Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

From what I understand the Well of Miriam in the dessert was actually a rock which miraculously brought forth water. As such why do we refer to it as the well of Miriam and not the Rock of Miriam?

share|improve this question
@DoubleAA I'm not particularly interested in the English definition, unless it is identical to the torah's definition of a b'er. But in any case it is a misnomer. – not-allowed to change my name May 11 '14 at 20:49
@not-allowedtochangemyname, if you're "not particularly interested in the English definition, unless it is identical to the torah's definition of a b'er", then why do you ask in your question about a "well" and not about a "b'er"? – msh210 May 11 '14 at 21:24
@msh210 I was translating the hebrew term for the benefit of j.se users who are not familiar with it. It's the same reason I translated rock instead of using the term selah. – not-allowed to change my name May 11 '14 at 22:33
@DoubleAA are you suggesting it was not miraculous like the torah claims? after all it was portable and gave water to 2 million people for 40 years. – ray May 12 '14 at 8:56

In Bamidbar 21 it's referred to as a well, multiple times:

טז וּמִשָּׁם, בְּאֵרָה: הִוא הַבְּאֵר, אֲשֶׁר אָמַר יְהוָה לְמֹשֶׁה, אֱסֹף אֶת-הָעָם, וְאֶתְּנָה לָהֶם מָיִם. יז אָז יָשִׁיר יִשְׂרָאֵל, אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת: עֲלִי בְאֵר, עֱנוּ-לָהּ. יח בְּאֵר חֲפָרוּהָ שָׂרִים, כָּרוּהָ נְדִיבֵי הָעָם, בִּמְחֹקֵק, בְּמִשְׁעֲנֹתָם; וּמִמִּדְבָּר, מַתָּנָה

My guess is that as a result it's called the Well of Miriam, though the Ibn Ezra on that Pasuk says that it does not refer to Be'er Miriam.

וזאת הבאר גם היא היתה פלא ואיננה הבאר הנקרא באר מרים לפי דעתי

share|improve this answer

My guess is that there was nothing special about the rock, which existed way before Miriam and lasted long after her. The only thing special about it was that it produced water like a well, which lasted only as long as Miriam was alive.

Hence, it wasn't the rock of Miriam, since she had nothing to do with it being a rock. It is the well of Miriam, since she caused it to be a well.

share|improve this answer
I'm sure this is the correct answer. – Y ez May 11 '14 at 21:28
i suspect there's some special story behind that "rock" or whatever it was see: chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380282/jewish/… which shows it did alot more than just spew water. – ray May 12 '14 at 8:55

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.