I remember as a child thinking that if only God would just do a few of those amazing miracles like He did way back when in the Bible, it would sure make it easier to believe. As I get older, I no longer think that miracles would be convincing at all. Miracles would be explained away and would not have the intended impact. The world has unfortunately become a very skeptical and even cynical place.
When the Israelites traveled in the desert for forty years, they experienced a national relationship with God that was truly miraculous. They witnessed miracles literally on a daily basis. Just read the Bible and you will see that they received miraculous food daily in what was called the manna. On Friday’s they received a double portion so they would not have to collect the manna on the Sabbath. They were protected by clouds of glory, a pillar of fire led them at night, and a pillar of smoke led them during the day. Water was provided by a well which traveled with them in the merit of Miriam, the sister of Moses. What a glorious existence! Forty years of miracles on the heels of the ten plagues that they had witnessed in Egypt.
Yet, these are the same people who built a Golden calf and complain tirelessly. Miracles do not seem to phase them. They expect them. Yet it has very little impact on their faith.
As the Israelites enter the land of Israel, the miracles immediately begin to diminish. The conquering of the land by Joshua begins with an initial miracle at Jericho, but after that life becomes more natural. Battles are fought in a traditional manner with a few miracles here and there but basically it was a natural existence.
There is a fascinating rabbinic teaching that has a lesson for all of us. A question was raised: What happened to the Well of Miriam that traveled with the Israelites in the desert miraculously providing water? The Sages answer that it was placed at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. What does this mean? What is the idea being expressed here?
One of the greatest challenges that the modern State of Israel faces is providing enough water for all of her needs. This is not a modern problem but it is more acute with a population of nearly 8 million. In 1964 Israel completed a project called the National Water Carrier which pumped water from the Sea of Galilee and through a series of reservoirs, canals, pumps, and pipes distributed water throughout the country. The prime minister at the time, Levi Eshkol, considered it to be one of his proudest achievements.
I have visited the pumping station next to the Sea of Galilee and it is very impressive. As a matter of fact the entire project is incredible. It would be easy to become overly proud of the human technical achievement and forget God’s part in the equation. God no longer quenches our thirst, it is man. God no longer provides for us, it is man.
This is precisely why the Sages say that the Well of Miriam was placed at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. When life was transitioning from the miracles of the desert there was the danger of forgetting God. When God is more behind the scenes we tend to think that it is all about us. When the Sages said that the Well of Miriam was placed at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee it was meant to remind us that our most basic need, water, has at its foundation, thet hand of God. What we think is natural is really God providing.
In the last year, archaeologists have discovered a structure at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. They do not know what it is but they are in agreement that it was brought from outside the sea. It is also dated to the time of the Israelite entry in to the land of Israel. Could it be the Well of Miriam? Perhaps. More importantly we must remember that God is the provider of everything even though He is sometimes hiding behind the lattice work and peeking in.