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Document Details :

Title: The Rephidim Episode according to Josephus and Philo
Author(s): BEGG, Christopher T.
Journal: Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses
Volume: 83    Issue: 4   Date: 2007   
Pages: 367-383
DOI: 10.2143/ETL.83.4.2025343

Abstract :
Exod 17,1-7 relates a water miracle accomplished through the use of Moses’ staff at a desert site called “Rephidim”. This article offers a close reading of the rewritings of this story by Josephus (Ant. 3.33-38) and Philo (Mos. 1.210-213) and a concluding comparison of their two versions. Both authors, it emerged, eliminate such features of the Scriptural account as Moses’ ineffectual response to the refractory people, God’s declaration about his “standing before” Moses on the rock at Horeb, and the closing etiological notice of Exod 17,7 with its “downbeat” emphasis on the people’s recalcitrance. Both likewise introduce explicit mention of Moses’ actual striking the rock and highlight the miraculous effects of this, i.e. the emergence of plentiful good water. On the other hand, Josephus makes fairly detailed use of the biblical data, utilizing, e.g., its citation of Moses’ appeal to the Deity and the latter’s reply to him which Philo, respectively, simply omits or reduces to a passing allusion. Philo’s focus, by contrast, is not on the “facts” of the story, but rather on the (theological and psychological) reflections these suggest and to which, in fact, he devotes the bulk of his rendition.

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