1. A place in the vicinity of the Israelite wilderness encampment at Rephidim. It was there that Jehovah provided a miraculous supply of water when Moses struck the rock in Horeb with his rod. Moses then called the site “Massah” (meaning “Testing; Trial”) and “Meribah” (meaning “Quarreling”). These names were commemorative of Israel’s quarreling with Moses and its testing of God on account of the lack of water.
2. The name “Meribah” was later also given to a location near Kadesh, the reason for the name likewise being Israel’s quarreling with Moses and Jehovah about the lack of water. (Nu 20:1-13) Unlike the place near Rephidim, where the Israelites encamped less than two months after coming out of Egypt (Ex 16:1; 17:1; 19:1), this Meribah did not bear the name Massah. The Scriptures sometimes distinguish it from the other location by referring to “the waters of Meribah” (Ps 106:32) or “the waters of Meribah at Kadesh.” (Nu 27:14; De 32:51) However, at Psalm 81:7 the reference to Jehovah’s examining Israel by “the waters of Meribah” may allude to the incident at Meribah near Rephidim.
Moses and Aaron failed to sanctify Jehovah in connection with the miraculous provision of water at Meribah in the Kadesh area. Therefore they lost the privilege of entering the Promised Land. This event seems to have occurred in the 40th year of Israel’s wilderness wanderings.