them from the rock and give the congregation and their livestock to drink." Moses raised his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice; when an abundance of water gushed forth, the congregation and their livestock drank. (Numbers 20:7-8, 11)

While the new generation is preparing to enter Israel, Miriam dies, "Miriam's Well" disappears, and there is a sudden lack of water. The people complain. God tells Moses to take his staff, speak to the rock and command it to bring forth water. At this crucial moment, instead of speaking to the stone, Moses raises his staff and strikes the rock twice. The painting portrays Moses at the moment of anger when he fails to "make God holy" in the eyes of the people and so forfeits his chance to enter the Promised Land.

In this larger-than-life canvas, the force of the water rushes out from a deep hidden cistern, pouring over craggy, jagged stones. It almost sweeps away the blue, watery figure of Moses, flooded with frustration and sadness, who seems to be losing his equilibrium. The name of this place is Mei Merivah, Waters of Contention.

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