Westminster Theological Journal 57 (1995) 453-61

             Copyright © 1995 by Westminster Theological Seminary.  Cited with permission.

 

                                             SHORT STUDIES

 

                                    THE SONG OF REDEMPTION

 

                                       RICHARD D. PATTERSON

 

     One of the loveliest songs in the corpus of Israel's earliest poetry is Moses'

song commemorating Israel's deliverance from the Egyptian forces during

the Exodus from Egypt (Exod 15:1b-18).  The song may be conveniently

outlined as follows:

            I.  Prelude (lb-2)

               A.  Exordium (1b)

               B.  Opening confession/praise (2)

            II.  Singing the Song (3-16)

               A.  First movement: The victory at the Re(e)d Sea (3-5)

                    **Hinging refrain--in praise of Yahweh's invincibility (6)

               B.  Second movement: The vindication of God's sovereignty (7-10)

                        1.  Over his enemy (7)

                        2.  Over the enemy's plans (8-10)

                     **Hinging refrain-in praise of Yahweh's incomparability (11)

               C.  Third movement: The vigor of God's activity (12-16a)

                        1.  As a powerful God of redemption (12-13)

                        2.  As a fearsome God of rebuke (14-16a)

                     **Hinging refrain-in praise of Yahweh's intervention (16b)

            III.  Postlude (17-18)

                A.  Promise: God will return his people to his land and theirs (17)

                B.  Praise: May God (God will) reign forever (18)

 

     The text is located within the narrative concerning Israel's departure

from Egypt as recorded in Exod 13:17-15:21.  The near context (Exod 14:26ff.)

describes Israel's safe crossing through the parted waves of the Re(e)d Sea

before the waters' return to destroy the pursuing Egyptians.  The smooth

flow of the prose narrative from 14:31 to 15:19-21 favors the suggestion that

the poetic piece in 15:1-18 has been inserted into the text to commemorate

the grand event.

     The embedded poetry takes its theme from Miriam's song sung with the

women who customarily lead with singing and dancing at such happy

occasions (e.g., Judges 5; 2 Sam 1:20; 6:5, 14-16, 20-22, etc.).  The final

placement of the poetic text allows the initial thematic exordium of Moses'

song of the sea (15:1) to form an inclusio with the words of Miriam's joyful

                                                                        453

 



454                 WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

 

song (15:21), the double expression of the theme thus serving as a book-

ending device to the whole rehearsal of the passing through the waters.1

     Moses' song has been extensively studied and with many varying results.2

As for genre, Childs remarks: "The Song has been characterized as a hymn

(Fohrer), enthronement psalm (Mowinckel), litany (Beer, Muilenburg),

victory psalm (Cross-Freedman), hymn and thanksgiving psalm (Noth)."3

Structurally it has been declared to have four (Kaiser), three (Cassuto,

Freedman, Muilenburg), or two (Childs, Howell) stanzas.  This study will

treat the poem as a unified victory song consisting of three stanzas (vv. 3-5,

7-10, 12-16a), each followed by a refrain composed in staircase parallelism

(vv. 6, 11, 16b), the whole poem being enclosed by introductory and closing

material (vv. 1b-2, 17-18).5 Having considered these data, the study will

conclude with an examination of the poem's continuing importance in the

preservation of the Exodus theme.

 

                                    I. Structure and Literary Features

     Applying the commonly employed Semitic compositional techniques of

bracketing, hinging, and stitching,6 Muilenburg's structural analysis of the

 

     1 So also D. N. Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," in Pottery, Poetry, and

Prophecy (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1980) 194-95.

     2 See for example, J. J. Burden, "A Stylistic Analysis of Exodus 15:1-21: Theory and

Practice," in Exodus 1-15: Text and Context (ed. J. J. Burden; OTSSA/OTWSA 29 [1986];

Pretoria: Ou Testamentiese Werkgemeenskap in Suid-Afrika, 1987) 34-72; U. Cassuto, A

Commentary on the Book of Exodus (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1967) 172-82; B. S. Childs, The

Book of Exodus (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1974) 240-53; G. W. Coats, "The Traditio-Historical

Character of the Reed Sea Motif," VT 17 (1967) 253-65; id., "The Song of the Sea," CBQ

31 (1969) 1-17; F: M. Cross, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Uni-

versity, 1950) 83-127; D. N. Freedman, "The Song of the Sea," in Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy

(Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1980) 179-84; id., "Strophe," 187-227; M. Howell, "Exodus

15,lb-18: A Poetic Analysis," ETL 65 (1989) 5-42; J. Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Tri-

umphs of Yahweh," in Studio biblica et semitica (Wageningen: H. Veenman and Zonen, N. V:,

1966) 233-51; H. Strauss, "Das Meerlied des Mose-ein 'Siegeslied' Israels?" ZAW 97 (1985)

103-9; J. P. van der Westhuizen, "Literary Device in Exodus 15:1-18 and Deut 32:1-43 as a

Criterion for determining their Literary Standards," in Studies in the Pentateuch (ed. W. C. van

Wyk; OTWSA 17/18; Pretoria: Ou Testamentiese Werkgemeenskap in Suid-Afrika, 1974/75)

57-73. 1

    3 Childs, Exodus, 213.

    4 W. C. Kaiser, Jr., "Exodus," in Expositor's Bible Commentary (12 vols.; Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1990) 2.391-7.

    5 Many have found extensive reflections of the mythic literature of earlier Canaan in the

poem. While common phraseology with such literary sources can be noted here (and even

more extensively elsewhere in the OT; see e.g., Ps 74:13-14; Isa 27:1), even Cassuto, who

champions such relationships (see, e.g., "Biblical and Canaanite Literature," in Biblical and

Oriental Studies Jerusalem: Magnes, 1975] 2.16-59) is forced to admit that "the Torah did not

accept anything of the content of the legends pertaining to the revolt of the sea and its helpers"

(Cassuto, Exodus, 180). The indebtedness is therefore allusive rather than substantive. In any

case, Moses' literary dependence is not under consideration in this study.

     6 See further R. D. Patterson, "Of Bookends, Hinges, and Hooks: Literary Clues to the

Arrangement of Jeremiah's Prophecies," WTJ 51 (1989) 109-31.



                        THE SONG OF REDEMPTION                                          455

 

poem7 appears to be vindicated at every turn.  Thus, the threefold use of

staircase parallelism immediately arrests the reader's attention.  Such poetic

structures are formed by repeating the first poetic line in the third to form

the pattern ab/cd, ab/ef:

            Your right hand, 0 Yahweh,

                Is fearful in strength;

            Your right hand, 0 Yahweh,

                Shatters the enemy. (v. 6)

            Who is like you

                Among the gods, Yahweh?

            Who is like you

                Glorious in holiness,

            Awesome in deeds,

                Working wonders? (v. 11)

            Until there passed over

                Your people, 0 Yahweh;

            Until there passed over

                The people you possess. (v. 16b)

Watson points out that this type of poetry is often used as a variant refrain

and gives Exodus 15 as a classic example.8 The correctness of this conclusion

is underscored by noting that each refrain is preceded by the appearance

of a stanza-closing simile: "like a stone" (vv. 5, 16a), "like lead" (v. 10).

The structural contours of the poem therefore seem clearly established.

     It may be added that each refrain proceeds not only on the basis of the

prior stanza but points to the one that follows.  Thus, Yahweh's great

strength (v. 6) displayed in the sending of Pharaoh's forces to the watery

depths is sung in both surrounding stanzas.  Likewise, Yahweh's incompa-

rable power and holiness (v. 11) find reflection in the surrounding material,

as does Yahweh's intervention on behalf of his people (v. 16b) so as to lead

them to the place of his holy habitation (vv. 13, 17).  Accordingly, the

refrains do double duty as hinging devices.

     Having established the stanza divisions, one can discern further strophic

subdivisions.  Within the second stanza (vv. 7-10), each strophe is intro-

duced by the familiar coordinator plus prepositional phrase:  "And in the

abundance of your majesty" (v. 7); "And by the breath of your nostrils"

(v. 8).  Each strophe also features a simile:  "Like stubble" (v. 7); "Like a

wall" (v. 8).  The second strophe is marked by a simile in its first and last

quatrains ("like a wall," v. 8; "like lead," v. 10) and by the repetition of

the word breath (vv. 8, 10) so as to form a tight inclusio.  The third stanza

(vv. 12-16a) is also made up of two strophes, the first dominated by the

employment of the letter 3 with the primary verbs (vv. 12-13), the second

focusing on the subject of the terror of the nations in and around Canaan

(vv. 14-16a). 

      7 Muilenburg, "Liturgy," 237-8; see also D. N, Freedman, "Strophe," 188-91.

      8 W. G. E. Watson, Classical Hebrew Poetry (Sheffield: JSOT, 1986) 154.



456                 WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

 

Stitching forms a further compositional technique.  For example, the di-

vine name Yahweh is threaded through the entire poem.  The motif of the

sea/waters, found in v. 1, reappears in the first two stanzas (vv. 4, 5, 8, 10);

the motif of the right hand/arm of God provides stitching for the second

and third stanzas (vv. 6, 12, 16a) as well as the closing promise (v. 17); the

theme of holiness, featured in the second refrain (v. 11), is utilized in the

third stanza (v. 13) and the closing promise; and the attention to God's

people stitches together the two strophes of the third stanza (vv. 13, 16).

     Other literary features abound in this short poetic piece.  Alliteration and

assonance are frequent, with certain letters being especially common (e.g.,

b, k, and x).  In addition to several similes, a metaphor occurs in v. 15

(Edom's leaders are called by a term meaning "rams"), and hendiadys

(v. 2, "my strength and defense" = my strong defense; v. 4, "the chariots

of Pharaoh and his army" = Pharaoh's chariot forces; v. 14, "the peoples

heard, they trembled" = the peoples' fearful hearing; v. 16, "terror and

dread" = dreadful terror), synecdoche (v. 1, "horse and its rider" = Pha-

raoh's military forces; v. 6, Yahweh's right hand = Yahweh himself; v. 16,

"by the greatness of your arm" = Yahweh's mighty power; cf. vv. 8, 10,

Yahweh's breath), dramatic irony (v. 9), and rhetorical question (v. 11) may

be noted, as well as a possible instance of merismus (v. 4, chariots and army

= Pharaoh's entire army).9  Paronomasia is often attested, whether in plays"

on roots. (e.g., v. 2, hxg hxg, "highly exalted"; v. 7,  jnvxg, "your majesty")

or individual words (e.g., v. 10, Myrydx Mymb, In the mighty waters; v. 11,

wdqb rdxn, "glorious/mighty in holiness").

 

II. Genre Analysis

     On the basis of similar biblical (e.g., "The Song of Deborah," Judges 5)

and extrabiblical material, Moses' poem is best read as a victory song10

celebrating Yahweh's deliverance of his people through the Re(e)d Sea

and from the pursuing Egyptians.11  The poet begins by taking Miriam's

 

      9 So van der Westhuizen, "Literary Device," 61, although this is properly denied by

Howell, "Poetic Analysis," 21.

     10 For the genre victory song, see Ancient Records of Egypt (ed. J. A. Breasted; New York:

Russell and Russell, 1962) 13.94; P. C. Craigie, "The Song of Deborah and the Epic of

Tukulti-Ninurta," JBL 88 (1969) 253-65; W. E Edgerton and J. A. Wilson, Historical Records

of Ramses III (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1936) 111-12; M. Lichtheim, Ancient Egyptian

Literature (Berkeley: University of California, 1976) 2.35-39, 43-48; R. D. Patterson, "The ,

Song of Deborah," in Tradition and Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg (eds.

John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg; Chicago: Moody, 1981) 142.

      11 For discussion of the relationship between Hebrew Jvs  "reed" and Egyptian twf(y) (or

tawfey, so W. E Albright, The Vocalization of the Egyptian Syllabic Orthography [New Haven:

American Oriental Society, 1966] 65) "papyrus (reed)," see TWOT 2.620; T. O. Lambdin, 1

"Egyptian Loan Words in the Old Testament," JAOS 73 (1953) 153; B. E Batto, "The Reed

Sea: Requiescat in Pace," JBL 102 (1983) 27-35.



THE SONG OF REDEMPTION                              457

 

spontaneous song (Exod 15:21) as his theme.12  Following the exordium

(v. 1),13 the author moves to an opening confession and praise of God as

Israel's and his redeemer.  Yah(weh) is his strong defense and as a delivering

God has become his salvation.  He announces his intention to sing God's

praises in what follows (v. 2).  That Yahweh is a primary focus of attention

throughout the song is clear in the repeated use of the divine name.

      The main body of the song then begins, its first stanza comprising vv. 3-5.

Like many an ancient victory song, it features both a war cry, "Yahweh is

a man of war" (v. 3), and an exulting in the coming of divine aid during

the battle (vv. 4-5).14  God has defeated Pharaoh's troops by sinking them

in the waters of the Re(e)d Sea like a stone.15  Accordingly, utilizing some

dramatic staircase parallelism (v. 6) and a well-designed synecdoche, he

sings of God's mighty "right hand," the symbol of his strength, which has

shattered the enemy forces.

     In the second stanza, the poet returns to his earlier theme of God's

exaltation (vv. 1, 2) by praising God's majesty in his mighty fury against

Israel's enemy.  As is typical of victory songs, the poet once again draws

freely upon the use of simile, describing Pharaoh's forces as crushed and

consumed like stubble (v. 7).16  In a second strophe (vv. 8-10), the poet

employs several well-known victory themes.  (1) He rehearses the setting of

the crucial contest: the Hebrews are faced with the prospect of deep waters

before them and a mighty Egyptian contingent behind them. (2) Divine aid

comes so that the waters are made to congeal and stand up like a wall, thus

securing safe passage for God's people. (3) Using the ancient taunt song, he

tells of the boastful words from the Egyptians' mouths: they would destroy

and despoil their intended prey. Quite the contrary, a mere puff of the

 

     12 Ancient victory songs frequently featured the role of women. For details as to Deborah's

song, see P. C. Craigie, "Deborah and Anat: A Study of Poetic Imagery (Judges 5)," ZAW 90

(1978) 374-81; for a comparison of Exodus 15 and Judges 5, see A. J. Hauser, "Two Songs of

Victory: A Comparison of Exodus 15 and Judges 5," in Directions in Biblical Hebrew Poetry (ed.

Elaine R. Follis; Sheffield: JSOT, 1987) 265-84.

    13 Cassuto notes that beginning poetry with an expression like "I will sing" is "a common

feature both of Eastern and Western poesy" (Exodus, 174).  See further Deut 32:1-2; Judg. 5:3;

cf. Ps 45:1(2) and my remarks in "A Multiplex Approach to Psalm 45," GTJ 6 (1985) 35-36.

See also B. Childs, who notes that "Then sang Moses. . . saying. . . " is a traditional means

for setting a poem within a narrative (Exodus, 248; cf. Deut 31:30; Judg 5:1; I Sam 2:1).

     14 Craigie, “Song of Deborah," 256-58.

     15 The parallelism and paronomasia in v. 4 are striking, the poet beginning the first and

third lines with words whose initial letter is D, and ending the second and fourth lines with

references to the sea:

markebot par'oh wehelo [Pharaoh's chariot forces]

     yara bayyam [He hurled into the sea;]

            umibhar salisayw [Even his choicest troops]

    tubbe'u beyam-sup [Are drowned in the Re(e)d Sea.]

   16 Paronomasia is again evident. Earlier (v. 1) the poet had praised God with the phrase

hxg hxg, "He is highly exalted"; here he speaks of the jnvxg br, "the abundance of your

majesty."



458                 WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

 

divine breath had been sufficient to sink them like lead in the mighty

waters.17  The sarcasm is evident.18  No wonder the poet can burst forth in

Iexultation formed of staccato-like phrases in rhetorical questions, "Who is

like you, Yahweh?"  For Israel's God is the incomparable One--glorious in

holiness, awesome in deeds, and a worker of wonders (v. 11)

     Building on this refrain, the author moves to a third stanza, once again

falling into two strophes.  The first (vv. 12-13) is built purposely around

three verbs beginning with the letter n:  tyFn, tyHn, tlhn--"You stretch out"

(your right hand; cf. v. 6), "You lead" (in your lovingkindness), and "You

guide" (them by your strength), The emphasis is threefold:  (1) Israel's God

is a powerful God; (2) he is one who treats his redeemed people as family;

and (3) he is the One who firmly guides them to his "holy [cf. v. 11]

habitation"--probably Mount Sinai.

    The second strophe (signaled by opening 3/3 meter) advances the

thought to post-battle details.  Moving past Sinai, the author considers the

wilderness experience (vv. 14-16).  Once again potential enemies are carica-

tured as helpless before Israel's God.19  They are described as trembling and

shaking, seized by anguish and horror, and so afraid that they melt away

because of the dreadful fear (v. 16a) that falls upon them so greatly that they

are rendered incapacitated--"dumb as stone."

    The following refrain sings of the peculiar relation that Israel enjoyed

with its God. His divine aid had come because, as his redeemed people,

they are those whom he has taken possession of for himself (v. 16b).  Hence,

he protected Israel from potential danger throughout the long and perilous

journey through the wilderness.

     As the third transitional refrain blends into final postlude, the poet con-

cludes with a promise (v. 17) and a praise (v. 18).  In so doing he changes

from using past-tense verbs to a future one:  "You will bring them."  The

God who had redeemed his people out of Egypt, and who had delivered

them through the Re( e)d Sea and from enemies during the wilderness trek,

could be counted on to lead them into the land of promise.  As he had

 

     17 Moses literary abilities may be seen in his use of "breath," "waters," an "sea" so as

to yield a chiastic effect in vv. 8-10.  He also employs paronomasia with great effectiveness, the

root utilized to describe God's mighty right hand in v. 6 being used in v. 10 of the mighty

waters.  He will call upon it again in v. 11 in speaking of God's glorious holiness.

     18 M. Howell sees in the recording of the enemy's intentions a touch of dramatic irony--the

reader already knows the failed outcome of the Egyptians' efforts ("Poetic Analysis," 28).

    19 Placing the terror of the Philistines in juxtaposition with that of the Transjordanian

nations reinforces the fear that gripped the whole region, as expressed in the last line of v. 15.

The Scriptures (particularly the prophets) characteristically pronounced the fate of the foreign

nations in some sort of geographic pattern that crisscrossed the land/country/city that was the

focus of the denunciation, See my remarks in "Old Testament Prophecy," in A Complete

Literary Guide to the Bible (eds. Leland Ryken and Tremper Longman III; Grand Rapids:

Zondervan, 1993) 296-309.



THE SONG OF REDEMPTION                                          459

 

brought them to his holy habitation20 on Sinai (v. 13), he will yet bring

them to his intended holy sanctuary and their dwelling place.  Accordingly,

Yahweh can duly be praised.

 

III. Transmission of the Song

     The victory at the Re(e)d Sea, together with the following movements

that culminated in the conquest, remained indelibly written in Israel's

memory.  The song itself was reechoed by many writers in subsequent genera-

tions.  The opening praise of v. 2 is repeated by the psalmist (Ps 118:14) and

Isaiah (12:2).  The song's phraseology and/or imagery is often drawn upon

by others.  Thus, David in Psalm 18 speaks of God as "my strength" (v. 1),

"my fortress" (v. 2), and "my salvation" (v. 46; cf. Hab 3:18), all drawn

from Exod 15:2, while “the breath of his nostrils" (Exod 15:8) is found in

v. 15.  The kindling fire of v. 8 may also stem from Exod 15:7.  Psalm 77

appears indebted to Exodus 15, employing the imagery of the right hand,

the way through the waters, and the divine guiding of God's people (vv. 17,

19, 20).  Further allusions may be found in God's "holy dwelling" (Exod 15:13)

in Ps 68:6 (cf. Ps 114:2; Obad 16; Hab 2:20; Zeph 3:11), as well as the use

of the "trembling earth" of Exod 15:7-8 in Ps 114:7; Judg 5:4-5.21 Isaiah

seems to have drawn upon Exod 15:1-18 in many places (e.g., cf. v. 2 with

Isa 12:2; v. 8 with Isa 43:16; v. 9 with Isa 9:3; v. 10 with Isa. 11:4; 30:33; 40:7;

v. 11 with Isa 6:3, 35:2; 40:5; 46:5, v. 17 with Isa 5:2; 60:21).  The memory

of the safe passage through the waters, so important to Exodus 15,22 is often

rehearsed (e.g., Deut 11:4; Josh 2:10; 4:23; 24:6; Ps 66:6; 77:16,19; 106:7-9,

22; 114:3, 5; 136:13, 15; Jer 49:4), as is the subsequent wilderness experience

(e.g., Ps 78:52; 107:33-38; Jer 2:2-6; Ezek 20:10; Hos 2:15; Amos 2:10).

     Some evidence exists that the Exodus may have also been commemorated

in epic fashion.  That story can be sketched at least preliminarily not only

in several of the above mentioned texts (e.g., Ps 18:8-16; 68:8-9; 77:17-20;

114) but also by comparing Exod 15:1-18 with Hab 3:3-7, 8-15.23  Like the

epics of the nations round about her, Israel's poets in the Exodus cycle

focused on a central hero, God himself.24  Other epic elements include:

 

    20 Paronomasiacan also be felt here. He who was glorious in holiness (v. 11) and had guided

his people to his holy habitation on Mount Sinai (v. 13) now is seen as having already prepared

his holy sanctuary in the promised land of inheritance.

     21 For interesting studies of these verses, see A Globe, "The Text and Literary Structure

of Judges 5, 4-5," Bib 55 (1974) 168-79; E. Lipinski, "Judges 5,4-5 et Psaume 68,8-11," Bib

48 (1967) 185-206.

     22 See Hauser, "Two Songs," 270-73.

     23 See R. D. Patterson, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah (Chicago: Moody, 1991) 267-72.

     24 L. Ryken, however, terms this an "anti-epic note" (Words of Delight [Grand Rapids:

Baker, 1987] 133).



460                 WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL JOURNAL

 

(1) the account of a perilous journey--from Egypt to Canaan; (2) the sur-

viving of a critical contest-the Re(e)d Sea; (3) the hero's great personal

qualities such as magnificence and grandeur, awe-inspiring might, and

munificence and concern for others; and (4) the stylistic employment of

such literary features as static epithets, set parallel terms, and a lofty tone.25

Whether or not Israel formally possessed such an epic poem, the story of

the Exodus was often retold.  Indeed, the poetry of the Exodus cycle was to

form the basic twofold confession of national consciousness: Yahweh  "brought

the people out of Egypt" and "brought them in to the promised land."26

The whole story formed one grand event through which a redeemed people

was to realize life's full potential and finest blessing.27  Indeed, the Exodus

event became the spiritual basis for all of Israel's redemptive experience,

nationally and individually.  As such it is cited or alluded to throughout

the pages of the OT (e.g., Josh 3:5; 4:14, 18-24; 5:10-18; I Sam 12:6;

Ps 105:26-45; 106:7-12;Jer 11:7; etc.), the traditional account often being

recast by Israel's prophets in portraying God's future intervention on behalf

of his people so as to bring them once again to the land of blessing (e.g.,

Isa 11:11-16; 51:9-11; Jer 16:14-15; 23:7-8; Mic 7:14-15).  The Exodus

theme also is found in such intertestamental pieces as 3 Maccabees (2:6-8;

6:4), 1 Enoch (89:10-27), and Jubilees (chap. 49), and in many NT contexts,

especially the book of Revelation (e.g., 15:3-4), where the traditional Exo-

dus material is often drawn upon to picture coming apocalyptic events.28

 

    25 For the features of epic genre see C. M. Ing, "Epic," in Cassell's Encyclopaedia of Literature

(ed. S. H. Steinberg; London: Cassell, 1953) 1.195-200; for epic in the ancient Mediterranean

world, see my remarks in "The Song of Habakkuk," GTJ 8 (1987) 178-85.

     26 B. W. Anderson, "The Song of Miriam Poetically and Theologically Considered," in

Directions in Biblical Hebrew Poetry (ed. Elaine R. Follis; Sheffield, JSOT, 1987) 287.

    27 E. A. Martens, God's Design (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981) 96.

    28 F. F. Bruce appropriately remarks, "The presentation of the redemptive work of Christ

in terms of the Exodus motif in so many strands of New Testament teaching shows how

primitive was the Christian use of this motif-going back, quite probably, to the period of

Jesus' ministry".  Jesus' contemporaries freely identified Him as a second Moses--the expecta-

tion of a second Moses played an important part in popular eschatology at the time--and with

the expectation of a second Moses went very naturally the expectation of a second Exodus"

(The New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968] 49).

      Tremper Longman III mentions the pervasive presence of the divine warrior motif in

the book of Revelation ("The Divine Warrior: The New Testament Use of an Old Testament

Motif," WTJ 44 [1982] 297 -302).  This motif may be particularly apropos for Revelation due

to the pervasive presence of the Exodus motif, particularly as centered in the theme of a new

Exodus.  Thus, with regard to the great Te Deum of 19:1-10,  G. R. Beasley-Murray remarks,

"Heaven gives praise to God for the deliverance from the oppressor tyrant of Babylon--the

contemporary 'Pharaoh'--and the saints give praise for the inheritance of the kingdom, and

for that special fulfillment of the passover and the Christian eucharist in the marriage-supper

of the Lamb" (The Book of Revelation [NCBC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981] 271).  For the

divine warrior motif itself, see E M. Cross, Jr., "The Divine Warrior in Israel's Early Cult,"

in Biblical Motifs (ed. Alexander Altmann; Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1966) 11-30;

Tremper Longman III, "Psalm 98: A Divine Warrior Victory Song," JETS 27 (1984) 267-74.



THE SONG OF REDEMPTION                                          461

 

     Both in its original setting and in its oft retelling, Moses' great victory

song of redemption continues to be felt in the lives of today's redeemed as

well as those of yesteryear.  Habakkuk's reaction to the contemplation of

that grand event can perhaps give assurance and direction to us all; come

what may, "Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior,

the Sovereign LORD is my strength" (Hab 3:18-19).

 

121 Lafayette Place

Forest, Virginia 24551-1325

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the importance of the use of the Exodus motif as a basis of future hope, note the comments

of W. A. VanGemeren, Interpreting the Prophetic Word (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990) 276:

"Just as the restoration from exile was like a second Exodus, so the coming of Christ is like a

third Exodus because he has come to lead sinners--Jews and Gentiles--into the full experience

of salvation."

 

 

 

This material is cited with gracious permission from:

            Westminster Theological Seminary

            Chestnut Hill

            Philadelphia,  PA   19118

            www.wts.edu

Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at:  thildebrandt@gordon.edu