Was the water of Marah truly bitter? After traveling in the wilderness for three days without water. The Israelites finally got to a location where they found water but which was undrinkable. The water of Marah was said to be bitter for the famished and frustrated Israelites. But one would wonder why the waters were bitter?
Why would water be bitter? From scientific point of view, I have thought that this water must have got its source from an alkaline rock. Alkali rocks are rocks in which the chemical content of the alkalies (potassium oxide and sodium oxide) is great enough for alkaline minerals to form. Such minerals may be unusually sodium rich, with a relatively high ratio of alkalies to silica (SiO2). Many alkaline rocks are silica-undersaturated and contain feldspathoid minerals, mainly nepheline and leucite, many also contain alkali feldspars. Let me not bore you with geology.
In this piece, I will be more inclined to the alkalinity pH of the water. “Potential Hydrogen” or pH are used as the measurement of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. For example, pure water has a pH value of 7 and is considered neutral. Thus, as the pH value lowers, the water is considered more acidic and as it elevates above 7 it is considered more alkaline. Standards for drinking water suggest a pH value of between 6.5 and 8.5.
A soft water has the pH level drop toward the lower side of 6.5 and out of the recommended range. Such water is said to be acidic, and it is associated with higher levels of metals such as iron, manganese, copper, and lead and the health risks associated with each. On the other hand, water is considered hard when the pH level is above 8.5. Hard water does not pose a health risk, but can cause aesthetic problems such as: bitter taste to the water and beverages such as tea or coffee. In spite of its not having a health risk, every rational being would choose a pure drinkable water over a bitter one, as the former is more convenient for consumption. This was most likely the reason the children of Israel cried out on tasting the water of Marah, “Alas, it was bitter”, they cried to Moses.
The turning of Bitter water to sweet was another water related miracle. Previously, they had had water turned to wine (Exodus 7:20-27); Red Sea divided (Exodus 14:21-22); and the Red Sea drowning enemies (Exodus 14:26-29). The experience at Marah was just another one in the training of the Israelites on the need to depend absolutely on God for their supplies. For in God’s plan Marah should come before Elim. Lack of drinkable water should come before abundance of water. In Elim, there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, awaiting the sojourners (Exodus 16:1).
The wilderness is the ground where God acquires His people. God expects us to learn lessons from every of our life challenges. From the words of Matthew Henry, “He can make bitter to us that from which we promise ourselves most, and often does so in the wilderness of this world, that our wants, and disappointments in the creature, may drive us to the creator, in whose Favour alone true comfort is to be had.” Because of His love for us, He sometimes use difficulties to call for our attention. He uses hard times to call us to trust Him for all our needs.
Are you going through a Marah experience? A sharp trial that has wearied your soul, and have plunged you into despair? Perhaps, for you also, It has being a very tiring journey, and at some point you eventually got some respite, but alas, that wasn’t even sufficient to meet your needs. Oh what a life, you cried! Rather than murmur like the children of Israel did against the constituted authority, Moses. Of them the scripture records, “And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” (Exodus 15:24). You should like Moses, cry out to the LORD in absolute reliance! And I am so certain that as God showed Moses a tree which when he cast into the waters, the bitter waters were made sweet, God will show you a way out of the darkness and draught!
In every trial, we should cast our care upon the Lord, and pour our hearts before Him. We shall then find a submissive will, a peaceful conscience, and the comforts of the Holy Ghost, will render the bitterest trial tolerable, yea, pleasant. You are winning! Yes, we are winning!