The Nile and water from the rock

She caused their works to prosper by the hand of the holy prophet. They wandered through a desert in which no one lived. They set up their tents in the midst of desolate surroundings. They opposed those who fought against them and defended themselves from their enemies. They thirsted and cried out to you. You gave them water from a sharp rock, and their thirst was quenched by liquid from that hard stone. When your people were in need, they were blessed with the very things that you used to punish their enemies. So instead of a source of fresh water, your enemies found their own flowing river to be polluted with blood and gore. It was a judgment on those who killed their own children. But you gave your people water in greater abundance than they could possibly imagine. You showed your people through their own experience of thirst how you punished their opponents.

When your people were put to the test, you disciplined them, but you also showed mercy. But they learned from this how harshly the ungodly were tormented when you judged them. 10 You disciplined your people in the same way that parents warn their children, but you examined and passed sentence on the ungodly like a strict ruler. 11 Whether they were distant or close by, you still afflicted them. 12 They groaned on account of their punishment and on account of the memory of the things that they had done. 13 When they heard that the Hebrews were benefiting from their punishment, they perceived that it was the Lord’s doing. 14 They thirsted, but their thirst was so different from the thirst of those who do what is right! In the end, they stood in awe of the man they had mockingly rejected long ago because he had been set adrift and exposed.

Small animals and quail

15 Because their foolish and wicked thoughts had led them astray to worship unthinking reptiles and worthless animals, you sent hordes of mindless creatures upon them as a punishment. 16 In this way they learned that people are punished by the very same things by which they sin. 17 Your all-powerful hand, which had brought the world into being out of formless matter, would have been more than able to send a host of bears and fierce lions against them. 18 Or they could have been met by newly created beasts that no one had ever seen before, full of rage, breathing fire, belching smoke, and shooting deadly sparks from their eyes. 19 The damage that these beasts would have been able to do would have been more than enough to wipe out your enemies. Just the sight of them would have been enough to make them die from fear! 20 Or without any of these, your enemies could have been cut down by a single breath—pursued by your justice and crushed by a powerful breath.

Digressions on divine justice

But you have set all things in right order by proportion: by measure, by number, and by weight. 21 You are indeed able at any time to carry out mighty deeds. Who could possibly withstand the strength of your arm? 22 Before you, the whole world is nothing but dust on the scale or but a drop of dew that falls to earth in the night. 23 Yet precisely because you can do all things, you show mercy to everyone. You overlook their sins, giving them a chance to change their hearts and minds. 24 You love everything that exists. You despise nothing that you have made. If you hated it, you wouldn’t have created it. 25 Nothing could survive unless you had willed it. Nothing could remain unless you continued to call it into being. 26 You spare all things because all things are yours, ruler and lover of life.