This painting illustrates a central event from the Old Testament (Exodus 17:1-7; Numbers 20:2-11): the rescue of the Israelites in the desert when they were close to dying of thirst. They were saved by Moses, who made water gush out of a rock after striking it with his rod. The event is portrayed with great drama, even though the emphasis is more on the reactions of the people than on the miracle-worker and the miracle itself. Accordingly, and in a manner typical for the period in which this work was painted, the foreground is dominated by genre motifs, still-life elements and representations of animals, whereas the actual biblical subject which occasioned this wealth of pictures literally recedes into the background. Dramatic narrative, brilliant colours, meticulous painterly reproduction of the smallest details and dramatic lighting make this painting, signed and dated with the year 1611, a masterpiece and one of the main works of the Utrecht artist Abraham Bloemaert.