|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Quarrel or strife.
(1.) One of the names given by Moses to the fountain in the desert of Sin, near Rephidim, which issued from the rock in Horeb, which he smote by the divine command, "because of the chiding of the children of Israel" (Exodus 17:1-7). It was also called Massah (q.v.). It was probably in Wady Feiran, near Mount Serbal.
(2.) Another fountain having a similar origin in the desert of Zin, near to Kadesh (Numbers 27:14). The two places are mentioned together in Deuteronomy 33:8. Some think the one place is called by the two names (Psalm 81:7). In smiting the rock at this place Moses showed the same impatience as the people (Numbers 20:10-12). This took place near the close of the wanderings in the desert (Numbers 20:1-24; Deuteronomy 32:51).
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
MASSAH AND MERIBAH
mas'-a, mer'-i-ba (maccah umeribhah, "proving and strife"; peirasmos kai loidoresis): These names occur together as applied to one place only in Exodus 17:7; they stand, however, in parallelism in Deuteronomy 33:8 Psalm 95:8. In all other cases they are kept distinct, as belonging to two separate narratives. The conjunction here may be due to conflation of the sources. Of course, it is not impossible that, for the reason stated, the double name was given, although elsewhere (Deuteronomy 6:16; Deuteronomy 9:22) the place is referred to as Massah.
1. First Instance:
This scene is laid in Exodus 17:1 at REPHIDIM (which see) and in 17:6 at HOREB (which see). It is near the beginning of the desert wanderings. In dearth of water the people murmur and complain. Moses, appealing to God, is told what to do. He takes with him the elders of Israel, and smites with his rod the rock on which the Lord stands in Horeb, whereupon water gushes forth, and the people drink. Here Moses alone is God's agent. There is no hint of blame attaching to him. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because of the of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord (17:7). In some way not indicated, here and at Meribah, God put the Levites to proof (Deuteronomy 33:8).
2. Second Instance:
The second narrative describes what took place at Kadesh (i.e. "Kadesh-barnea") when the desert wanderings were nearly over (Numbers 20:1-13). The flow of water from the famous spring for some reason had ceased. In their distress the people became impatient and petulant. At the door of the tent of meeting Moses and Aaron received the Lord's instructions. In his speech of remonstrance to the people Moses seemed to glorify himself and his brother; and instead of speaking to the rock as God had commanded, he struck it twice with his rod. The flow of water was at once restored; but Moses and Aaron were heavily punished because they did not sanctify God in the eyes of the children of Israel. The "Waters of Meribah" was the name given to this scene of strife. The incident is referred to in Numbers 20:24, and Deuteronomy 32:51 (merobhath qadhesh, the King James Version "Meribah-Kadesh," the Revised Version (British and American) "Meribah of Kadesh"). In Psalm 81:7 God appears as having tested Israel here. The sin of Israel and the ensuing calamity to Moses are alluded to in Psalm 106:32.
The place appears in Ezekiel 47:19; Ezekiel 48:28, as on the southern border of the land of Israel, in the former as "Meriboth-kadesh," in the latter as "Meribath-kadesh" (Meriboth = plural Meribath = "construct singular") where the position indicated is that of `Ain Qadis, "Kadesh-barnea."
In Deuteronomy 33:2, by a slight emendation of the text we might read meribhoth qadhesh for meribhebhoth qodhesh. This gives a preferable sense.
See MASSAH AND MERIBAH.
Meribah (11 Occurrences)
Exodus 17:7 He called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because the children of Israel quarreled, and because they tested Yahweh, saying, "Is Yahweh among us, or not?" (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Numbers 20:13 These are the waters of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with Yahweh, and he was sanctified in them. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Numbers 20:24 "Aaron shall be gathered to his people; for he shall not enter into the land which I have given to the children of Israel, because you rebelled against my word at the waters of Meribah. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Numbers 27:14 because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the waters before their eyes." (These are the waters of Meribah of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin.) (WEB KJV ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Deuteronomy 32:51 because you trespassed against me in the midst of the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah of Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you didn't sanctify me in the midst of the children of Israel. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS NAS NIV)
Deuteronomy 33:8 Of Levi he said, "Your Thummim and your Urim are with your godly one, whom you proved at Massah, with whom you strove at the waters of Meribah; (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Psalms 81:7 You called in trouble, and I delivered you. I answered you in the secret place of thunder. I tested you at the waters of Meribah." Selah. (WEB KJV JPS ASV BBE DBY WBS YLT NAS NIV)
Psalms 95:8 Don't harden your heart, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness, (WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY YLT NAS NIV)
Psalms 106:32 They angered him also at the waters of Meribah, so that Moses was troubled for their sakes; (WEB JPS ASV BBE DBY YLT NAS NIV)
Ezekiel 47:19 And the south side southward, from Tamar to the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, by the torrent, unto the great sea: This is the south side southward. (DBY NIV)
Ezekiel 48:28 And by the border of Gad, at the south side southward, the border shall be from Tamar to the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, by the torrent, unto the great sea. (DBY NIV)