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International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
ref´i - dim ( רפידים , rephı̄dhı̄m , "rests"; Ῥαφιδίν , Rhaphidin ): A station in the Wanderings, between the wilderness of Sin and the wilderness of Sinai ( Exodus 17:1 , Exodus 17:8; Exodus 19:2; Numbers 33:14 ). The host expected to find water here; to their distress the streams were dry, and water was miraculously provided. Palmer (Desert of the Exodus , 158 ff) states cogent reasons for identifying Rephidim with Wâdy Feirān . It is the most fertile part of the peninsula, well watered, with a palm grove stretching for miles along the valley. Palmer speaks of passing through the palm grove as a "most delightful" walk; "the tall, graceful trees afforded a delicious shade, fresh water ran at our feet, and, above all, bulbuls flitted from branch to branch uttering their sweet notes." His camp was pitched at "the mouth of Wâdy ‛Aleyát , a large open space completely surrounded by steep, shelving mountains of gneiss, the fantastic cleavage of which added greatly to the beauty of the scene. Palms and tamarisks were dotted all around, and on every knoll and mountain slope were ruined houses, churches, and walls, the relics of the ancient monastic city of Paran. Behind our tents rose the majestic mass of Serbal, and beneath the rocky wall opposite ran a purling brook, only a few inches in depth, but still sufficiently cool, clear, and refreshing."
Such a place as this the Amalekites would naturally wish to preserve for themselves against an invading people. For these desert dwellers, indeed, the possession of this watered vale may well have been a matter of life and death.
If this identification is correct, then Jebel Ṭaḥūneh , "Mount of the mill," a height that rises on the North of the valley, may have been the hill from which Moses, with Aaron and Hur, viewed the battle.
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Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. Entry for 'Rephidim'. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/isb/r/rephidim.html. 1915.