REPHIDIM (Heb. רְפִידִם ,רְפִידִים), a stopping place of the Israelites on their way from Egypt, situated between the Wilderness of Sin and the Wilderness of Sinai (Ex. 17:1; 19:2; Num. 33:14–15). In Rephidim the lack of water caused the people to find fault with Moses and to challenge his position of leadership. Moses struck "a rock at Horeb" and water gushed forth. The place came to be known as Massah and Meribah (Ex. 17:1–7). In a parallel account (Num. 20) the place where this occurred is said to be *Kadesh. The defeat of the *Amalekites which later took place at Rephidim was effected by virtue of the force mustered by Joshua and Moses who kept his hands raised during the whole course of the battle. God's oath to wipe out Amalek was commemorated by an altar, named "YHWH is my ensign" (Heb. ה׳ נִסִּי; Ex. 17:8–16), erected at the spot.
No definite evidence has been forwarded for the exact site of Rephidim, which depends on the location of Mt. *Sinai. Most scholars who identify Mt. Sinai with Jebel Musa locate Rephidim in Wadi Fīrān, or, according to Abel, at Wadi Rafayd or Jebel Rafayd, about 22 mi. (36 km.) southeast of el-Arish.
Abel, Géog, 2 (1938), 213; C.H. Cornill, in: ZAW, 11 (1891), 20ff.; H. Gressmann, Mose und seine Zeit (1913), 150ff.; C.J. Jarvis, Yesterday and To-Day in Sinai (1933), 174–5: S. Lehming, in: ZAW, 73 (1961), 71–77; C.L. Woolley and T.E. Lawrence, in: Annual of the Palestine Exploration Fund, 3 (1914–15), 62ff.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.