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Exodus 15:1-19

Context
The Song of Triumph

15:1 1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang 2  this song to the Lord. They said, 3 

“I will sing 4  to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously, 5 

the horse and its rider 6  he has thrown into the sea.

15:2 The Lord 7  is my strength and my song, 8 

and he has become my salvation.

This is my God, and I will praise him, 9 

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

15:3 The Lord is a warrior, 10 

the Lord is his name. 11 

15:4 The chariots of Pharaoh 12  and his army he has thrown into the sea,

and his chosen 13  officers were drowned 14  in the Red Sea.

15:5 The depths have covered them, 15 

they went down to the bottom 16  like a stone.

15:6 Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic 17  in power,

your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.

15:7 In the abundance of your majesty 18  you have overthrown 19 

those who rise up against you. 20 

You sent forth 21  your wrath; 22 

it consumed them 23  like stubble.

15:8 By the blast of your nostrils 24  the waters were piled up,

the flowing water stood upright like a heap, 25 

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

15:9 The enemy said, ‘I will chase, 26  I will overtake,

I will divide the spoil;

my desire 27  will be satisfied on them.

I will draw 28  my sword, my hand will destroy them.’ 29 

15:10 But 30  you blew with your breath, and 31  the sea covered them.

They sank 32  like lead in the mighty waters.

15:11 Who is like you, 33  O Lord, among the gods? 34 

Who is like you? – majestic in holiness, fearful in praises, 35  working wonders?

15:12 You stretched out your right hand,

the earth swallowed them. 36 

15:13 By your loyal love you will lead 37  the people whom 38  you have redeemed;

you will guide 39  them by your strength to your holy dwelling place.

15:14 The nations will hear 40  and tremble;

anguish 41  will seize 42  the inhabitants of Philistia.

15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified, 43 

trembling will seize 44  the leaders of Moab,

and the inhabitants of Canaan will shake.

15:16 Fear and dread 45  will fall 46  on them;

by the greatness 47  of your arm they will be as still as stone 48 

until 49  your people pass by, O Lord,

until the people whom you have bought 50  pass by.

15:17 You will bring them in 51  and plant them in the mountain 52  of your inheritance,

in the place you made 53  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.”

1 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.

2 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).

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

4 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”).

5 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.”

6 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.”

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

8 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.

9 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.

10 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.

11 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.

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

13 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).

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

15 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.

16 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).

17 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.

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

19 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.

20 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).

21 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.

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

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

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

25 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).

26 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).

27 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.

28 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.

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

30 tn “But” has been supplied here.

31 tn Here “and” has been supplied.

32 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.

33 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.

34 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.

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

36 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.

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

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

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

40 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.

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

42 tn The verb is again a prophetic perfect.

43 tn This is a prophetic perfect.

44 tn This verb is imperfect tense.

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

46 tn The form is an imperfect.

47 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.

48 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.

49 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).

50 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).

51 tn The verb is imperfect.

52 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.

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



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