Sometimes the translators get the idea across by going back to the
underlying thought of a rock, of stability, strength and immovability:
"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart,
be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength ['tsur,' 'rock'], and my redeemer."
"Let the sayings of my mouth, And the meditation of
my heart, Be for a pleasing thing before Thee, O Jehovah, my rock,
and my redeemer!" (YLT, Psalm 19:14).
"Be thou my strong
['tsur,' 'rock'] habitation, whereunto I may continually resort:
thou hast given commandment to save me; for thou art my rock and my
fortress." (Psalm 71:3).
"Be to me for a rock — a habitation, To
go in continually, Thou hast given command to save me, For my rock
and my bulwark art Thou." (YLT, Psalm 71:3).
"My flesh and
my heart faileth: but God is the strength ['tsur,' 'rock'] of my
heart, and my portion for ever." (Psalm 73:26).
been my flesh and my heart, The rock of my heart and my portion is
God to the age." (YLT, Psalm 73:26).
"Trust ye in the
LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength
['tsur,' 'rock']: For he bringeth down them that dwell on high; the
lofty city, he layeth it low; he layeth it low, even to the ground;
he bringeth it even to the dust." (Isaiah 26:4-5).
"Trust ye in Jehovah for
ever, For in Jah Jehovah is a rock of ages, For He bowed down the
dwellers on high, A city set on high He maketh low, He maketh it
low unto the earth, He causeth it to come unto the dust. . ." (YLT Isaiah 26:4).
"Ye shall have a song, as in the night when a holy solemnity is
kept; and gladness of heart, as when one goeth with a pipe to come
into the mountain of the LORD, to the mighty One ['tsur,'
'rock'] of Israel." (Isaiah 30:29).
"Singing is to you as in a night sanctified for a festival, And joy
of heart as he who is going with a pipe, To go in to the mountain
of Jehovah, Unto the rock of Israel." (YLT Isaiah 30:29).
"Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One?
we shall not die. O LORD, thou hast ordained them for judgment;
and, O mighty God ['tsur,' 'rock'], thou hast established them for
correction." (Habakkuk 1:12).
"Art not Thou of old, O Jehovah,
my God, my Holy One? We do not die, O Jehovah, For judgment Thou
hast appointed it, And, O Rock, for reproof Thou hast founded it."
(YLT, Habakkuk 1:12).
Another word meaning 'cliff' or high and lofty rock is also
sometimes used of God, "The LORD is my rock , and my fortress, and my
deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and
the horn of my salvation, and my high tower." (Psalm 18:22), and "I
will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I
mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?" (Psalm 42:9).
Smite the Rock
Moses was commanded to smite the rock at Horeb, though later at Kadesh
he was told to speak to the rock:
"And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
All of these things were crafted by God as word pictures to instruct
and foretell as well as to quench the people's thirst. Moses' upheld
hands cast a long shadow in the setting sun. The smitten rock is a type of Christ: