The wilderness of Sin in Rephidim
1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink.
2 Therefore the people quarrelled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” …
… 5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
6 Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
7 He named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us, or not?”
Exodus 17:1-2, 5-7  NASBu

The desert of Zin in Kadesh
1 Then the sons of Israel, the whole congregation, came to the wilderness of Zin in the first month; and the people stayed at Kadesh. Now Miriam died there and was buried there.
2 There was no water for the congregation, and they assembled themselves against Moses and Aaron…
… 8 “Take the rod; and you and your brother Aaron assemble the congregation and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water. You shall thus bring forth water for them out of the rock and let the congregation and their beasts drink.”
9 So Moses took the rod from before the LORD, just as He had commanded him;
10 and Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly before the rock. And he said to them, “Listen now, you rebels; shall we bring forth water for you out of this rock?”
11 Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation and their beasts drank.
12 But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”
13 Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the LORD, and He proved Himself holy among them.
Numbers 20:1-2, 8-13  NASBu

SAB Contradiction 105 (by book)

Were did it occur?

There are two stories in the Moses history about making water in the desert. Sceptics see it as a problem that it happened in the desert of Sin according to the first story, but that it happened in the desert of Zin according to the second story. What can we say?

Critics of old

We can say a lot. In the first place we would like to make a remark about the formulating of the problem. Where did it happen, in Sin or in Zin? The sceptics of the 19th century would say shortly: It is not possible to bring forth water from a rock in the desert, so this is impossible. Thus one was done with it quickly. Only one question remained: Jews and Christians were not impressed and still believed (until this day). The remaining question for the sceptics: How is it possible that such nice and intelligent people believe such things?

Short answer

Now let’s return to the question of today. Where did it happen? The answer can be short: The first time it happened in the desert of  Sin and the second time it happened in the desert of Zin. Is it that simple? Yes, it is.
The first place got the name – in the desert of Sin: “Massah and Meribah”, meaning: “Temptation and Quarrel”. The second name – in the desert of Zin – was only “Meribah” (Quarrel).

Streams of living water

More interesting of the two stories is that the first time Moses was instructed to strike the rock and the second time he was ordered to only speak to the rock? Moreover when he struck the rock (the second time) it was evil in God’s eyes. Why was that?

The first event happened before the giving of the Ten Commandments. Moses had got a point of contact between him and God; his staff to do great wonders in Egypt. After the building of the tabernacle this staff was in the tabernacle (Numbers 20:9), however it was not the point of contact anymore between God and Moses. The tabernacle had become so, within it the Ten Commandments. The staff remained only as a symbol that Moses acted in God’s authority.

Making water the second time with his staff striking on the rock it looked as if Moses behaved like a magician who only took a magic stick to do a trick. The people would think that they could seek other points of contact between God and man instead of the tabernacle containing the once spoken Word of God. We still possess that once spoken Word of God. It’s not magic, just holy. Let’s speak according to this word to bring streams of living water where spiritual death seems to reign.

No Bible Contradiction

Note. Not infrequently rocks in the desert of Sinai contain water reservoirs in soft limestone layers.