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scripture

 

CHAPTER 15

1Then Moses and the Israelites sanga this song to the LORD:*

I will sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;

horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.

2My strength and my refuge is the LORD,

and he has become my savior.b

This is my God, I praise him;

the God of my father, I extol him.

3The LORD is a warrior,

LORD is his name!

4Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;

the elite of his officers were drowned in the Red Sea.*

5The flood waters covered them,

they sank into the depths like a stone.c

6Your right hand, O LORD, magnificent in power,

your right hand, O LORD, shattered the enemy.

7In your great majesty you overthrew your adversaries;

you loosed your wrath to consume them like stubble.

8At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,

the flowing waters stood like a mound,

the flood waters foamed in the midst of the sea.

9The enemy boasted, “I will pursue and overtake them;

I will divide the spoils and have my fill of them;

I will draw my sword; my hand will despoil them!”

10When you blew with your breath, the sea covered them;

like lead they sank in the mighty waters.

11Who is like you among the gods, O LORD?

Who is like you, magnificent among the holy ones?

Awe-inspiring in deeds of renown, worker of wonders,

12when you stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them!

13In your love* you led the people you redeemed;

in your strength you guided them to your holy dwelling.

14The peoples heard and quaked;

anguish gripped the dwellers in Philistia.

15Then were the chieftains of Edom dismayed,

the nobles of Moab seized by trembling;

All the inhabitants of Canaan melted away;

16d terror and dread fell upon them.

By the might of your arm they became silent like stone,

while your people, LORD, passed over,

while the people whom you created passed over.*

17You brought them in, you planted them

on the mountain that is your own—

The place you made the base of your throne, LORD,

the sanctuary, LORD, your hands established.

18May the LORD reign forever and ever!

19When Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen entered the sea, the LORD made the waters of the sea flow back upon them, though the Israelites walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.e 20Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, while all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing; 21and she responded* to them:

Sing to the LORD, for he is gloriously triumphant;

horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.f

V. THE JOURNEY IN THE WILDERNESS TO SINAI

At Marah and Elim. 22g Then Moses led Israel forward from the Red Sea,* and they marched out to the wilderness of Shur. After traveling for three days through the wilderness without finding water, 23they arrived at Marah, where they could not drink its water, because it was too bitter. Hence this place was called Marah. 24As the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” 25he cried out to the LORD, who pointed out to him a piece of wood. When he threw it into the water, the water became fresh.h

It was here that God, in making statutes and ordinances for them, put them to the test. 26He said: If you listen closely to the voice of the LORD, your God, and do what is right in his eyes: if you heed his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases with which I afflicted the Egyptians;i for I, the LORD, am your healer.

27Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.j

* [15:121] This poem, regarded by many scholars as one of the oldest compositions in the Bible, was once an independent work. It has been inserted at this important juncture in the large narrative of Exodus to celebrate God’s saving power, having miraculously delivered the people from their enemies, and ultimately leading them to the promised land.

Although the victory it describes over the Egyptians at the sea bears a superficial resemblance in v. 8 to the preceding depiction of the water standing like a wall (14:22), the poem (as opposed to the following prose verse, v. 19) suggests a different version of the victory at sea than that found in chap. 14. There is no splitting of the sea in an act reminiscent of the Lord’s combat at creation with the sea monsters Rahab and Leviathan (Jb 9:13; 26:12; Ps 74:1314; 89:11; Is 51:910); nor is there mention of an east wind driving the waters back so that the Israelites can cross. In this version it is by means of a storm at sea, caused by a ferocious blast from his nostrils, that the Lord achieves a decisive victory against Pharaoh and his army (vv. 112). The second half of the poem (vv. 1318) describes God’s guidance into the promised land.

* [15:4] Red Sea: the traditional translation of the Hebrew yam suph, which actually means “Sea of Reeds” or “reedy sea.” The location is uncertain, though in view of the route taken by the Israelites from Egypt to Sinai, it could not have been the Red Sea, which is too far south. It was probably a smaller body of water south of the Gulf of Suez. The term occurs also in Exodus at 10:19; 13:18; and 23:31.

* [15:13] Love: the very important Hebrew term hesed carries a variety of nuances depending on context: love, kindness, faithfulness. It is often rendered “steadfast love.” It implies a relationship that generates an obligation and therefore is at home in a covenant context. Cf. 20:6.

* [15:16] Passed over: an allusion to the crossing of the Jordan River (cf. Jos 35), written as if the entry into the promised land had already occurred. This verse suggests that at one time there was a ritual enactment of the conquest at a shrine near the Jordan River which included also a celebration of the victory at the sea.

* [15:21] She responded: Miriam’s refrain echoes the first verse of this song and was probably sung as an antiphon after each verse.

* [15:22] Red Sea: see note on Ex 15:4.

a. [15:1] Ex 15:21.

b. [15:2] Ps 118:14; Is 12:2.

c. [15:5] Neh 9:11.

d. [15:1617] Ps 78:5355.

e. [15:19] Ex 14:2129.

f. [15:21] Ex 15:1.

g. [15:2223] Nm 33:8.

h. [15:25] Sir 38:5.

i. [15:26] Dt 7:15.

j. [15:27] Nm 33:9.






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