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Exodus 14:1--15:27

Context
The Victory at the Red Sea

14:1 1 The Lord spoke to Moses: 14:2 “Tell the Israelites that they must turn and camp 2  before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you are to camp by the sea before Baal Zephon opposite it. 3  14:3 Pharaoh will think 4  regarding the Israelites, ‘They are wandering around confused 5  in the land – the desert has closed in on them.’ 6  14:4 I will harden 7  Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them. I will gain honor 8  because of Pharaoh and because of all his army, and the Egyptians will know 9  that I am the Lord.” So this is what they did. 10 

14:5 When it was reported 11  to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, 12  the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people, and the king and his servants said, 13  “What in the world have we done? 14  For we have released the people of Israel 15  from serving us!” 14:6 Then he prepared 16  his chariots and took his army 17  with him. 14:7 He took six hundred select 18  chariots, and all the rest of the chariots of Egypt, 19  and officers 20  on all of them.

14:8 But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he chased after the Israelites. Now the Israelites were going out defiantly. 21  14:9 The Egyptians chased after them, and all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh and his horsemen and his army overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, before Baal-Zephon. 14:10 When 22  Pharaoh got closer, 23  the Israelites looked up, 24  and there were the Egyptians marching after them, 25  and they were terrified. 26  The Israelites cried out to the Lord, 27  14:11 and they said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the desert? 28  What in the world 29  have you done to us by bringing 30  us out of Egypt? 14:12 Isn’t this what we told you 31  in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians, 32  because it is better for us to serve 33  the Egyptians than to die in the desert!’” 34 

14:13 Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! 35  Stand firm 36  and see 37  the salvation 38  of the Lord that he will provide 39  for you today; for the Egyptians that you see today you will never, ever see again. 40  14:14 The Lord 41  will fight for you, and you can be still.” 42 

14:15 The Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 43  14:16 And as for you, 44  lift up your staff and extend your hand toward the sea and divide it, so that 45  the Israelites may go through the middle of the sea on dry ground. 14:17 And as for me, I am going to harden 46  the hearts of the Egyptians so that 47  they will come after them, that I may be honored 48  because 49  of Pharaoh and his army and his chariots and his horsemen. 14:18 And the Egyptians will know 50  that I am the Lord when I have gained my honor 51  because of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

14:19 The angel of God, who was going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them, and the pillar 52  of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 14:20 It came between the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp; it was a dark cloud 53  and it lit up the night so that one camp did not come near the other 54  the whole night. 55  14:21 Moses stretched out his hand toward the sea, and the Lord drove the sea apart 56  by a strong east wind all that night, and he made the sea into dry land, and the water was divided. 14:22 So the Israelites went through the middle of the sea on dry ground, the water forming a wall 57  for them on their right and on their left.

14:23 The Egyptians chased them and followed them into the middle of the sea – all the horses of Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen. 14:24 In the morning watch 58  the Lord looked down 59  on the Egyptian army 60  through the pillar of fire and cloud, and he threw the Egyptian army 61  into a panic. 62  14:25 He jammed 63  the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving, 64  and the Egyptians said, “Let’s flee 65  from Israel, for the Lord fights 66  for them against Egypt!”

14:26 The Lord said to Moses, “Extend your hand toward the sea, so that the waters may flow 67  back on the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen!” 14:27 So Moses extended his hand toward the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state 68  when the sun began to rise. 69  Now the Egyptians were fleeing 70  before it, but the Lord overthrew 71  the Egyptians in the middle of the sea. 14:28 The water returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen and all the army of Pharaoh that was coming after the Israelites into the sea 72  – not so much as one of them survived! 73  14:29 But the Israelites walked on dry ground in the middle of the sea, the water forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. 14:30 So the Lord saved 74  Israel on that day from the power 75  of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead 76  on the shore of the sea. 14:31 When Israel saw 77  the great power 78  that the Lord had exercised 79  over the Egyptians, they 80  feared the Lord, and they believed in 81  the Lord and in his servant Moses. 82 

The Song of Triumph

15:1 83 Then Moses and the Israelites sang 84  this song to the Lord. They said, 85 

“I will sing 86  to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, 87 

the horse and its rider 88  he has thrown into the sea.

15:2 The Lord 89  is my strength and my song, 90 

and he has become my salvation.

This is my God, and I will praise him, 91 

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

15:3 The Lord is a warrior, 92 

the Lord is his name. 93 

15:4 The chariots of Pharaoh 94  and his army he has thrown into the sea,

and his chosen 95  officers were drowned 96  in the Red Sea.

15:5 The depths have covered them, 97 

they went down to the bottom 98  like a stone.

15:6 Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic 99  in power,

your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.

15:7 In the abundance of your majesty 100  you have overthrown 101 

those who rise up against you. 102 

You sent forth 103  your wrath; 104 

it consumed them 105  like stubble.

15:8 By the blast of your nostrils 106  the waters were piled up,

the flowing water stood upright like a heap, 107 

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

15:9 The enemy said, ‘I will chase, 108  I will overtake,

I will divide the spoil;

my desire 109  will be satisfied on them.

I will draw 110  my sword, my hand will destroy them.’ 111 

15:10 But 112  you blew with your breath, and 113  the sea covered them.

They sank 114  like lead in the mighty waters.

15:11 Who is like you, 115  O Lord, among the gods? 116 

Who is like you? – majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, 117  working wonders?

15:12 You stretched out your right hand,

the earth swallowed them. 118 

15:13 By your loyal love you will lead 119  the people whom 120  you have redeemed;

you will guide 121  them by your strength to your holy dwelling place.

15:14 The nations will hear 122  and tremble;

anguish 123  will seize 124  the inhabitants of Philistia.

15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified, 125 

trembling will seize 126  the leaders of Moab,

and the inhabitants of Canaan will shake.

15:16 Fear and dread 127  will fall 128  on them;

by the greatness 129  of your arm they will be as still as stone 130 

until 131  your people pass by, O Lord,

until the people whom you have bought 132  pass by.

15:17 You will bring them in 133  and plant them in the mountain 134  of your inheritance,

in the place you made 135  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. 136  15:21 Miriam sang in response 137  to them, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and its rider he has thrown into the sea.” 138 

The Bitter Water

15:22 139 Then Moses led Israel to journey 140  away from the Red Sea. They went out to the Desert of Shur, walked for three days 141  into the desert, and found no water. 15:23 Then they came to Marah, 142  but they were not able to drink 143  the waters of Marah, because 144  they were bitter. 145  (That is 146  why its name was 147  Marah.)

15:24 So the people murmured 148  against Moses, saying, “What can 149  we drink?” 15:25 He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him 150  a tree. 151  When Moses 152  threw it into the water, the water became safe to drink. There the Lord 153  made for them 154  a binding ordinance, 155  and there he tested 156  them. 15:26 He said, “If you will diligently obey 157  the Lord your God, and do what is right 158  in his sight, and pay attention 159  to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, then all 160  the diseases 161  that I brought on the Egyptians I will not bring on you, for I, the Lord, am your healer.” 162 

15:27 Then they came to Elim, 163  where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there by the water.

1 sn The account recorded in this chapter is one of the best known events in all of Scripture. In the argument of the book it marks the division between the bondage in Egypt and the establishment of the people as a nation. Here is the deliverance from Egypt. The chapter divides simply in two, vv. 1-14 giving the instructions, and vv. 15-31 reporting the victory. See among others, G. Coats, “History and Theology in the Sea Tradition,” ST 29 (1975): 53-62); A. J. Ehlen, “Deliverance at the Sea: Diversity and Unity in a Biblical Theme,” CTM 44 (1973): 168-91; J. B. Scott, “God’s Saving Acts,” The Presbyterian Journal 38 (1979): 12-14; W. Wifall, “The Sea of Reeds as Sheol,” ZAW 92 (1980): 325-32.

2 tn The two imperfects follow the imperative and therefore express purpose. The point in the verses is that Yahweh was giving the orders for the direction of the march and the encampment by the sea.

3 sn The places have been tentatively identified. W. C. Kaiser summarizes the suggestions that Pi-Hahiroth as an Egyptian word may mean “temple of the [Syrian god] Hrt” or “The Hir waters of the canal” or “The Dwelling of Hator” (“Exodus,” EBC 2:387; see the literature on these names, including C. DeWit, The Date and Route of the Exodus, 17).

4 tn Heb “and Pharaoh will say.”

5 sn The word translated “wandering around confused” indicates that Pharaoh thought the Israelites would be so perplexed and confused that they would not know which way to turn in order to escape – and they would never dream of crossing the sea (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 115).

6 tn The expression has also been translated “the desert has shut [the way] for them,” and more freely “[the Israelites are] hemmed in by the desert.”

7 tn In this place the verb חָזַק (hazaq) is used; it indicates that God would make Pharaoh’s will strong or firm.

8 tn The form is וְאִכָּבְדָה (vÿikkavÿda), the Niphal cohortative; coming after the perfect tenses with vav (ו) consecutives expressing the future, this cohortative indicates the purpose of the hardening and chasing. Yahweh intended to gain glory by this final and great victory over the strength of Pharaoh. There is irony in this expression since a different form of the word was used frequently to describe Pharaoh’s hard heart. So judgment will not only destroy the wicked – it will reveal the glory and majesty of the sovereignty of God.

9 tn This is the perfect tense with the vav (ו) consecutive. But it announces the fulfillment of an long standing purpose – that they might know.

10 tn Heb “and they did so.”

11 tn Heb “and it was told.” The present translation uses “reported,” since this involves information given to a superior.

12 tn The verb must be given a past perfect translation because the fleeing occurred before the telling.

13 tn Heb “and they said.” The referent (the king and his servants) is supplied for clarity.

14 tn The question literally is “What is this we have done?” The demonstrative pronoun is used as an enclitic particle for emphasis (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).

15 tn Heb “released Israel.” By metonymy the name of the nation is used collectively for the people who constitute it (the Israelites).

16 tn Heb “bound.”

17 tn Heb “his people.”

18 tn The passive participle of the verb “to choose” means that these were “choice” or superb chariots.

19 tn Heb “every chariot of Egypt.” After the mention of the best chariots, the meaning of this description is “all the other chariots.”

20 tn The word שָׁלִשִׁם (shalishim) means “officers” or some special kind of military personnel. At one time it was taken to mean a “three man chariot,” but the pictures of Egyptian chariots only show two in a chariot. It may mean officers near the king, “men of the third rank” (B. Jacob, Exodus, 394). So the chariots and the crew represented the elite. See the old view by A. E. Cowley that linked it to a Hittite word (“A Hittite Word in Hebrew,” JTS 21 [1920]: 326), and the more recent work by P. C. Craigie connecting it to Egyptian “commander” (“An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the Sea: Exodus XV.4,” VT 20 [1970]: 85).

21 tn Heb “with a high hand”; the expression means “defiantly,” “boldly,” or “with confidence.” The phrase is usually used for arrogant sin and pride, the defiant fist, as it were. The image of the high hand can also mean the hand raised to deliver a blow (Job 38:15). So the narrative here builds tension between these two resolute forces.

22 tn The disjunctive vav introduces a circumstantial clause here.

23 tn Heb “drew near.”

24 tn Heb “lifted up their eyes,” an expression that indicates an intentional and careful looking – they looked up and fixed their sights on the distance.

25 tn The construction uses הִנֵּה (hinneh) with the participle, traditionally rendered “and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them.” The deictic particle calls attention in a dramatic way to what was being seen. It captures the surprise and the sudden realization of the people.

26 tn The verb “feared” is intensified by the adverb מְאֹד (mÿod): “they feared greatly” or “were terrified.” In one look their defiant boldness seems to have evaporated.

27 sn Their cry to the Lord was proper and necessary. But their words to Moses were a rebuke and disloyal, showing a lack of faith and understanding. Their arrogance failed them in the crisis because it was built on the arm of flesh. Moses would have to get used to this murmuring, but here he takes it in stride and gives them the proper instructions. They had cried to the Lord, and now the Lord would deliver.

28 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 396-97) notes how the speech is overly dramatic and came from a people given to using such exaggerations (Num 16:14), even using a double negative. The challenge to Moses brings a double irony. To die in the desert would be without proper burial, but in Egypt there were graves – it was a land of tombs and graves! Gesenius notes that two negatives in the sentence do not nullify each other but make the sentence all the more emphatic: “Is it because there were no graves…?” (GKC 483 §152.y).

29 tn The demonstrative pronoun has the enclitic use again, giving a special emphasis to the question (R. J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax, 24, §118).

30 tn The Hebrew term לְהוֹצִּיאָנוּ (lÿhotsianu) is the Hiphil infinitive construct with a suffix, “to bring us out.” It is used epexegetically here, explaining the previous question.

31 tn Heb “Is not this the word that we spoke to you.”

32 sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 164) explains this statement by the people as follows: “The question appears surprising at first, for we have not read previously that such words were spoken to Moses. Nor is the purport of the protest of the Israelite foremen (v 21 [5:21]) identical with that of the words uttered now. However, from a psychological standpoint the matter can be easily explained. In the hour of peril the children of Israel remember that remonstrance, and now it seems to them that it was of a sharper character and flowed from their foresight, and that the present situation justifies it, for death awaits them at this moment in the desert.” This declaration that “we told you so,” born of fright, need not have been strictly accurate or logical.

33 tn Heb “better for us to serve.”

34 tn Since Hebrew does not use quotation marks to indicate the boundaries of quotations, there is uncertainty about whether the Israelites’ statement in Egypt includes the end of v. 12 or consists solely of “leave us alone so that we can serve the Egyptians.” In either case, the command to Moses to leave them alone rested on the assumption, spoken or unspoken, that serving Egypt would be less risky than what Moses was proposing. Now with the Egyptian army on the horizon, the Israelites are sure that their worst predictions are about to take place.

35 tn The use of אַל (’al) with the jussive has the force of “stop fearing.” It is a more immediate negative command than לֹא (lo’) with the imperfect (as in the Decalogue).

36 tn The force of this verb in the Hitpael is “to station oneself” or “stand firm” without fleeing.

37 tn The form is an imperative with a vav (ו). It could also be rendered “stand firm and you will see” meaning the result, or “stand firm that you may see” meaning the purpose.

38 tn Or “victory” (NAB) or “deliverance” (NIV, NRSV).

39 tn Heb “do,” i.e., perform or accomplish.

40 tn The construction uses a verbal hendiadys consisting of a Hiphil imperfect (“you will not add”) and a Qal infinitive construct with a suffix (“to see them”) – “you will no longer see them.” Then the clause adds “again, for ever.”

sn U. Cassuto (Exodus, 164) notes that the antithetical parallelism between seeing salvation and seeing the Egyptians, as well as the threefold repetition of the word “see” cannot be accidental; so too the alliteration of the last three words beginning with ayin (ע).

41 tn The word order places emphasis on “the Lord” (Heb “Yahweh”).

42 tn The imperfect tense needs to be interpreted in contrast to all that Yahweh will be doing. It may be given a potential imperfect nuance (as here), or it may be obligatory to follow the command to stand firm: “you must be still.”

43 tn The text literally says, “speak to the Israelites that they may journey.” The intent of the line, using the imperative with the subordinate jussive or imperfect expressing purpose is that the speaking is the command to move.

44 tn The conjunction plus pronoun (“and you”) is emphatic – “and as for you” – before the imperative “lift up.” In contrast, v. 17 begins with “and as for me, I….”

45 tn The imperfect (or jussive) with the vav (ו) is sequential, coming after the series of imperatives instructing Moses to divide the sea; the form then gives the purpose (or result) of the activity – “that they may go.”

46 tn הִנְנִי (hinni) before the participle gives it the force of a futur instans participle, meaning “I am about to harden” or “I am going to harden” their heart.

47 tn The form again is the imperfect tense with vav (ו) to express the purpose or the result of the hardening. The repetition of the verb translated “come” is interesting: Moses is to divide the sea in order that the people may cross, but God will harden the Egyptians’ hearts in order that they may follow.

48 tn For the comments on this verb see the discussion in v. 4. God would get glory by defeating Egypt.

49 tn Or “I will get glory over.”

50 tn The construction is unusual in that it says, “And Egypt will know.” The verb is plural, and so “Egypt” must mean “the Egyptians.” The verb is the perfect tense with the vav consecutive, showing that this recognition or acknowledgment by Egypt will be the result or purpose of the defeat of them by God.

51 tn The form is בְּהִכָּבְדִי (bÿhikkavÿdi), the Niphal infinitive construct with a preposition and a suffix. For the suffix on a Niphal, see GKC 162-63 §61.c. The word forms a temporal clause in the line.

52 sn B. Jacob (Exodus, 400-401) makes a good case that there may have been only one pillar, one cloud; it would have been a dark cloud behind it, but in front of it, shining the way, a pillar of fire. He compares the manifestation on Sinai, when the mountain was on fire but veiled by a dark cloud (Deut 4:11; 5:22). See also Exod 13:21; Num 14:14; Deut 1:33; Neh 9:12, 19; Josh 24:7; Pss 78:14; 105:39.

53 tn The two nouns “cloud” and “darkness” form a nominal hendiadys: “and it was the cloud and the darkness” means “and it was the dark cloud.” Perhaps this is what the Egyptians saw, preventing them from observing Moses and the Israelites.

54 tn Heb “this to this”; for the use of the pronouns in this reciprocal sense of “the one to the other,” see GKC 448 §139.e, n. 3.

55 tc The LXX reads very differently at the end of this verse: “and there was darkness and blackness and the night passed.” B. S. Childs (Exodus [OTL], 218) summarizes three proposals: (1) One takes the MT as it stands and explains it along the lines of the Targum and Jewish exegesis, that there was one cloud that was dark to one group and light to the other. (2) Another tries to reconstruct a verb from the noun “darkness” or make some use of the Greek verb. (3) A third seeks a different meaning for the verb “lit,” “gave light” by comparative philology, but no consensus has been reached. Given that there is no easy solution apart from reconstructing the text, and given that the MT can be interpreted as it is, the present translation follows the MT.

56 tn Or “drove the sea back” (NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV). The verb is simply the Hiphil of הָלַךְ (halakh, “to walk, go”). The context requires that it be interpreted along the lines of “go back, go apart.”

57 tn The clause literally reads, “and the waters [were] for them a wall.” The word order in Hebrew is disjunctive, with the vav (ו) on the noun introducing a circumstantial clause.

sn S. R. Driver (Exodus, 119), still trying to explain things with natural explanations, suggests that a northeast wind is to be thought of (an east wind would be directly in their face he says), such as a shallow ford might cooperate with an ebb tide in keeping a passage clear. He then quotes Dillmann about the “wall” of water: “A very summary poetical and hyperbolical (xv. 8) description of the occurrence, which at most can be pictured as the drying up of a shallow ford, on both sides of which the basin of the sea was much deeper, and remained filled with water.” There is no way to “water down” the text to fit natural explanations; the report clearly shows a miraculous work of God making a path through the sea – a path that had to be as wide as half a mile in order for the many people and their animals to cross between about 2:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:389). The text does not say that they actually only started across in the morning watch, however.

58 tn The night was divided into three watches of about four hours each, making the morning watch about 2:00-6:00 a.m. The text has this as “the watch of the morning,” the genitive qualifying which of the night watches was meant.

59 tn This particular verb, שָׁקַף (shaqaf) is a bold anthropomorphism: Yahweh looked down. But its usage is always with some demonstration of mercy or wrath. S. R. Driver (Exodus, 120) suggests that the look might be with fiery flashes to startle the Egyptians, throwing them into a panic. Ps 77:17-19 pictures torrents of rain with lightning and thunder.

60 tn Heb “camp.” The same Hebrew word is used in Exod 14:20. Unlike the English word “camp,” it can be used of a body of people at rest (encamped) or on the move.

61 tn Heb “camp.”

62 tn The verb הָמַם (hamam) means “throw into confusion.” It is used in the Bible for the panic and disarray of an army before a superior force (Josh 10:10; Judg 4:15).

63 tn The word in the text is וַיָּסַר (vayyasar), which would be translated “and he turned aside” with the sense perhaps of removing the wheels. The reading in the LXX, Smr, and Syriac suggests a root אָסַר (’asar, “to bind”). The sense here might be “clogged – presumably by their sinking in the wet sand” (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 120).

64 tn The clause is וַיְנַהֲגֵהוּ בִּכְבֵדֻת (vaynahagehu bikhvedut). The verb means “to drive a chariot”; here in the Piel it means “cause to drive.” The suffix is collective, and so the verbal form can be translated “and caused them to drive.” The idea of the next word is “heaviness” or “hardship”; it recalls the previous uses of related words to describe Pharaoh’s heart. Here it indicates that the driving of the crippled chariots was with difficulty.

65 tn The cohortative has the hortatory use here, “Let’s flee.” Although the form is singular, the sense of it is plural and so hortatory can be used. The form is singular to agree with the singular subject, “Egypt,” which obviously means the Egyptian army. The word for “flee” is used when someone runs from fear of immanent danger and is a different word than the one used in 14:5.

66 tn The form is the Niphal participle; it is used as the predicate here, that is, the verbal use: “the Lord is fighting.” This corresponds to the announcement in v. 14.

67 tn The verb, “and they will return,” is here subordinated to the imperative preceding it, showing the purpose of that act.

68 tn The Hebrew term לְאֵיתָנוֹ (lÿetano) means “to its place,” or better, “to its perennial state.” The point is that the sea here had a normal level, and now when the Egyptians were in the sea on the dry ground the water would return to that level.

69 tn Heb “at the turning of the morning”; NASB, NIV, TEV, CEV “at daybreak.”

70 tn The clause begins with the disjunctive vav (ו) on the noun, signaling either a circumstantial clause or a new beginning. It could be rendered, “Although the Egyptians…Yahweh…” or “as the Egyptians….”

71 tn The verb means “shake out” or “shaking off.” It has the significance of “throw downward.” See Neh 5:13 or Job 38:13.

72 tn Heb “that was coming after them into the sea.” The referent of “them” (the Israelites) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

73 tn Heb “not was left among them as much as one.”

74 tn The Hebrew term וַיּוֹשַׁע (vayyosha’) is the key summation of the chapter, and this part of the book: “So Yahweh saved Israel.” This is the culmination of all the powerful works of God through these chapters.

75 tn Heb “the hand,” with “hand” being a metonymy for power.

76 tn The participle “dead” is singular, agreeing in form with “Egypt.”

77 tn The preterite with the vav (ו) consecutive introduces a clause that is subordinate to the main points that the verse is making.

78 tn Heb “the great hand,” with “hand” being a metonymy for work or power. The word play using “hand” contrasts the Lord’s hand/power at work on behalf of the Israelites with the hand/power of Egypt that would have killed them.

79 tn Heb “did, made.”

80 tn Heb “and the people feared.”

81 tn The verb is the Hiphil preterite of אָמַן (’aman).

sn S. R. Driver says that the belief intended here is not simply a crediting of a testimony concerning a person or a thing, but a laying firm hold morally on a person or a thing (Exodus, 122). Others take the Hiphil sense to be declarative, and that would indicate a considering of the object of faith trustworthy or dependable, and therefore to be acted on. In this passage it does not mean that here they came to faith, but that they became convinced that he would save them in the future.

82 sn Here the title of “servant” is given to Moses. This is the highest title a mortal can have in the OT – the “servant of Yahweh.” It signifies more than a believer; it describes the individual as acting on behalf of God. For example, when Moses stretched out his hand, God used it as his own (Isa 63:12). Moses was God’s personal representative. The chapter records both a message of salvation and of judgment. Like the earlier account of deliverance at the Passover, this chapter can be a lesson on deliverance from present troubles – if God could do this for Israel, there is no trouble too great for him to overcome. The passage can also be understood as a picture (at least) of the deliverance at the final judgment on the world. But the Israelites used this account for a paradigm of the power of God: namely, God is able to deliver his people from danger because he is the sovereign Lord of creation. His people must learn to trust him, even in desperate situations; they must fear him and not the situation. God can bring any threat to an end by bringing his power to bear in judgment on the wicked.

83 sn This chapter is a song of praise sung by Moses and the people right after the deliverance from the Sea. The song itself is vv. 1b-18; it falls into three sections – praise to God (1b-3), the cause for the praise (4-13), and the conclusion (14-18). The point of the first section is that God’s saving acts inspire praise from his people; the second is that God’s powerful acts deliver his people from the forces of evil; and the third section is that God’s demonstrations of his sovereignty inspire confidence in him by his people. So the Victory Song is very much like the other declarative praise psalms – the resolve to praise, the power of God, the victory over the enemies, the incomparability of God in his redemption, and the fear of the people. See also C. Cohen, “Studies in Early Israelite Poetry I: An Unrecognized Case of Three Line Staircase Parallelism in the Song of the Sea,” JANESCU 7 (1975): 13-17; D. N. Freedman, “Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15,” A Light unto My Path, 163-203; E. Levine, “Neofiti I: A Study of Exodus 15,” Bib 54 (1973): 301-30; T. C. Butler, “‘The Song of the Sea’: Exodus 15:1-18: A Study in the Exegesis of Hebrew Poetry,” DissAb 32 (1971): 2782-A.

84 tn The verb is יָשִׁיר (yashir), a normal imperfect tense form. But after the adverb “then” this form is to be treated as a preterite (see GKC 314-15 §107.c).

85 tn Heb “and they said, saying.” This has been simplified in the translation for stylistic reasons.

86 tn The form is the singular cohortative, expressing the resolution of Moses to sing the song of praise (“I will” being stronger than “I shall”).

87 tn This causal clause gives the reason for and summary of the praise. The Hebrew expression has כִּי־גָּאֹה גָּאָה (ki gaoh gaah). The basic idea of the verb is “rise up loftily” or “proudly.” But derivatives of the root carry the nuance of majesty or pride (S. R. Driver, Exodus, 132). So the idea of the perfect tense with its infinitive absolute may mean “he is highly exalted” or “he has done majestically” or “he is gloriously glorious.”

88 sn The common understanding is that Egypt did not have people riding horses at this time, and so the phrase the horse and its rider is either viewed as an anachronism or is interpreted to mean charioteers. The word “to ride” can mean on a horse or in a chariot. Some have suggested changing “rider” to “chariot” (re-vocalization) to read “the horse and its chariot.”

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

90 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.

91 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.

92 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.

93 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.

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

95 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).

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

97 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.

98 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).

99 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.

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

101 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.

102 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).

103 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.

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

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

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

107 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).

108 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).

109 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.

110 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.

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

112 tn “But” has been supplied here.

113 tn Here “and” has been supplied.

114 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.

115 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.

116 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.

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

118 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.

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

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

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

122 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.

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

124 tn The verb is again a prophetic perfect.

125 tn This is a prophetic perfect.

126 tn This verb is imperfect tense.

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

128 tn The form is an imperfect.

129 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.

130 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.

131 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).

132 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).

133 tn The verb is imperfect.

134 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.

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

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

137 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.

138 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.

139 sn The first event of the Israelites’ desert experience is a failure, for they murmur against Yahweh and are given a stern warning – and the provision of sweet water. The event teaches that God is able to turn bitter water into sweet water for his people, and he promises to do such things if they obey. He can provide for them in the desert – he did not bring them into the desert to let them die. But there is a deeper level to this story – the healing of the water is incidental to the healing of the people, their lack of trust. The passage is arranged in a neat chiasm, starting with a journey (A), ending with the culmination of the journey (A'); developing to bitter water (B), resolving to sweet water (B'); complaints by the people (C), leading to to the instructions for the people (C'); and the central turning point is the wonder miracle (D).

140 tn The verb form is unusual; the normal expression is with the Qal, which expresses that they journeyed. But here the Hiphil is used to underscore that Moses caused them to journey – and he is following God. So the point is that God was leading Israel to the bitter water.

141 sn The mention that they travelled for three days into the desert is deliberately intended to recall Moses’ demand that they go three days into the wilderness to worship. Here, three days in, they find bitter water and complain – not worship.

142 sn The Hebrew word “Marah” means “bitter.” This motif will be repeated four times in this passage to mark the central problem. Earlier in the book the word had been used for the “bitter herbs” in the Passover, recalling the bitter labor in bondage. So there may be a double reference here – to the bitter waters and to Egypt itself – God can deliver from either.

143 tn The infinitive construct here provides the direct object for the verb “to be able,” answering the question of what they were not able to do.

144 tn The causal clause here provides the reason for their being unable to drink the water, as well as a clear motivation for the name.

145 sn Many scholars have attempted to explain these things with natural phenomena. Here Marah is identified with Ain Hawarah. It is said that the waters of this well are notoriously salty and brackish; Robinson said it was six to eight feet in diameter and the water about two feet deep; the water is unpleasant, salty, and somewhat bitter. As a result the Arabs say it is the worst tasting water in the area (W. C. Kaiser, Jr., “Exodus,” EBC 2:398). But that would not be a sufficient amount of water for the number of Israelites in the first place, and in the second, they could not drink it at all. But third, how did Moses change it?

146 tn The עַל־כֵּן (’al-ken) formula in the Pentateuch serves to explain to the reader the reason for the way things were. It does not necessarily mean here that Israel named the place – but they certainly could have.

147 tn Heb “one called its name,” the expression can be translated as a passive verb if the subject is not expressed.

148 tn The verb וַיִּלֹנוּ (vayyillonu) from לוּן (lun) is a much stronger word than “to grumble” or “to complain.” It is used almost exclusively in the wilderness wandering stories, to describe the rebellion of the Israelites against God (see also Ps 59:14-15). They were not merely complaining – they were questioning God’s abilities and motives. The action is something like a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

149 tn The imperfect tense here should be given a potential nuance: “What can we drink?” since the previous verse reports that they were not able to drink the water.

sn It is likely that Moses used words very much like this when he prayed. The difference seems to lie in the prepositions – he cried “to” Yahweh, but the people murmured “against” Moses.

150 tn The verb is וַיּוֹרֵהוּ (vayyorehu, “and he showed him”). It is the Hiphil preterite from יָרָה (yarah), which has a basic meaning of “to point, show, direct.” It then came to mean “to teach”; it is the verb behind the noun “Law” (תּוֹרָה, torah).

sn U. Cassuto notes that here is the clue to the direction of the narrative: Israel needed God’s instruction, the Law, if they were going to enjoy his provisions (Exodus, 184).

151 tn Or “a [piece of] wood” (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, TEV, CEV); NLT “a branch.”

sn S. R. Driver (Exodus, 143) follows some local legends in identifying this tree as one that is supposed to have – even to this day – the properties necessary for making bitter water sweet. B. Jacob (Exodus, 436) reports that no such tree has ever been found, but then he adds that this does not mean there was not such a bush in the earlier days. He believes that here God used a natural means (“showed, instructed”) to sweeten the water. He quotes Ben Sira as saying God had created these things with healing properties in them.

152 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

153 tn Heb “there he”; the referent (the Lord) is supplied for clarity.

154 tn Heb “for him” (referring to Israel as a whole).

155 tn This translation interprets the two nouns as a hendiadys: “a statute and an ordinance” becomes “a binding ordinance.”

156 tn The verb נִסָּהוּ (nissahu, “and he tested him [them]”) is from the root נָסָה (nasah). The use of this word in the Bible indicates that there is question, doubt, or uncertainty about the object being tested.

sn The whole episode was a test from God. He led them there through Moses and let them go hungry and thirsty. He wanted to see how great their faith was.

157 tn The construction uses the infinitive absolute and the imperfect tense of שָׁמַע (shama’). The meaning of the verb is idiomatic here because it is followed by “to the voice of Yahweh your God.” When this is present, the verb is translated “obey.” The construction is in a causal clause. It reads, “If you will diligently obey.” Gesenius points out that the infinitive absolute in a conditional clause also emphasizes the importance of the condition on which the consequence depends (GKC 342-43 §113.o).

158 tn The word order is reversed in the text: “and the right in his eyes you do,” or, “[if] you do what is right in his eyes.” The conditional idea in the first clause is continued in this clause.

159 tn Heb “give ear.” This verb and the next are both perfect tenses with the vav (ו) consecutive; they continue the sequence of the original conditional clause.

160 tn The substantive כָּל־ (kol, “all of”) in a negative clause can be translated “none of.”

161 sn The reference is no doubt to the plagues that Yahweh has just put on them. These will not come on God’s true people. But the interesting thing about a conditional clause like this is that the opposite is also true – “if you do not obey, then I will bring these diseases.”

162 tn The form is רֹפְאֶךָ (rofÿekha), a participle with a pronominal suffix. The word is the predicate after the pronoun “I”: “I [am] your healer.” The suffix is an objective genitive – the Lord heals them.

sn The name I Yahweh am your healer comes as a bit of a surprise. One might expect, “I am Yahweh who heals your water,” but it was the people he came to heal because their faith was weak. God lets Israel know here that he can control the elements of nature to bring about a spiritual response in Israel (see Deut 8).

163 sn Judging from the way the story is told they were not far from the oasis. But God had other plans for them, to see if they would trust him wholeheartedly and obey. They did not do very well this first time, and they will have to learn how to obey. The lesson is clear: God uses adversity to test his people’s loyalty. The response to adversity must be prayer to God, for he can turn the bitter into the sweet, the bad into the good, and the prospect of death into life.



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