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Dear catholic.com visitors: This website from Catholic Answers, with all its many resources, is the world's largest source of explanations for Catholic beliefs and practices. A fully independent, lay-run, 501(c)(3) ministry that receives no funding from the institutional Church, we rely entirely on the generosity of everyday people like you to keep this website going with trustworthy , fresh, and relevant content. If everyone visiting this month gave just $1, catholic.com would be fully funded for an entire year. Do you find catholic.com helpful? Please make a gift today. Thank you. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

In Numbers 20, why did Moses and Aaron sin when they struck the rock?

Question:

When Moses and Aaron got water from the rock in Numbers 20, what exactly did they do wrong that caused them to be punished?

Answer:

If you re-read Numbers 20:6–11, you’ll see that Moses and Aaron did not do as the Lord commanded them to do. He asked them to speak to the rock and told them that it would bring forth water. Instead, Moses and Aaron decided to strike the rock for water, which was a method of obtaining water that had previously been successful for them (Ex. 17:5–7). In other words, they decided to ignore the Lord’s request and go with what had worked before, which demonstrated a lack of faith (Num. 20:12) and, arguably, superstition (CCC 2111).

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