The Water and Stick Method [draft]
22 Moses led the Israelites from the Red Sea to the Desert of Shur. They went without water for three days, until they finally came to a spring in Marah. 23 One of the women dipped her flask into the spring and took a swig. ‘Eww, that water is bitter!’ she cried, spitting it out.
Moses had a drink and said, ‘It’s only a little bitter. Besides, it’s the first water we’ve found in three days.’
24 Somebody else tried the water. ‘Ergh!’ they moaned. ‘That tastes horrible! We can’t possibly drink that!’
‘Jesus Christ!’ scolded Moses. ‘We’re in the fucking desert! You’re not in a position to be picky!’
But the people refused to drink the water. 25 So, Moses prayed to the Lord, ‘Dear God, make them stop moaning.’
The Lord pointed to a nearby tree and commanded, ‘Fetch that tree.’
‘A tree? Seriously? How the hell am I supposed to uproot a tree?’
‘Oh, I forgot how small and puny you humans are. Cut off a branch.’
So, Moses chopped off one of the branches of the tree, and he brought it back to the Lord. ‘Now what?’ he asked.
‘If anyone refuses to drink the water, beat them with that stick.’
And Moses forced the Israelites to drink the water despite its bitter taste, and their thirst was quenched.
26 Then the Lord issued a decree, which sums up the morale of this story: ‘If you do what the Lord your God tells you, you’ll be rewarded by not being stricken with diseases and not being killed.’
27 The Israelites moved on from there to Elim, where there were twelve springs of fresh water, seventy palm trees of ripe dates, and one very worried looking goat.
And the camped there in Elim for several days. By the way, they ate the goat.