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Exodus 15:2-21

Context

15:2 The Lord 1  is my strength and my song, 2 

and he has become my salvation.

This is my God, and I will praise him, 3 

my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

15:3 The Lord is a warrior, 4 

the Lord is his name. 5 

15:4 The chariots of Pharaoh 6  and his army he has thrown into the sea,

and his chosen 7  officers were drowned 8  in the Red Sea.

15:5 The depths have covered them, 9 

they went down to the bottom 10  like a stone.

15:6 Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic 11  in power,

your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.

15:7 In the abundance of your majesty 12  you have overthrown 13 

those who rise up against you. 14 

You sent forth 15  your wrath; 16 

it consumed them 17  like stubble.

15:8 By the blast of your nostrils 18  the waters were piled up,

the flowing water stood upright like a heap, 19 

and the deep waters were solidified in the heart of the sea.

15:9 The enemy said, ‘I will chase, 20  I will overtake,

I will divide the spoil;

my desire 21  will be satisfied on them.

I will draw 22  my sword, my hand will destroy them.’ 23 

15:10 But 24  you blew with your breath, and 25  the sea covered them.

They sank 26  like lead in the mighty waters.

15:11 Who is like you, 27  O Lord, among the gods? 28 

Who is like you? – majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, 29  working wonders?

15:12 You stretched out your right hand,

the earth swallowed them. 30 

15:13 By your loyal love you will lead 31  the people whom 32  you have redeemed;

you will guide 33  them by your strength to your holy dwelling place.

15:14 The nations will hear 34  and tremble;

anguish 35  will seize 36  the inhabitants of Philistia.

15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified, 37 

trembling will seize 38  the leaders of Moab,

and the inhabitants of Canaan will shake.

15:16 Fear and dread 39  will fall 40  on them;

by the greatness 41  of your arm they will be as still as stone 42 

until 43  your people pass by, O Lord,

until the people whom you have bought 44  pass by.

15:17 You will bring them in 45  and plant them in the mountain 46  of your inheritance,

in the place you made 47  for your residence, O Lord,

the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hands have established.

15:18 The Lord will reign forever and ever!

15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh came with his chariots and his footmen into the sea,

and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea on them,

but the Israelites walked on dry land in the middle of the sea.”

15:20 Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a hand-drum in her hand, and all the women went out after her with hand-drums and with dances. 48  15:21 Miriam sang in response 49  to them, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.” 50 

1 tn Heb “Yah.” Moses’ poem here uses a short form of the name Yahweh, traditionally rendered in English by “the LORD.”

2 tn The word וְזִמְרָת (vÿzimrat) is problematic. It probably had a suffix yod (י) that was accidentally dropped because of the yod (י) on the divine name following. Most scholars posit another meaning for the word. A meaning of “power” fits the line fairly well, forming a hendiadys with strength – “strength and power” becoming “strong power.” Similar lines are in Isa 12:2 and Ps 118:14. Others suggest “protection” or “glory.” However, there is nothing substantially wrong with “my song” in the line – only that it would be a nicer match if it had something to do with strength.

3 tn The word נָוָה (navah) occurs only here. It may mean “beautify, adorn” with praises (see BDB 627 s.v.). See also M. Dahood, “Exodus 15:2: ‘anwehu and Ugaritic snwt,” Bib 59 (1979): 260-61; and M. Klein, “The Targumic Tosefta to Exodus 15:2,” JJS 26 (1975): 61-67; and S. B. Parker, “Exodus 15:2 Again,” VT 21 (1971): 373-79.

4 tn Heb “man of war” (so KJV, ASV). “Warrior” is now the preferred translation since “man of war” is more commonly known today as a warship. The expression indicates that Yahweh is one who understands how to fight and defeat the enemy. The word “war” modifies “man” to reveal that Yahweh is a warrior. Other passages use similar descriptions: Isa 42:13 has “man of wars”; Ps 24:8 has “mighty man of battle.” See F. Cross, “The Divine Warrior in Israel’s Early Cult,” Biblical Motifs, 11-30.

5 tn Heb “Yahweh is his name.” As throughout, the name “Yahweh” is rendered as “the Lord” in the translation, as is typically done in English translations.

6 tn Gesenius notes that the sign of the accusative, often omitted in poetry, is not found in this entire song (GKC 363 §117.b).

7 tn The word is a substantive, “choice, selection”; it is here used in the construct state to convey an attribute before a partitive genitive – “the choice of his officers” means his “choice officers” (see GKC 417 §128.r).

8 tn The form is a Qal passive rather than a Pual, for there is not Piel form or meaning.

9 tn The verb form is יְכַסְיֻמוּ (yÿkhasyumu) is the Piel preterite. Normally a vav (ו) consecutive is used with the preterite, but in some ancient poems the form without the vav appears, as is the case frequently in this poem. That such an archaic form is used should come as no surprise, because the word also uses the yod (י) of the root (GKC 214 §75.dd), and the archaic suffix form (GKC 258 §91.l). These all indicate the antiquity of the poem.

10 tn The parasynonyms here are תְּהֹמֹת (tÿhomot, “deep, ocean depths, deep waters”) and מְצוֹלֹת (mÿtsolot, “the depths”); S. R. Driver says properly the “gurgling places” (Exodus, 134).

11 tn The form נֶאְדָּרִי (nedari) may be an archaic infinitive with the old ending i, used in place of the verb and meaning “awesome.” Gesenius says that the vowel ending may be an old case ending, especially when a preposition is inserted between the word and its genitive (GKC 253 §90.l), but he suggests a reconstruction of the form.

12 sn This expression is cognate with words in v. 1. Here that same greatness or majesty is extolled as in abundance.

13 tn Here, and throughout the song, these verbs are the prefixed conjugation that may look like the imperfect but are actually historic preterites. This verb is to “overthrow” or “throw down” – like a wall, leaving it in shattered pieces.

14 tn The form קָמֶיךָ (qamekha) is the active participle with a pronominal suffix. The participle is accusative, the object of the verb, but the suffix is the genitive of nearer definition (see GKC 358 §116.i).

15 sn The verb is the Piel of שָׁלַח (shalakh), the same verb used throughout for the demand on Pharaoh to release Israel. Here, in some irony, God released his wrath on them.

16 sn The word wrath is a metonymy of cause; the effect – the judgment – is what is meant.

17 tn The verb is the prefixed conjugation, the preterite, without the consecutive vav (ו).

18 sn The phrase “the blast of your nostrils” is a bold anthropomorphic expression for the wind that came in and dried up the water.

19 tn The word “heap” describes the walls of water. The waters, which are naturally fluid, stood up as though they were a heap, a mound of earth. Likewise, the flowing waters deep in the ocean solidified – as though they were turned to ice (U. Cassuto, Exodus, 175).

20 sn W. C. Kaiser observes the staccato phrases that almost imitate the heavy, breathless heaving of the Egyptians as, with what reserve of strength they have left, they vow, “I will…, I will…, I will…” (“Exodus,” EBC 2:395).

21 tn The form is נַפְשִׁי (nafshi, “my soul”). But this word refers to the whole person, the body and the soul, or better, a bundle of appetites in a body. It therefore can figuratively refer to the desires or appetites (Deut 12:15; 14:26; 23:24). Here, with the verb “to be full” means “to be satisfied”; the whole expression might indicate “I will be sated with them” or “I will gorge myself.” The greedy appetite was to destroy.

22 tn The verb רִיק (riq) means “to be empty” in the Qal, and in the Hiphil “to empty.” Here the idea is to unsheathe a sword.

23 tn The verb is יָרַשׁ (yarash), which in the Hiphil means “to dispossess” or “root out.” The meaning “destroy” is a general interpretation.

24 tn “But” has been supplied here.

25 tn Here “and” has been supplied.

26 tn The verb may have the idea of sinking with a gurgling sound, like water going into a whirlpool (R. A. Cole, Exodus [TOTC], 124; S. R. Driver, Exodus, 136). See F. M. Cross and D. N. Freedman, “The Song of Miriam,” JNES 14 (1955): 243-47.

27 tn The question is of course rhetorical; it is a way of affirming that no one is comparable to God. See C. J. Labuschagne, The Incomparability of Yahweh in the Old Testament, 22, 66-67, and 94-97.

28 sn Verses 11-17 will now focus on Yahweh as the incomparable one who was able to save Israel from their foes and afterward lead them to the promised land.

29 tn S. R. Driver suggests “praiseworthy acts” as the translation (Exodus, 137).

30 tn The verb is the prefixed conjugation, the preterite without the vav consecutive. The subject, the “earth,” must be inclusive of the sea, or it may indicate the grave or Sheol; the sea drowned them. Some scholars wish to see this as a reference to Dathan and Abiram, and therefore evidence of a later addition or compilation. It fits this passage well, however.

31 tn The verbs in the next two verses are perfect tenses, but can be interpreted as a prophetic perfect, looking to the future.

32 tn The particle זוּ (zu) is a relative pronoun, subordinating the next verb to the preceding.

33 tn This verb seems to mean “to guide to a watering-place” (See Ps 23:2).

34 tn This verb is a prophetic perfect, assuming that the text means what it said and this song was sung at the Sea. So all these countries were yet to hear of the victory.

35 tn The word properly refers to “pangs” of childbirth. When the nations hear, they will be terrified.

36 tn The verb is again a prophetic perfect.

37 tn This is a prophetic perfect.

38 tn This verb is imperfect tense.

39 tn The two words can form a nominal hendiadys, “a dreadful fear,” though most English versions retain the two separate terms.

40 tn The form is an imperfect.

41 tn The adjective is in construct form and governs the noun “arm” (“arm” being the anthropomorphic expression for what God did). See GKC 428 §132.c.

42 sn For a study of the words for fear, see N. Waldman, “A Comparative Note on Exodus 15:14-16,” JQR 66 (1976): 189-92.

43 tn Clauses beginning with עַד (’ad) express a limit that is not absolute, but only relative, beyond which the action continues (GKC 446-47 §138.g).

44 tn The verb קָנָה (qanah) here is the verb “acquire, purchase,” and probably not the homonym “to create, make” (see Gen 4:1; Deut 32:6; and Prov 8:22).

45 tn The verb is imperfect.

46 sn The “mountain” and the “place” would be wherever Yahweh met with his people. It here refers to Canaan, the land promised to the patriarchs.

47 tn The verb is perfect tense, referring to Yahweh’s previous choice of the holy place.

48 sn See J. N. Easton, “Dancing in the Old Testament,” ExpTim 86 (1975): 136-40.

49 tn The verb עָנָה (’ana) normally means “to answer,” but it can be used more technically to describe antiphonal singing in Hebrew and in Ugaritic.

50 sn This song of the sea is, then, a great song of praise for Yahweh’s deliverance of Israel at the Sea, and his preparation to lead them to the promised land, much to the (anticipated) dread of the nations. The principle here, and elsewhere in Scripture, is that the people of God naturally respond to God in praise for his great acts of deliverance. Few will match the powerful acts that were exhibited in Egypt, but these nonetheless set the tone. The song is certainly typological of the song of the saints in heaven who praise God for delivering them from the bondage of this world by judging the world. The focus of the praise, though, still is on the person (attributes) and works of God.



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