The manna and the water which flowed from the rock are called spiritual because they were formed not according to the law of nature but by the power of God working independently of the natural elements. They were created for a time as figures of what we now eat and drink in remembrance of Christ the Lord. Commentary on Paul’s Epistles.
In the nineteenth generation the descendants of him who had been cursed after the flood, going beyond their proper bounds which they had obtained by lot in the western regions, drove into the eastern lands those who had obtained the middle portion of the world, and pursued them as far as Persia, while themselves violently took possession of the country from which they expelled them. In the twentieth generation a son for the first time died before his father.
But when Moses had gone up to the mount, and was staying there forty days, the people, although they had seen Egypt struck with the ten plagues, and the sea parted and passed over by them on foot, manna also given to them from heaven for bread, and drink supplied to them out of the rock that followed
For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them. The rock which gave water to the Hebrews was a type of Christ, who is the true Rock from which flowed the blood to quench the heat of our lust. But what is meant by saying that this rock followed the Hebrews?
1. The Hebrews reply that their tradition, and the Chaldean rendering of Num. xxi16 , is that this rock miraculously followed the Jews everywhere in the wilderness till they came to Canaan, and supplied them with water. Hence Ephrem renders this, "They drank of the spiritual rock which same with them;" and Tertullian (de Baptismo, c. ix.) calls this rock their "companion." He says: "This is the water which flowed from the rock which accompanied the people." But farther on he interprets this rock of Christ, who in His Godhead accompanied and led the Hebrews through the wilderness. He says again (contra Marcion, lib. ii. c5): "He will understand that the rock which accompanied them to supply them with drink was Christ." S. A...
I considered the Word of the Creator and likened it to the rock that marched with the people in Israel in the wilderness; it was not from the reservoir of water contained within it that it poured forth for them glorious streams. There was no water in the rock, yet oceans sprang forth from it. Just so did the Word fashion created things out of nothing.
And again, speaking also of the children of Israel as baptized in the cloud and in the sea, he says: "And they all drank of the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ."
Why does Paul say these things? He was pointing out that just as the Israelites got no benefit from the great gift which they enjoyed, so the Corinthian Christians would get nothing out of baptism or holy communion unless they went on and manifested a life worthy of that grace.
"For Isaiah did not send you to a bath, there to wash away murder and other sins, which not even all the water of the sea were sufficient to purge; but, as might have been expected, this was that saving bath of the olden time which followed
(that is, with Christ's precepts, for Christ is in many ways and figures predicted as a rock.
And also alleges that the rock which followed (the Israelites) and supplied them with drink was Christ;.
For behold Marcion, in his blindness, stumbled at the rock whereof our fathers drank in the wilderness. For since "that rock was Christ".
As his guides; "when he pours down for an idol the contributions of his gold: for the so necessary delays of Moses, while he met with God, he had borne with impatience. After the edible rain of the manna, after the watery following