CARMEN MARIS ALGOSI: AN EXEGETICAL STUDY

       OF EXODUS 15:1-18

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

      by

                         Robert V. McCabe, Jr.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements

               for the degree of Master of Theology in

        Grace Theological Seminary

           May 1981

 


Carmen Maris Algosi: An Exegetical Study of Exodus 15:1-18

Robert V. McCabe, Jr.

Th. M.

February 20, 1980

Professors Fowler and Zemek

 

The literature of the ancient Near East has given the invitation for a

conservative interpreter to do an exegetical, study of Exodus 15:1-18. The

purpose of this thesis was to use the historical grammatical hermeneutic to

examine the interpretative problems in this pericope of Hebrew poetry.

The problems focused upon the interpreter's hermeneutical approach, the

interpretation of key terms, the examination of some of the textual problems,

and an analysis of the important syntactical elements in the Song of the Reed Sea.

The usage of form criticism and tradition history as an hermeneutical

approach was examined in reference to the critical interpretative considerations.

It was demonstrated that the title "Song of Miriam" was affected by a traditio-

historical hermeneutic. It was observed that the usage of the form-critical and

traditio-historical approach in answering the question about unity way not built

upon objective proof but rather it was built of evolutionary presuppositions.

Mosaic authorship was defended n light of the themes shared both in this song

and the other books of the Pentateuch. A conservative date in the fifteenth

century B.C. was confirmed by a number of philological arguments. The genre

of this song has also been affected by form criticism. Five of the most prominent

explanations of the Gattungen were examined and it was concluded that Exodus

15:1-18 may have had a number of literary types and hence it is an enigma for

form critical purposes. It was also demonstrated that the traditio-historical

interpretation of the setting has divorced Exodus 15:1-18 from its historical

setting. The salient point of the strophic structure is the refrains in verses 6, 11,

and 16. In light of the confusion in the various metrical studies, it was concluded

that this was an invalid method of study.

Chapter IV dealt with the exegesis of this song. This involved an

examination of problem terms. In many cases the cognate Semitic languages had

to be consulted. It was discovered that Moses made use of parallel pairs. The

abundance of them apparently implies that the poet had at his disposal a literary

tradition from which he could draw these fixed pairs. In the process of inspiration,

the Spirit of God guided Moses so that he used this literary tradition to help

in composing the Song of the Rees Sea. The textual problems were considered

in light of the assumption that the Masoretic Text was terminus a quo in textual

criticism. The syntactical aspects of this passage were examined. Ugaritic was

of great benefit for this aspect of research. Its importance was most profound for

the examination of an example of three-line staircase parallelism in verse 11.  In

light of this study, it would be appropriate to conclude that the Song of the Reed

Sea is a classic example of archaic Hebrew poetry.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Accepted by the Faculty of Grace Theological Seminary

  in partial fulfillment of requirements for the degree

Master of Theology

 

 

 

Examining Committee

 

                                 Donald Fowler

 

         George Zemek

 

 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Page

CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 1

A Statement of Problems  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              1

The Importance of This Study  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               5

The Method of This Study  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               6

The Limitations of This Study  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               11

CHAPTER II. PRELIMINARY INTERPRETATIVE CONSIDERATIONS          12

Title  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              12

Song of Miriam  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             12

Song of Moses  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              13

Song of the Reed Sea  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              14

Unity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               15

Authorship  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             21

Date  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               26

Late Date  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              26

Earlier Date  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               28

Conservative Date  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               29

Philological Arguments for a Conservative Date . . . . . . . .            29

CHAPTER III. CRITICAL INTERPRETATIVE CONSIDERATIONS . .              40

Genre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              40

The Gattungen Is a Hymn  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            41

The Gattungen Is a Hymn of Thanksgiving . . . . . . . . . . . . .            42

The Gattungen Is a Hymn of Divine Enthronement . . . . . . .           43

The Gattungen Is a Litany.    . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          44

The Gattungen Is a Hymn of Victory  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          46

An Evaluation of These Studies of the

Gattungen of Exodus 15:1-18  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            46

Setting  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            48

Enthronement Festival of Yahweh   . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          51

Covenant Festival of Yahweh  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             52

Autumnal Festival of Yahweh  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            57

An Evaluation of Cultic Interpretations  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          58

Strophe and Meter  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             59

Strophe  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             60

Meter  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           71

CHAPTER IV. EXEGESIS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             77

Prose Introduction  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            77

The Usage of the Imperfect  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           77

The Etymological Problem with hw,mo  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          78

Exordium  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            83

A Textual Problem with hrAywixA . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            83

The Tetragrammaton  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             84

An Examination of  hxAGA. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             90

A Possible Anachronism Obk;ro? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            91

iv


Strophe 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             93

Hymnic Confession  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           93

Historical Narrative  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           111

Refrain 1  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             122

An Anthropomorphism for Yahweh's Strength. . . . . . . . . . .          122

An Etymological and Morphological

Treatment of yriDAx;n, . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             123

Strophe 2  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              130

Hymnic Confession  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           131

Historical Narrative . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           141

Refrain 2  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             145

Three-Line Staircase Parallelism  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         146

The Parallel Usage of ymi  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          150

The Archaic Orthography of hkAmoKA  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        150

A Parallel Pair Reconsidered  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          150

Strophe 3  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             153

Hymnic Confession. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           153    

Prophetic Narrative.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           162

Refrain 3  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             163

Coda  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            164

A Reference to the Land or Yahweh's Sanctuary? . . . . . . . .          164

An Examination of ynAdoxE  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            171

Yahweh’s Eternal Kingship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            173

 

CHAPTER V. CONCLUSIONS  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              177

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY      . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             180

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v
PREFACE

 

I would like to thank some of the individuals who

have contributed their time an effort, which without these,

it would have been impossible to complete this thesis.

Foremost, I would like to thank my God and Savior,

the Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His sovereign grace

has saved me and guided me to this seminary.

I would also like to express my gratitude to Profes-

sor Fowler and Professor Zemek for their patience and advice

in preparation of this paper. At the outset of my research

Mr. Fowler suggested key articles and books which were very

helpful in the composition of his thesis.

A special thanks goes to Dr. James Price and Profes-

sor Stephen Schrader of Temple Baptist Theological Seminary

for their help. Professor Schrader has suggested articles

and provided me with books from his library.

It is also necessary to express my thanks to the

faculty of Grace Theological Seminary for their dedication

in training men for the Christian ministry.

I would also like to thank my wife and three child-

ren who have been patient and helpful in my seminary educa-

tion. My parents have also been helpful with their prayers

and love.

 

 

 

vi


 

 

 

CHAPTER I

 

 

       INTRODUCTION

 

 

A Statement of Problems

 

Among the poetic sections of the Old Testament, few

have captured the imagination or scholars as has carmen

maris algosi,1 Exodus 15:1-18. The discovery of Ugaritic

literature has been very influential in stimulating interest

in Exodus 15:1-18 because of its poetical nature. Freedman

has succinctly observed:

 

     Continuing discovery and publication of Canaanite

cuneiform tablets, current research into the language

and forms of early Hebrew poetry, and recent contribu-

tions to the elucidation of the poem in Exodus 15 have

recommended further reflections on and reconsideration

of certain aspects of this national victory song.

 

Hermeneutical Approach

 

An aspect of this pericope of archaic Hebrew poetry

which has been problematic pertains to the interpreter's

hermeneutical approach to Exodus 15:1-18. Most studies of

 

 

1 Translated: "The Song of the Reed Sea." This is

taken from the Old Latin Version. This was one of the few

translations which was not influenced by the Septuagint's

translation of JUs-Mya' as e]ruqrh>  qa<lassa.

2 David Noel Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus

15," A Light unto My Path: Old Testament Studies in Honor

of Jacob M. Myers, ed. by Howard N. Bream, Ralph D. Heim,

and Carey A. Moore (Philadelphia: Temple University Press,

1974), p. 163.


                                                                                                2

this passage which are examined in the light of the ancient

Near Eastern literature are based upon a form-critical and

traditio-historical methodology This has influenced the

areas of dating, authorship, and unity. Coats has con-

cluded that Exodus 15:1-18 is a basic unit, "a form-critical

and a traditio-historical unit.”1 This approach has also

affected Cross and Freedman's preference for a title for

this song. They have suggested that Exodus 15:1-18 could

legitimately be called either "the Song of Moses" or "the

Song of Miriam." They prefer the latter title for verse 21

has preserved the latter title from the superior tradition.2

            Form criticism has also affected the analysis of the

Gattungen in Exodus 15. Rozellar has classified this as a

hymn,3 Noth as a hymn of thanksgiving,4 and Muilenburg as a

litany.5 Form criticism has also influenced the interpre-

tation of the Sitz im Leben. Mowinckel has related this to

 

1 George W. Coats, "The Song of the Sea," Catholic

Bible Quarterly, XXXI:1 (January, 1969), 17.

2 Frank M. Cross, Jr. and David Noel Freedman, "The

Song of Miriam," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, XIV:4

(October, 1955), 237.

3 Marc Rozellar, "The Song of the Sea," Vetus

Testamentum, 11:3 (July, 1952), 227.

4 Martin Noth, Exodus, he Old Testament Library,

trans. by J. S. Bowden (Philadelphia: Westminster Press,

1962), p. 123.

5 James Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of

Yahweh," Studia Biblica et Semitica: Vriezen Festschrift

(Wageningen: H. Veenman and Zonen, 1966), pp. 236-37.


3

to the enthronement festival of Yahweh.1 Cross has main-

tained that the cultic setting is in the covenantal festival

of Yahweh.2 Muilenburg has however traced its provenance to

the autumnal festival of Yahweh.3 A major problem, there-

fore, pertains to hermeneutical approaches to the Song of

the Reed Sea.

      Interpretation of Terms

Another problem relates to the interpretation of key

terms, in Exodus 15:1-18. Should the term Obk;ro in verse 1,

be translated as "chariot" or "charioteer"? If the former

is preferred, this may suggest that Obk;ro is anachronistic.

The etymological background of vywAliwA, in verse 4, has been

related to a Hittite, Egyptian, and Ugaritic background.

ynAdoxE in verse 17, has been related to an Arabic, Egyptian,

and Ugaritic root. The usage of  Cr,x, in verse 12 is an

enigma. Did the ground swallow the Egyptian army or did

they drown in the Reed Sea? Possibly Cr,x, is a reference to

the underworld of mythology? It may however be understood

 

1 Sigmund Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship,

trans. by D. R. Ap-Thomas (2 vols. in 1: New York:

Abingdon Press, 1967), I, 126.

2 Frank Moore Cross, Jr., "The Divine Warrior in

Israel's Early' Cult," in Biblical Motifs; Origins and

Transformations, ed. by Alexander Altmann, Philip W. Lown

Institute of Advanced Judaic Studies, Brandeis University,

Studies and Texts, Vol. III (Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Harvard University Press, 1966), p. 27.

3 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 236.


4

as a metaphor for death?

Another question relates to the interpretation of

wdAq.;mi in verse 17. This word is usually rendered "temple."

Some critical scholars have consequently interpreted this as

a reference to the Solomonic Tenple.1 If this is the case,

this is an anachronism; unless this is to be regarded as a

prophetic reference.2 This may however be a reference to

another earthly tabernacle? Possibly this could be a refer-

ence to the land?

There are a number of fixed pairs in this song. The

mere mention of fixed pairs with some conservatives is

tantamount to violating the third commandment. The wide-

spread usage of parallel pairs indicates that their appear-

ance in the Song of the Reed Sea is not coincidental. Their

usage in this song demands interpretation. How do these

relate to the Israelite poet? Does this mean that Israel

shared a common literary milieu with the other nations in

the ancient Near East? This random selection of key terms

reflects some of the problems related to their interpreta-

tion.

 

1 S. R. Driver, The Book of Exodus, in The Cambridge

Bible for Schools and Colleges, ed. by A. F. Kirkpatrick

(Cambridge: University Press, 1918), p. 139.

2 See C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch,

Vol. II, trans. by James Martin, Commentary on the Old

Testament (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing

Company, 1949), p. 55.


                                                                                                                        5

Textual-Problems

 

There are a number of textual problems in this song

Verse 2 reads:  h.yA trAm;ziv; yzifA.  The Samaritan Pentateuch and

Vulgate have added the first common singular pronominal

suffix to trAm;zi. Does this indicate that the Masoretic Text

should be emended? Is this an example of haplography? It

has also been suggested that this might be an example of

"the Textual ambivalence of Hebrew consonants"?l The tex-

tual problems will be examined in this thesis, yet this

writer has based his work on the a priori assumption that

Masoretic Text is the fundamental witness to the original

consonantal text which was qeo<pneustoj. Therefore, the

Masoretic Text is terminus a quo in textual criticism.

Many more examples could have been chosen to show

the many problems which are an inherent part of Exodus 15:

1-18; however, these will be discussed in their proper

context. This provides an important background for the

next section.

The Importance of this Study

Studies in Exodus 15:1- 8 are legion. Most conser-

vative interpreters have not availed themselves of the

various resources which modern scholarship has unveiled from

the ancient Near East. Conservatives who have written

 

1 I. O. Lehman, "A Forgotten Principle of Biblical

Textual Tradition Rediscovered," Journal of Near Eastern

Studies, 26:2 (April, 1967), 93.


6

commentaries have usually given an overview of this pericope

and may have done exegetical work on a few key terms.1

Craigie has compared the Song of the Reed Sea with the

Canaanite literature from Ugarit, yet his work is related to

only one aspect of this song.2

Most of the studies which have interacted with the

literature presently available from the ancient Near East

were written by critical scholars.3 These works were often

written from a form-critical and/or a traditio-historical

perspective or they have been strongly influenced with the

attendant presuppositions. It would therefore appear that a

study written by a conservative interpreter would be of some

benefit to the Christian community.

 

The Method of this Study

                              The Relationship to the Scope

The aim of this study is not to do a verse by verse

exegesis. The aim rather is to do a thorough exegesis and

 

1 See Alan R. Cole, Exodus (Downers Grove, Illinois:

Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 123-26.

2 P. C. Craigie, "The Poetry of Ugarit and Israel,"

Tyndale Bulletin, 22 (1971), 19-26.

3 In this thesis the term critical will generally be

used in reference to those who use form criticism, tradition

history, literary and redaction criticism to question the

Mosaic authorship of Exodus 15:1-18. When the term critical

is not used in this specific manner, but in a more general

sense, it will usually be modifies by an adjective such as

conservative, hence the conservative critical scholar.


                                                                                                            7

to analyze problems which have been elucidated from modern

scholarship. The aspects of this song which are relevant to

this goal will accordingly be examined.

 

The Relationship to the Procedure

A rejection of the critics' methodology

Rather than using the hermeneutical methodology of

the critics, this writer will use the historical-grammatical

hermeneutic. There are three reasons for rejecting the

critics' methodology. First, Biblical critics are not

trustworthy. This is not to say that their work is desti-

tute of any value. Their scholarship certainly has great

worth, however they do not have sound literary judgment

because they do not respect the quality of the Biblical

text.1 Second, they are skeptical of the miraculous. If a

Biblical event is of a miraculous nature, it must be ques-

tionable if it is unexplainable with scientific or rational

reasons. If Exodus 15:1-18 is divested of the supernatural,

then it is merely another tradition as the critics claim.

These critics have been influenced by "the spirit of the age

they grew up in."2 Third, the critics reconstruction of the

provenance of the texts which they have studied is super-

ficial. They ask questions such as: "what vanished

 

1 C. S. Lewis, "Faulting the Bible Critics,"

Christianity Today, XI:18 (June 9, 1967), 7.

2 Ibid., p. 8.


8

documents each author used, w en and where he wrote, with

what purposes, under what influences--the whole  Sitz im,

Leben of the text."1 The critics have overwhelming obsta-

cles against them. There is almost a 3500 year gap between

them and Exodus 15. There are tremendous religious and

cultural differences. The habits of composition and assump-

tions of Biblical writers are often nebulous. Although the

interpreter has greater light than ever before, these

problems must mitigate the critics' reconstruction of the

genesis of the Biblical texts. The fact is, who is in a

position to say that the Song of Miriam in Exodus 15:21

is the provenance of verses 1- 8. With the critics' pre-

suppositions their reconstructions cannot be proven wrong,

unless Moses was here to defend himself2 and even then his

authorship may still be questioned. The labyrinthian maze

of the critics must therefore be rejected.

 

A return to historical grammatical exegesis

Definitions

There are two key words which are significant to

this methodology and they will need to be defined. The

Greek term e[rmhneu<w means to "explain, interpret, proclaim,

 

1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., p. 9.


9

translate."1 The English term hermeneutics is derived from

this word. The word exegesis is derived from the Greek word

e]chge<omai which means to "explain, interpret, tell, report,

describe."2 Both terms are closely related as Mare has

observed:

Historical grammatical exegesis will be developed from

the viewpoint that there is an inter-action and inter-

relation between hermenia and exegesis and that they

both are concerned with the principles of interpretation

which the interpreter applies to the ancient texts of

Scripture to determine its meaning in its own setting

and culture.3

 

Presuppositions

The conservative interpreter using the historical

grammatical approach to hermeneutics needs to have certain

presuppositions. To say that an interpreter has no presup-

positions may sound auspicious, nevertheless this would

place one in a spurious academic vacuum. The conservative

must be enamoured with two presuppositions. The first pre-

supposition is that the interpreter adhere to the doctrine

of verbal inerrancy and inspiration of the canonical books

of the Bible. This is sine qua non for a conservative.4

 

1 William F. Arndt and Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-

English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early

Christian Literature (4th rev. and aug. ed.; Chicago:

University of Chicago Press, 1952), pp. 309-10.

2 Ibid., p. 275.

3 W. Harold Mare, "Guiding Principles for Historical

Grammatical Exegesis," Grace Journal, 14:3 (Fall, 1973), 14.

4 Bernard Ramm, Protestant Biblical Interpretation

(3rd rev. ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1970), p. 93


                                                                                                            10

Another presupposition is a belief in genuine history. Mare

has succinctly stated:           

Another important presupposition for conservative her-

meneutics is the principle of a personal historical

scientific research which sincerely approaches the

subject studied from an objective scientific viewpoint

and, while doing so, realizes that there is something

            out there that really factually happened in the past.1

 

Procedure

The use of historical grammatical exegesis involves

the usage of language and history. The usage of language

has two basic aspects: lexical2 and syntactical exegesis.

This not only involves the usage of Hebrew but also the

other Semitic languages when necessary. The historical

aspect of this exegetical method pertains to such details

as authorship and cultural setting.3 It is especially

important with the cultural setting to be acquainted with

the ancient Near Eastern milieu. The method in this study

therefore is the historical grammatical exegetical approach.

 

1 Mare, "Guiding Principles for Historical Grammat-

ical Exegesis," pp. 16-17; see also Merrill F. Unger,

"Scientific Biblical Criticism and Exegesis," Bibliotheca

Sacra, 121:481 (January-March, 964), 57-65.

2 A very helpful article in this area is by James L.

Boyer, "Semantics in Biblical Interpretation," Grace

Journal, 3:2 (Spring, 1962), 25 34.

3 Mare, "Guiding Principles for Historical Grammat-

ical Exegesis," pp. 19-22.


11

The Limitations of this Study

There are certain limitations which should be

acknowledged. Archeology has illuminated many aspects of

the cultural milieu of the second millennium B.C. Archeol-

ogy has also provided the student of the Old Testament the

cognate languages which are helpful in relation to the gram-

matical aspects of exegesis. It is too early to speculate

about the influence that Ebla will have on Old Testament

studies, but it certainly makes this writer cognizant of the

finite nature of this study.

Another limitation pertains to the writer's academic

inabilities. In a number of places it was necessary to use

cognate languages, yet the writer must confess that he is a

novice in using comparative Semitic languages. It is never-

theless hoped that their usage as been enlightening and not

inhibiting.1 A goal for this study has been to be as

thorough as possible, yet there obviously will be areas

where this goal may not have been achieved. It is never-

theless desired that this thesis will be of some value for a

better understanding of carmen aris algosi.

 

1 The writer has found these books especially helpful

in this regard: Zellig S. Harris, Development of the

Canaanite Dialects, American Oriental Series, Vol. 16 (New

Haven, Connecticut: American Oriental Society, 1939

Sabatino Moscati, et al., An Introduction to the Comparative

Grammar of the Semitic Languages (Wiesbaden: Otto

Harrassowitz, 1999; and William Wright, Lectures on the

Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages (Amsterdam:

Philo Press, 1966).


 

 

 

CHAPTER II

 

 

PRELIMINARY INTERPRETATIVE CONSIDERATIONS

 

 

        Title

 

Exodus 15:1-18 has been referred to by a number of

different titles. Cross and Freedman have referred to this

as the "Song of Miriam."1 Others have referred to this as

the "Song of Moses,"2 "Song of the Sea,"3 and "Song of the

Reed Sea."4 These titles will be examined here.

 

Song of Miriam

 

Albright has also called Exodus 15:1-18 the "Song

of Miriam."5 Cross and Freed an have preferred this title

in order to maintain a distinction between Exodus 15 and

 

1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 237.

2 S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of

the Old Testament (new rev. ed. New York: Charles

Scribner's Sons, 1916), p. 12 .

3 Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of

Exodus, trans. by Israel Abra ams (Jerusalem: Magnes Press,

1974), p. 173.

4 Philip J. Hyatt, Exodus, in The New Century Bible,

ed. by Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black (Greenwood,

South Carolina: Attic Press, 1971), p. 162.'

5 W. F. Albright, "A Catalogue of Early Hebrew Lyric

Poems (Psalm LXVIII)," Hebrew Union College Annual, XXXIII:

Part 1 (1950-51), 5, n. 9.


13

the Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32.1 Another justification

is derived from the fact that the incipit or the first line

of a song would have often served as its title. One title

of the poem is preserved in verse 1 which would justify

labeling this as the Song of Moses, but verse 21 reflects

the title of the song taken from the superior tradition2

which would justify labeling his as the Song of Miriam.

Verses 1-18 have been viewed as an expansion of the sup-

posedly older or more predominant cycle of tradition in

verse 21, the Song of Miriam.3 There may be a need to make

a distinction between Exodus 15 and Deuteronomy 32, but to

refer to Exodus 15:1-18 as the Song of Miriam, in light of

Cross and Freedman's perspective, seems to be unacceptable

for a conservative interpreter. To be committed to this

perspective, it would almost appear necessary that one would

have to be committed to a traditio-historical hermeneutic.

 

Song of Moses

If it is true that the title of a song was derived

from the incipit, it would be appropriate to refer to verses

1-18 as the Song of Moses. This would also reflect the

author of the poem. This would not create any theological

 

1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 237.

2 Cross and Freedman have suggested that this is

possibly E, Ibid.

3 Ibid.


14

problems for a conservative. This, however, would not

assist in making a distinction between Exodus 15 and the

Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32.

 

Song of the Reed Sea

The titles Song of the Sea or Song of the Reed Sea

reflect the central theme of this event. In Exodus 14 the

word MyA was used sixteen times. It was also used in Exodus

15:19-21 five times. This word also appears four times in

verses 1-18. In this song MyA has a number of synonyms and

synonymous phrases: JUs-MyA, verse 4; tmohoT;, verses 5 and 8;

tloOcm;, verse 5; and Myima, verses 8 and 10. Muilenburg has,

made this observation:

The Song belongs, too, to the extensive literature

relating to the Sea in the Old Testament and in the

literatures of the other peoples of the ancient Near

East. That the motif is resigned to be of central

importance for the author is demonstrated by the imme-

diate framework in which it is enclosed.

 

It would not be spurious to use the title Song of the Sea

or Song of the Reed Sea for these reflect the subject matter

of Exodus 15:1-18. It would consequently appear that these

last two titles and the title Song of Moses would be legit-

imate to use. In order to avoid confusion with the Song of

Moses in Deuteronomy 32, Exodus 15:1-18 will be referred to

as the Song of the Reed Sea in this thesis.

 

1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

pp. 234-35.


15

Unity

The question of the unity of Exodus 15:1-18 has been

a problem for critical scholars. At the turn of the century,

Sievers contended that verses 1-13 were old and that verses

14-18 were added by a later writer.1 Watts has also ques-

tioned the unity of this passage with this statement: "The

very loose, even poor, poetic form makes one wonder what

happened to the verses."2 The critical scholars especially

concerned are those involved in tradition history. Fohrer's

laconic remark is definitive: "Traditio-historical study

not only inquires how the textual units achieved their

final form but also seeks to trace the entire process by

which the units-came into being."3

 

l Eduard Sievers, Studien zur hebraischen Metrik,

Vol. I, Metrische Studien (Leipzig: Bei B. G. Turner,

1901), p. 408.

2 John D. Watts, "The Song of the Sea--Ex. XV," Vetus

Testamentum, VII:4 (October, 1957), 377.

3 Ernst Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament,

revised and rewritten by George Fohrer, trans. by David E.

Green (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1968), p. 30; see also

the concise paperback on tradition history by Walter E.

Rast, Tradition History and the Old Testament, Old Testament

Series, ed. by J. Coert Rylaarsdam (Philadelphia: Fortress

Press, 1972); the other two terse volumes in this Old Test-

ament series were helpful in the writing of this thesis,

Norman C. Habel, Literary Criticism and the Old Testament

(Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971) and Gene M. Tucker,

Form Criticism and the Old Testament (Philadelphia:

Fortress Press, 1971); the editor has written the same

forward for all three books; his forward is extremely

helpful as far as providing a synthesis of literary

criticism, form criticism, and tradition history.


16

Coats has examined Exodus 15:1-18 by means of a

form critical and traditio-historical study. He has con-

tended in this study that the origin of Exodus 15:1-18 lies

in the Song of Miriam, verse 21.1 Coats has stated that it

was not certain that the Song of Miriam2 extended back to

the time of Moses, but his implication was that this was a

possibility.3 The Song of Miriam, therefore, is to be

regarded as the oldest form of the Song of the Reed Sea.4

Noth has indicated that the reason why verse 21 was regarded

by some critical scholars as the oldest formulation of the

Reed. Sea tradition is because of its brevity.5 Coats has

 

1 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 8.

2 In this thesis the Song of Miriam will be used in

reference to Ex. 15:21b.

3 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 8; it is inter-

esting to observe that Westermann has suggested that it is

probable that Ex. 15:21 originated at the historical time

of deliverance. He calls this "the oldest Psalm of Israel,"

Claus Westermann, The Praise of God in the Psalms, trans. by

Keith R. Crim (Richmond, Virginia: John Knox Press, 1965),

p. 89.

4 See Marc Rozellar, "The Song of the Sea," p. 226;

cf. also David M. G. Stalker, "Exodus," in Peake's Commen-

tary on the Bible, ed. by Matthew Black and H. H. Rowley

(New York: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1962), p. 222.

5 Noth, Exodus, p. 121; some critical scholars,

however, regard this as a spurious conclusion, see Frank

Moore Cross, Jr., "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"

Journal for Theology and the Church: God and Christ:

Existence and Province, V (1968), 11, n. 34; cf. also Albert

B. Lord, The Singer of Tales (Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Harvard University Press, 1960). One of the subjects that

Lord discusses is the use of formulas and formulaic expres-

sions in composing oral poetry. This author recognizes that

this approach has inherent problems for a conservative,


17

likewise set forth that the Song of Miriam is the earliest

form of the Song of the Sea. Verses 1-18 were a later

stage in the development of the Reed Sea tradition.1 Coats'

methodology may not be a facsimile of Noth's traditio-

historical approach, yet they both share an evolutionary

approach because this is an inherent part of the traditio-

historical interpretive methodology.

According to Coats verses 4-10 should be associated

with the Sea tradition. There is internal disunity in

verses 4-10. There appears to be a shift in image between

verses 4-5 and 6-10. The focus of verses 4-5 lies on the

destruction of the enemy by casting them into the Sea. This

suggests that a distinct tradition supposedly lies behind

verses 4-5. This distinct tradition was either an independ-

ent poem or the Song of Miriam.2 The focus of verses 6-10,

however, has changed to crossing the water on a path in the

Sea.3 This supposedly reflects the influence of the Jordan

tradition. but it may be used to reflect the problems involved in

assuming that brevity is synonymous with antiquity.

 

1 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 17.

2 Ibid.

3 Cf. Frank E. Eakin, Jr., "The Reed Sea and Baalism "

Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXVI:4 (December, 1967),

383; Eakin explains the change in image by suggesting that

Israel has used Baal mythology and has recast it in terms

of Yahweh's victory over Yam.

4 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 17.


18

Verses 12-17, according to Coats, should be associ-

ated with the Jordan tradition. Verses 12-13; are a transi-

tion from Sea to Conquest. Verse 12 has a brief allusion to

the event at the sea while verse 13 is the only allusion to

Yahweh's leadership in the wilderness.1 Verses 14-17 allude

to the fear of the Canaanites. This is a reference to the

conquest theme.2 Therefore, when Coats concludes that the

Song of the Reed Sea is a basic unit, he is concluding "that

the Song of the Sea constitutes a basic whole, a form-

critical and traditio-historical unit."3

To draw this conclusion based upon this methodology

is certainly untenable for a conservative interpreter. The

subjective nature of Coats' approach is obvious. To accept

his thesis, one has to accept that the Song of Miriam is

older than the Song of the Reed Sea and that it, also, lies

behind verses 4-5.4 The subjective element in this method-

ology is demonstrated by the wide disagreement among crit-

ical scholars about the traditio-historical development of

 

1 George W. Coats, "The Traditio-Historical Character

of the Reed Sea Motif," Vetus Testamentum, XVII:3 (July,

1967), 263.

2 Ibid.

3 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 17.

4 Cf. Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam,"

p. 237; they have not accepted this assumption.


                                                                                                            19

the Reed Sea tradition.1  Hay’s remarks reflect this dilemma:                

 

The widely divergent solutions offered for the literary

puzzle, each supported by plausible but unconvincing

arguments, leave us no certainty about the literary

structure except in regards to a single conclusion: the

story as it now stands is a composite of several tradi-

tions which, having been brought together, fail to

present a clear picture of a comprehensible event.

Whether by their own arguments to that end, or uninten-

tionally by their failure to provide a credible solution,

the critics have placed this fact beyond doubt.2

 

The presupposed evolutionary aspects of tradition

history are also detrimental for this approach. Noth, also,

has reasoned that the Song of Miriam lies behind the Song

of the Reed Sea. This assumption is based on the conclusion

that brevity reflects antiquity.3 Albright has demonstrated

the fallacy of this rational.4 The truth is that ancient

Oriental literature may have a variety of lengths. There

 

1 This disagreement is readily noticeable by comparing

Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth"; Eakin, "The

Reed Sea and Baalism"; Brevard S. Childs, "A Traditio-

Historical Study of the Reed Sea Tradition," Vetus

Testamentum, XX:4 (October, 19 0), 406-18; Coats, "The

Traditio-Historical Character of the Reed Sea Motif"; and

Coats, "The Song of the Sea."

2 Lewis S. Hay, "What Really Happened at the Sea of

Reeds?" Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXIII:4 (December,

1964), 399; Hay after recognizing this dilemma with the

Song of the Reed Sea seeks to solve the problem by an

encounter in which Israel defeated the army of Pharaoh. The

same criticism that he has applied to others also applies to

his thesis, it is “supported by plausible but unconvincing

arguments.”

3 Noth, Exodus, p. 121.

4 W. F. Albright, "Some Oriental Glosses on the

Homeric Problem," American Journal of Archaeology, 54 (1950)


                                                                                                            20

are nine Sumerian epic tales from about 1800 B.C. which vary

in length from approximately one hundred to six hundred

lines.1 The Egyptian story of Sinuhe, which dates about

1900 B.C.,2 is slightly longer than the Tale of the Two

Brothers3 and the Contendings of Horus and Seth.4 Both are

preserved in versions dating about the thirteenth century

B.C. Kitchen makes this interesting observation about these

Egyptian stories: "These exhibit a constancy of average

length over six centuries (alongside shorter and longer

pieces, both 'late' and 'early'), and they did not grow by

gradual accretion."5 As far as the interpretive method-

ologies used by critical scholars in connection with the

unity of the Song of the Reed Sea are concerned, one could

almost conclude that "every man did that which was right in

his own eyes."

This thesis is based upon the a priori assumption

that the Scriptures are the Word of God, as they claim to

 

1 Samuel Noah Kramer, "Sumerian Literature, A General

Survey," in The Bible and the Ancient Near East, ed. by G.

Ernest Wright (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co.,

1961), p. 255; see also James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient

Near Eastern Texts (hereinafter referred to as ANET)(2nd,

ed.; Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press,

1955), pp. 37-39.

2 Ibid., pp. 18-22.

3 Ibid., pp. 23-25.

4 Ibid., pp. 14-17.

5 K. A. Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament

(Chicago: Inter-Varsity Press, 1966), pp. 131-32.

 


21

be, and hence the unity of Exodus 15 would be the logical

result of this assumption. The strophic structure of this

poem also demonstrates the unity in Exodus 15:1-18. This

will be examined in chapter 3. The poetical pericope of

Exodus 15 was composed by Moses after the great deliverance

of Yahweh. He and the children of Israel sang the song

which is recorded in verses 1-18. Verse 21, which is a

repetition of verse 1, possibly functioned as an anti-

strophe.1 Moses subsequently recorded this song which has

been preserved in the Scriptures. It is this piece of

poetry which is regarded as a basic unit in this thesis.

 

Authorship

The subject of authorship is usually regarded as a

subject in the field of literary criticism. Literary critics

have been divided about the authorship of Exodus 15:1-18.

Driver has assigned verses 1-18 to the Elohistic writer who

took this from a collection of national hymns.2 Some have

questioned the validity of assigning the work of Exodus

15:1-18 to the literary sources JEDP.3 Albright has

 

1 John J. Davis, Moses and the God's of Egypt:

Studies in the Book of Exodus (Grand Rapids: Baker Book

House, 1971), p. 173-

2 S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of

the Old Testament, p. 30.

3 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 234, n. 2.


22

reflected this with the following statement:

 

The Wellhausen structure, which divided the Pentateuch

into a number of different documents and even attempted

to split single verses among three or more different

sources, has proved to be an exaggerated system against

which many protests have been leveled.1

 

The knowledge of Egyptian, Assyrian, and especially Ugaritic

literature has revamped the critic's understanding of Old

Testament literature in general and Exodus 15:1-18 in par-

ticular. The result is that many critical scholars have

abandoned this artificial hermeneutic.

Some contemporary critical scholars have assigned

Exodus 15:1-18 to either the Yahwist or Elohistic tradi-

tions.2 Cross has assigned this "to the Yahwist no later

than the early tenth century, and is more easily explained

as belonging to common traditions in the shrines of the

league."3 Cross' conclusions have been drawn from his

traditio-historical study of this poem.4  A commitment to

this methodology is quite unacceptable for a conservative

interpreter.

Westermann has indicated that the Song of Miriam was

 

1 William F. Albright, Archaeology, Historical

Analogy, and Early Biblical Tradition (Baton Rouge:

Louisiana State University, 1966), p. 16.

            2 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 234, n. 2.

3 Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"

p. 11.

4 Ibid.


23

uttered as a declarative praise to God immediately after God

delivered them.1 It would appear that if one has made this

concession and if one has interacted with the literature of

the ancient Near East, the conclusion could then be drawn

that it is possible that Moses wrote this song or at least

that it was compiled in the general time span of Moses'

life. The point is, even for the critical scholar the

Mosaic authorship of the Song of the Reed Sea should be

within the realm of possibility.

There appears to be a number of reasons for accept-

ing the Mosaic authorship of the Song of the Reed Sea.

Exodus 15:1 indicates that Moses took the lead in singing

this song. This also indicates that Moses was responsible

for the composition of this song.

Further verification comes from Moses' development

of the theme "covenant-faithfulness." The noun ds,H, is used

twenty-one times in the Pentateuch. Moses used this noun

in Exodus 15:13, "You have guided with your covenant-

faithfulness (ds,H,) the people whom You have redeemed." God

had made a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. The ele-

ments of this covenant included a posterity who would belong

to Yahweh and the land of Canaan. In Exodus 15:13, 16 this

posterity was called Yahweh's people for He had purchased

 

1 Westermann, The Praise of God in the Psalms, pp.

83-88; Westermann has used the title "Song of Miriam" to

refer to verse 21b of Exodus 15.

 


24

Israel. In verses 13 and 17 Israel expected to enter the

land of Canaan. In Exodus 15:13 Moses affirmed that God

had been faithful to His covenant.1 The usage of this theme

in Exodus 15:13 is consistent with the other usages of ds,H,

in the Pentateuch.

Moses has developed two other motifs2 or themes

which confirm his authorship of the Song of the Reed Sea.

The first theme relates to Yahweh's description as a warrior

in verse 3. This was not a novel theme for it had been

introduced in the religions of the ancient Near East in

reference to other deities and it may have been inherent in

some of the patriarchal traditions. If there was any novelty,

it would have been that it was on the "international" level.3

In Deuteronomy 1:30 God fought for Israel just as He had

done at the Reed Sea. The motif of war is a central thought

in Deuteronomy 7. Deuteronomy 7:18 is a reference to the

Exodus. Deuteronomy 33:2-5, 26-29 relates to war and the

 

1 See Stephen R. Schrader, "Hesed in the Ancient

Near Eastern Milieu" (unpublished Th. M. thesis, Grace

Theological Seminary, 1974); cf. also Nelson Glueck, Hesed

in the Bible, trans. by Alfred Gottschalk (Cincinnati:

Hebrew Union College Press, 1967); and Norman H. Snaith,

Distinctive Ideas of the Old Testament (New York: Schocken

Books, 1969), pp. 94-130.

2 ”Motif” is used in this thesis to refer to the

theme or content and not to external form.

3 Peter C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, in The

New International Commentary on the Old Testament, ed. by

R. K. Harrison (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publish-

ing Company, 1976), p. 64.

 


25

need to depend upon Yahweh for victory.1

The second theme is the conception of Yahweh as

king in verse 18. This motif is found in other literature

from the ancient Near East. It is not novel in the Old

Testament. The novelty is derived from "the setting and

broader horizons of the conception."2 Yahweh, a victorious

warrior, was very appropriately acclaimed king. The acknow-

ledgment of Yahweh as king is a theme in the book of Exodus.

This concept should be coalesced with the usage of fdayA in

Exodus. In Exodus fdayA often has the nuance of acknowledging

Yahweh's sovereignty. In Exodus 5:2 Pharaoh stated that he

did not know, fdayA, Yahweh. Pharaoh did not recognize the

sovereignty of Yahweh. Yahweh used His plagues to demon-

strate to Pharaoh that Yahweh was Lord of all and not Pharaoh.

This concept of fdayA is stated in Exodus 8:10, 22, 9:14, and

9:29. In Exodus 9:29 Moses told Pharaoh that he would stretch

out his hands to stop the plague of hail so that Pharaoh

would know (fdayA) that the earth belonged to Yahweh.

Yahweh also wanted the Egyptians to know that He

was sovereign. This is demonstrated in Exodus 7:5. In

Exodus 14:4, 18 Yahweh stated that He would use the drowning

of Pharaoh's army so that Egypt would know (fdayA) that

Israel's God was hvhy. God wanted Israel to recognize His

sovereignty, Exodus 6:7, 10:2, and 11:7. The deliverance

 

1 Ibid., p. 65.

2 Ibid., p. 64.


26

from the Egyptians is used approximately one hundred times

in the Old Testament. The purpose of this event was for

Israel to recognize (i.e. fdayA) the sovereignty of Yahweh,

Exodus 16:6.1 The acknowledgment of Yahweh as king in

Exodus 15:18 is a grand climax to the God who has demon-

strated His absolute sovereignty over the Egyptians and

their gods.

This theme is also mentioned in Deuteronomy 33:5.

The whole book of Deuteronomy was written in the form of the

Near Eastern covenant treaties of the second millennium B.C.

This is significant for Yahweh, the king, made a covenant

with His vassal, Israel. Deuteronomy presupposes that

Yahweh was recognized as King.2 Since the motifs developed

in Exodus 15 are also developed in the whole book of Exodus

and Deuteronomy, this would tend to verify that Moses was

responsible for the composition of the Song of the Reed Sea.

 

Date

      Late Date

The subject of the date for the Song of the Reed Sea

has not gone without debate in this century. One of the

 

1 Stephen R. Schrader, "Exodus to Deuteronomy,"

(unpublished lecture notes, Temple Baptist Theological

Seminary, 1979); see also Hebert B. Huffmon, "The Treaty

Background of Hebrew Yada’," Bulletin of the American

Schools of Oriental Research, 181 (February, 1966), 31-37.

2 Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, p. 65.

 


27

latest dates suggested was 350 B.C. which was defended by

Haupt.1 Bender dated it in 450 B.C.2 Pfeiffer has placed

it in the second half of the fifth century B.C.3 Noth has

more recently stated that this is a relatively late piece

which was inserted secondarily into its context.4  Fohrer

has placed it in the late preexilic period.5 Three reasons

have been suggested for these late dates. Verses 13-18 have

presumably presupposed the conquest of the land of Canaan.6

Another argument for a late date was the supposed anach-

ronistic reference to the Philistines in verse 14. It has

finally been proposed that verse 17 presupposes the building

of the Solomonic Temple.7

 

1 Paul Haupt, "Moses' Song of Triumph," The American

Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, 20 (April,

1904), 153-54.

2 A. Bender, "Das Lied Exodus 15," Zeitschrift fur

die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 23 (1903), 47.

3 Robert H. Pfeiffer, Introduction to the Old

Testament (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1948),

p. 281.

4 Noth, Exodus, p. 123; Noth has indicated that the

Song of the Reed Sea is an expansion of verse 21 and that

it essentially has no role in the sources; Coats has agreed

with Noth's conclusions in "The Song of the Sea," pp. 4-5.

5 Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 189.

6 Philip J. Hyatt, "Yahweh as 'the God of My

Father,'" Vetus Testamentum, V:2 (April, 1955), 13

7 Cf. Mowinckel's argument against an early date, see

Sigmund Mowinckel, "Psalm Criticism between 1900 and 1935

(Ugarit and Psalm Exegesis)," Vetus Testamentum, V:1

(January, 1955), 13-33.


28

Earlier Date

The Song of the Reed Sea has been dated in the tenth

century B.C. by Sellin1 and Driver.2 Cross and Freedman

have also argued for an early date.  They have affirmed that

the song was written in the tenth century B.C. and as early

as the twelfth century in its original form.3  Robertson has

placed the date of this song in the twelfth century B.C.4

Albright has gone so far as to date it in the early thir-

teenth century B.C.5 Most of the scholars who would adhere

to a date between the tenth and thirteenth centuries B.C.

have also defended the essential unity of Exodus 15:1-18.

Most of these scholars maintain this early date because of

the archaic language of this song. A great influence on

these scholars has been the study of Ugaritic for it has

provided an early language which is cognate with Hebrew and

it has provided an early corpus of literature which is

 

1 Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 189.

2 S. R. Driver, The Book of Exodus, in The Cambridge

Bible for Schools and Colleges, ed. by A. F. Kirkpatrick

(Cambridge: University Press, 1918), p. 130.

3 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 240.

4 David A. Robertson, Linguistic Evidence in Dating

Early Hebrew Poetry (hereinafter referred to as Linguistic

Evidence), Dissertation Series, no. 3 (Missoula, Montana:

Society of Biblical Literature, 1972), p. 155.

5 W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan

(Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1968), p. 10.


29

characterized by parallelism.1

 

Conservative Date

The conservative date is established by the evidence

of Scripture. Of a definitive nature on this subject is

1 Kings 6:1. According to this passage the exodus from

Egypt happened 480 years prior to the fourth year of

Solomon's reign which is generally regarded as 966 B.C.2

The children of Israel, therefore, left Egypt in 1446 B.C.

Exodus 15:1 indicates that the Song of the Reed Sea was

composed after the crossing of the Reed Sea. This was

shortly after their departure from Egypt.

 

        Philological Arguments for a Conservative Date

 

Very often faith in the God of the Bible is viewed

as a faith of ignorance. The faith of ignorance relegates

the aspects of a grammatical and historical hermeneutic to a

superficial acquaintance. However, since the Bible is the

Word of God, it will be confirmed by true history and

grammar. The conservative interpreter should therefore be

 

1 David Noel Freedman, "Divine Names and Titles in

Early Hebrew Poetry," in Magnalia Dei: The Mighty Acts of

God, ed. by Frank Moore Cross, Werner Lemke, and Patrick D.

Miller, Jr. (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co.,

1976), p. 55.

2 See Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the

Hebrew Kings (rev. ed.; Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans

Publishing Company, 1951).

 


30

a diligent student of all the aspects of grammar and history

which can elucidate a given passage of Scripture. The

confirmation of this early date for the writing of Exodus

15 is corroborated primarily by philological arguments.

Although Childs does not agree with a date as early as Cross

and Freedman have suggested, nevertheless he does recognize

the importance of their philological arguments. His remarks

are germane: "Of the various arguments brought forth, the

philological arguments carry the most weight."1

           

The preterite

A possible philological argument for a conservative

date pertains to the usage of the preterite in Exodus 15:1-

18. The preterite in form is an imperfect, however it

functions as a preterite.2 Battenfield has succinctly

 

1 Brevard S. Childs, The Book of Exodus: A Critical

Theological Commentary (hereinafter referred to as The Book

of Exodus) (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1974),

pp. 245-46.

2 The preterite is often found with waw. The El

Amarna letters suggest that the preterite appeared without

waw. This suggests that Hebrew poetry reflects an older

usage than the prose; see G. Douglas Young, "The Language

of the Old Testament," in vol. I of The Expositor's Bible

Commentary, ed. by Frank E. Gaebelein, et al. (Grand Rapids:

Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), pp. 203-4; see also J.

Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (2nd

ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1959), pp. 252-53; and F. C.

Fensham, "The Use of the Suffix Conjugation and the Prefix

Conjugation in a Few Old Hebrew Poems," Journal of Northwest

Semitic Languages, VI (1978), 9-18; cf. also William Sanford

LaSor, "Further Information about Tell Mardikh," The Journal

of the Evangelical Theological Society, 19:4 (Fall, 1976),


31

summarized the usage of the preterite, "The point is, an

imperfect, when indicating a preterite aspect'' is translated

as a 'past,' in poetry by the context only and in prose

following ‘az."1 In order to use legitimately the argument

that the usage of the preterite is evidence of archaic

Hebrew poetry, it is first necessary to demonstrate that the

perfect and imperfect aspects are predominantly used to

narrate past events.2 The context of Exodus 15 is a lucid

reference to the recent victory of Yahweh over the Egyptian

army at the Reed Sea. As would be expected, the perfect

aspect is used quite often. It needs to be demonstrated that

the imperfect aspects function in a parallel sense to the

perfect aspect. Two examples are found in verse 5,  Umyus;kay;,

and in verse 12, OmfelAb;Ti. In verse 5 Umyus;kay; obviously does

not refer to a frequent happening for "the deeps" only

covered the Egyptian army once. Also Umyus;kay; is parallel

with Udr;yA. Although OmfelAb;Ti morphologically is in the imper-

fect aspect, it obviously is not referring to frequentative

action for the earth swallowed them at the time of the death

 

270; LaSor has indicated, that there was a preterite at

Ebla; "the preterite forms ik-tub and ik-su11-ud are

similar to Akkadian iprus and Hebrew yiqtol"; if this has

been correctly identified this would support the theory that

there was an original yqtl preterite in West Semitic.

1 James R. Battenfield, "Advanced Hebrew Grammar,"

(unpublished lecture notes, Grace Theological Seminary,

1977)

2 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, p. 27.


32

of the Egyptian army. It should also be observed that

OmfelAb;Ti is in a parallel relation with tAyFnA.  In verses 14-

16 a succession of verbal forms are used: perfect-imperfect-

perfect-perfect-imperfect-perfect-imperfect-imperfect. It

is therefore clear that there is a parallel relationship

between the perfect and imperfect aspects of the verbs in

these verses and that these verbs do not describe action

which is qualitatively different. The comments of Robertson

aver this:

If the suff1 and pref forms describe qualitatively

different types of action or states, the poet went from

one to another in a bewildering fashion. It is easier

to take all the verbs as syntactically equivalent.2

 

This distribution between the perfect and imperfect aspects

of the various verbs also has occurred in Ugaritic poems.

In the Ugaritic poem Anat I an example of this is found in

lines 4-9.

qm yt’r                       He arose, he served

w yslhmnh                  and he ate

ybrd td lpnwh            he extended a breast before him

bhrb mlht                   with a sharp sword

qs mr’i ndd                a slice of fatling, he went

y’sr wysqynh             he served drinks and he gave him to

drink.3

 

This pattern in Ugaritic reflects its antiquity. It would

 

1 This is how Robertson refers to the perfect aspect;

he also refers to the imperfect aspect as the prefix;

Ibid., pp. 8-9.

2 Ibid., p. 30.

3 Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (hereinafter

referred to as UT), Analecta Orientalia, 38 (Rome:

Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965), p. 253.


33

appear that the perfect and imperfect aspects of the verbs

are equivalent syntactically. Exodus 15 has this same

distribution and it indicates that the imperfect aspect

functioned as a preterite. This reflects the antiquity of

the poem.

 

The preservation of a y/v in a final y/v verb when it opens

a syllable

Another philological argument for an early date of

Exodus 15 is the preservation of a yod or waw when it opens

a syllable. There are a number of examples of this found in

Ugaritic literature. Text 125:24 reads wy’ny krt, "and

Keret answers";1 Anat 1:9 wysqynh, "and he gave him to

drink";2 and Keret 1:26 ybky, "he cried."3 In Hebrew the

y/v was not usually preserved. There are some examples of

this, however, in early Hebrew where the final y was pre-

served. An example of this is found in Exodus 15:5 Umyus;kay;.

Another example is found in Numbers 24:6 vyFAni.  This does

not mean that if a standard form appears in the same poem

that this is not genuine archaic Hebrew poetry. An example

of this is Deuteronomy 32 for verse 37 preserves the form

vysAHA and verse 3 preserves the form UbhA.

Certain words probably had a tendency to preserve

the archaic orthography. A reason for this tendency is that

 

1 Ibid., p. 192.           

2 Ibid., p. 253.

3 Ibid., p. 250.


34

a syllable closing y or v would have formed a diphthong,

but the vowel following would have had a tendency to pre-

serve y/v.1 With the loss of the final short vowel, y/v

would have closed the syllable and would have eventually

been lost. When yod or waw was in the intervocalic position

even though it remained syllable opening, they were eventu-

ally lost through elision. This apparently was the case in

verb forms with afformatives beginning with a vowel. Such

would be the case with the third feminine singular and third

common plural of the imperfect aspect.2 Thus, it would not

be out of place to discover the usage of archaic forms in

early Hebrew poetry as is the case in Exodus 15:5, in fact

it verifies that this is genuine archaic Hebrew poetry.

 

The archaic relative pronoun

A conservative date is further corroborated by the

use of the archaic relative pronoun. In Ugaritic the rel-

ative pronoun was d and dt. An important concern which is

derived from the usage of the relative pronoun in Exodus 15

is the usage of d. This relative pronoun appears to be

inflected according to number, gender, and case but at the

same time it appears as if this relative pronoun was treated

 

1 There are a number of passages where the yod and

waw are preserved: Numbers 24:6, Deuteronomy 32:37, Psalms

36:1, 9, 57:2, 77:4, 78:44, 122:6, Job 12:6, 19:2, 31:8, and

Proverbs 26:7.

2 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, pp. 58-59.


35

indeclinably.1 This relative pronoun can be traced to the

Proto-Semitic relative pronoun d. The Ugaritic relative

pronoun is cognate with the Arabic relative pronoun, the

nominative is      , du, the genitive is     , di, and the accu-

sative is      da. The Proto-Semitic d became yDi in Aramaic

and Uz in Hebrew. The relative pronoun Uz is used twice in

verses 13 and 16 of Exodus 15. This once again reflects the

archaic nature of Exodus 15:1-18.

 

The nun energicum

The appearance of the archaic pronominal suffix Uhn;-,

supplies further support for a conservative date of Exodus

15. This suffix is found in Exodus 15:2 on Uhn;m,m;roxE. The

generally used third masculine singular pronominal suffix is

Uh-e or Un.-,. The latter, nun energicum, is a vestige of its

predcessor Uhn;-,. The implication is that this archaic form

would have a tendency to appear in genuine archaic poetry.2

If this is true, it should be possible to confirm this hypo-

thesis from Ugaritic. In Ugaritic there are four different

forms of the third masculine singular pronominal suffix: -h,

-nh, -nn, -n.3 The two forms of this -nn and -nh are ger-

mane to this discussion. There are a number of examples of

 

1 Gordon, UT, p. 39, par. 6.23.

2 The exception to this would be if this was an

example of archaizing in a latter poem.

3 Gordon, UT, pp. 37-38, par. 6.16.


36

the former. Text 127:26 reflects this by the usage of

wywsrnn, "and (it/) they instruct(s) him";1 1 Aqht 59,

tstnn, "she set him";2 76:1:12, yhnnn, "he shows him favor"3

and 151, tshtnn, "they caused him to wake up."4 There are a

number of examples of the latter: ‘Ant 1:5, yslhmnh, "he

feeds him"5 and 1:9, wysqynh, "and he gave him to drink."6

Consequently, this demonstrates the antiquity of the nun

energicum and hence this is further confirmation of the

archaic nature of the Song of the Reed Sea.

 

The pronominal suffix Om

Another suffix which is characteristic of early

Hebrew poetry is the third masculine plural7 pronominal

suffix Om. This suffix is used nine times in Exodus 15:1-

18. This consistent usage has caused various reactions

among scholars. Some have explained this as conscious and

artificial archaizing.8 Cross and Freedman have however

indicated that the consistent usage of this suffix is

 

1 Ibid., p. 38, par. 6.17.

2 Ibid.                                      3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.                                      5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Hereinafter referred to as 3mp; also other such

references will be abbreviated in the same manner.

8 E. Kautzsch, ed., Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, rev. by

A. E. Cowley (2nd English ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press,

1970), p. 258.


37

indicative of the genuine antiquity of Exodus 15.1 There

are two reasons for this latter position. First, archaizing

is usually characterized by the misuse or mixed usage of

archaic forms. This, however, is not the case in Exodus

15:1-18. The second proof of this is a rebuttal to the argu-

ment that this suffix only occurs with verbs.2 This kind of

argument overlooks the fact that there are no examples in

Exodus 15 of a noun with a 3mp suffix affixed to it.3 The

presence of Om, therefore, in Exodus 15 does not warrant the

conclusion that Exodus 15 is an example of archaizing.

 

The enclitic mem

The last confirmation of a conservative date for the

Song of the Reed Sea is the usage of the enclitic mem.

Ugarit and the Amarna letters have made clear the existence

of the enclitic mem.4 The usage of the enclitic mem is

still enigmatic for scholars are not certain whether its

absence or presence causes any difference.5 Hummel has

 

1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 245,

par. 10; see also David Noel Freedman, "Archaic Forms in

Early Hebrew Poetry," Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche

Wissenschaft, 72:2 (June, 1960), 105.

2 See Kautzsch, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, p. 258.

3 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 245,

par. 10.

4 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, p. 80.

5 James Barr, Comparative Philology and the Text of

the Old Testament (hereinafter referred to as Comparative

Philology) (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), p. 31.


38

added seventy-six examples to an already established list of

thirty-one examples in Hebrew.1 Since many of the examples

were not recognized by the Masoretes, the interpretation of

the data has not been without problems.2 In Exodus 15 these

problems are not of consequence for the enclitic mem is pre-

fixed to the preposition K;. Since the Amarna letters and

Ugaritic literature attest to the usage of enclitic mem, the

antiquity of it is well established. If it can be estab-

lished that it was present in early Hebrew and that it was

used more frequently in early Hebrew poetry than in standard

Hebrew poetry, this could be used as further confirmation of

an early date. There are fifty-two examples of the usage of

OmK; in poetry and two of these are found in Exodus 15:5, 8.

It has been established that the majority of these examples

occur in early Hebrew poetry.3 This does not establish

solid proof for an early date, but it does verify that it

was used regularly in early Hebrew poetry.

When these arguments are viewed collectively, they

provide strong support for a conservative date. The point

to be made is that Mosaic authorship and hence a late fif-

teenth century B.C. date is not refuted by the philological

 

1 H. D. Hummel, "Enclitic Mem in Early Northwest

Semitic," Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXVI:2 (June,

1957), 85-107.

2 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, pp. 77-110.

3 Ibid., p. 108.


39

arguments, rather it is supported by them in that these

philological considerations are characteristic of Northwest

Semitic languages in that general time period.


 

 

 

CHAPTER III

 

 

 CRITICAL INTERPRETATIVE CONSIDERATIONS

 

 

    Genre

 

The study of literary types or Gattungen is a means

of determining, for the form critic, insights into the

beliefs of a people. This methodology is based upon the

assumption that prior to written literature there was an

oral tradition.1 Gunkel had indicated that the narratives

of Genesis were communicated orally by means of sagas.2

The work of Gunkel is the foundation for the investigation

of Gattungen.3 Gunkel's methodology was demonstrated in his

extensive research in Genesis and Psalms. The disciples of

Gunkel used his approach for other portions of Scripture.4

 

1 Herbert F. Hahn, The Old Testament in Modern

Research (with a Survey of Recent Literature) (hereinafter

referred to as Old Testament in Modern Research) (expanded

ed.; Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1966), p. 119.

2 Hermann Gunkel, The Legends of Genesis, Mans. by

W. H. Carruth with an Introduction by William F. Albright

(New York: Schocken Books, 1964), p. 4.

3 See Gunkel, What Remains of the Old Testament and

Other Essays, trans. by A. K. Dallas (New York: Macmillan

Company, 1928), pp. 57-114; Gunkel also discusses the

literary types on pages 69-114.

4 A. R. Johnson, "The Psalms," in The Old Testament

and Modern Study, ed. by H. H. Rowley (n.p.: Clarendon

Press, 1951; reprint ed.: London: Oxford University Press,

1956), p. 162, n. 3.

 

40


                                                            41

For example Hugo Gressman examined the genre of the histor-

ical writings outside the Hexateuch.1

            The usage of the literary genre by the form critic

has made some valuable contributions for the exegesis of the

Old Testament. One of these contributions is that form

criticism has demonstrated the artificial nature of the doc-

umentary hypothesis.2 Another contribution is the classifi-

cation of Formgeschichte by literary types. This has been

enhanced by the investigation of literary types in the

larger background of other literature of the ancient Near

East. This has given the conservative interpreter a much

greater understanding of the Old Testament, especially the

poetical sections.3 Exodus 15:1-18 will presently be exam-

ined in light of the various literary types which have been

used to describe this song.

 

                        The Gattungen Is a Hymn

            The Song of the Reed Sea has been examined in refer-

ence to its literary type. Inspite of the great attention

 

            1 Hahn, The Old Testament in Modern Research, p. 130.

            2 Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament

Introduction (rev. ed.; Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), p. 96;

see J. Coert Rylaarsdam's foreword to Literary Criticism of

the Old Testament by Norman C. Habel.

            3 R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament

(Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,

1969), pp. 36-37.

 


                                                                                                            42

it has received, there still remains no consensus of agree-

ment among form critical scholars about the genre of Exodus

15:1-18. Fohrer has maintained that this song is a hymn.1

His conclusions are based upon his classifications of the

literary types in the poetry of ancient Israel.2 Fohrer has

defined a hymn as "a song praising the greatness and majesty

of Yahweh in his creation and governance of the destiny of

men and nations."3 There are hymnic elements in the Song of

the Reed Sea. The perorations in verses 6 and 11 are an

example of the poem's hymnic elements. Watts4 and Rozellar5

have also classified Exodus 15 as a hymn.

 

            The Gattungen Is a Hymn of Thanksgiving

 

            Martin Noth primarily views the Song of the Reed Sea

as a hymn with elements of a thanksgiving song incorporated

into it.6 One of the aspects of a thanksgiving hymn is that

the body of the hymn is made up of a narrative interwoven

with elements of confession and confidence.7 In the Psalms

this need is expressed either through the sin of the

 

            1 Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament, p.     188.

            2 Ibid., pp. 260-72.   

            3 Ibid., p. 263.           

            4 Watts, "The Song of the Sea--Ex. XV," p. 380.   

            5 Rozellar, "The Song of the Sea," p. 227.  

            6 Noth, Exodus, p. 123.       

            7 Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 269.

 


                                                                                                            43

individual or through the enemies' wickedness from which the

individual is then freed.1 This latter need appears to be

represented in this song. It must be pointed out however

that even Noth has recognized that it is not primarily a

thanksgiving song.2

 

     The Gattungen Is a Hymn of Divine Enthronement

            Mowinckel has indicated that this is a hymn of the

divine enthronement.3 According to Mowinckel's classifi-

cation of psalms, an enthronement psalm is one where Yahweh

is saluted as king. Often in the introduction the charac-

teristic phrase j`lamA hvhy, appears. This phrase does not

appear in the introduction of the Song of the Reed Sea, but

hvhy does appear with the imperfect aspect of j`lamA in verse

18. This psalm was supposedly connected with the harvest

and new year festival. The poet had experienced a vicarious

vision in which Yahweh had done some great deeds, such as

 

            1 Ibid., cf. also J. Hempel, "The Book of Psalms,"

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by George

Arthur Buttrick (4 vols.: New York: Abingdon Press, 1962),

III , 949-50.

            2 Noth, Exodus, p . 123.

            3 Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship, I, 126.

            4 Ibid., p. 107; it should be observed that the

interpretation of Mowinckel of j`lamA hvhy, is very speculative;

this phrase would be better understood as "the Lord is king"

or "the Lord reigns," instead of "the Lord has become king,"

Otto Eissfeldt, "Jahwe als Konig," Zeitschrift fur die

Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 4.6 (1928), pp. 84-88; John

Gray disagrees with Eissfeldt's criticism, John Gray, "The

Kingship of God in the Prophets and Psalms," Vetus

Testamentum, XI:1 (January, 1961), 1-29.

 


                                                                                                            44

defeating Pharaoh and his army. He has also conquered their

gods, Exodus 15:11. Yahweh then took the throne. The Reed

Sea becomes the primeval sea and Egypt becomes Rahab, the

primeval dragon.1 Mowinckel was not referring to a partic-

ular historical event but rather to a mythical event which

was real to the poet. Since the events of each are associ-

ated with the creation of the world and the exodus from

Egypt, the people have a basic knowledge of the events to

which the poet refers. As Mowinckel has stated:

 

            They take it for granted that the series of events

            referred to is well known beforehand to those who are

            to hear or sing the psalm; they refer to a (mythical)

            conception which they share with a larger group. The

            enthronement of Yahweh must to them have been an event

            which could be both presented and alluded to, because

            the group knew that it had now taken place.

 

                        The Gattungen Is a Litany

 

            Muilenburg regards this as a liturgy or litany.3 A

litany is a sentence followed by a response.4  Fohrer has

indicated that a liturgy "results from the linking of sev-

eral literary types to form a larger composition."5 A hymn

is a general classification of a literary type which may

 

            1 Ibid., pp. 106-8.                  2 Ibid., p. 112.

            3 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

pp. 236-37.

            4 J. D. A. Clines, "Psalm Research since 1955: I.

The Psalms and the Cult," Tyndale Bulletin, 18 (1967), 107.

            5 Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 270.

 


                                                                                                            45

include aspects of other literary types. Likewise the term

liturgy is a broad term which may contain a number of

Gattungen. Muilenburg has further indicated that this psalm

was composed for liturgical purposes in the cult. It was

supposedly used for the celebration at the autumnal festi-

val.1 Muilenburg has several reasons for this being a lit-

urgy. This song has a specific beginning and ending.

Although they are separate, they still stand in relation to

each other. The primary divisions are of the same approx-

imate length and they are permeated by hymnic refrains in

strategic places, such as verses 6, 11, and 16. These pri-

mary divisions are divided into strophes. Key words are

found in key positions in order to help the poem make pro-

gress. The images are also found in climatic contexts.

Similar cola will be repeated in the same literary context,

such as verse 5, Umyus;kay; tmohoT;, and verse 10,  MyA Oms.AKi. A

very important factor is the alternation between confes-

sional speech of praise and the narrative concerning the

enemy.2

 

            1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 236.

            2 Ibid., p . 237.

 


46

    The Gattungen Is a Hymn of Victory

 

The genre of this psalm has been regarded as one of

victory by Cross and Freedman1 and also Cassuto.2 Kitchen

also regards this as a song of triumph.3 Kitchen advocates

this view because of the external background. This is the

Hebrew counterpart to the Egyptian hymns of triumph by

Tuthmosis III, Amenophis III, Ramesses II, and Merenptah.4

This also supposedly fits the context.5 It also fits the

historical background.6

 

An Evaluation of these Studies of the

    Gattungen of Exodus 15:1-18

 

It would appear that the preceding analysis of the

various literary types leaves one with no consensus on this

subject. One of the basic problems with most of these

views is that most scholars regard the genesis of Exodus

15:1-18 as the cult. This separates the Song of the Reed

Sea from the historical context of Exodus 14-15. Mowinckel,

who has interpreted this song as an enthronement psalm, has

based his arguments upon his speculations about Israel's

 

1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 237.

2 Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus,

p. 173.

3 Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, p. 133,

n. 89.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

 

 


47

New Year Festival. He has drawn some of his conclusions

about Israel's New Year Festival from the Babylonian New

Year Festival.1 By doing this Mowinckel has divorced this

song from its immediate context in Scripture.

This song appears to be a concatenation of many

literary types. The song apparently does have hymnic ele-

ments. It appears to have the characteristics of a thanks-

giving song. It does have liturgical elements. Finally, it

does have the characteristics of a hymn of triumph. If

Fohrer's statement is accurate that a liturgy "results from

the linking of several types to form a larger composition,"2

the liturgical genre may tentatively be preferred.

Muilenburg's analysis of Exodus 15 as a liturgy,

however, is not without problems for the conservative inter-

preter. The Hungarian scholar Szorenyi has listed some

criteria for determining if a psalm may be classified as

cultic or non-cultic.3 He indicates that if a psalm had a

liturgical usage in the cult there should be certain

intrinsic evidences for a cultic setting, such as a descrip-

tion of the Temple, or a sacrifice, or a festival or some

 

1 Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship, II, 233-

34; Mowinckel's reasoning is not based on solid objective

facts, see Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament,

P. 955.

2 Sellin, Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 290.

3 J. D. A. Clines, "Psalm Research since 1955: II.

The Literary Genres," Tyndale Bulletin, 20 (1969), 114-15.

 


48

other cultic act.1 If there is no cultic emphasis, this

psalm is not liturgical.

The Song of the Reed Sea may supposedly appear to be

the concatenation of many literary genres. A poem with many

literary types is an enigma for form critical purposes

because the form critic's purpose in determining the liter-

ary genre is to determine the cultic setting of a psalm. A

similar situation is found in Psalm 36. Psalm 36 tentatively

has three literary genres in thirteen verses. Dahood has

drawn this conclusion: "The coexistence of three literary

types within a poem of thirteen verses points up the limita-

tions of the form-critical approach to the Psalter."2 This

conclusion should be applied to Exodus 15:1-18 as Childs'

conclusions reflect, "the Song does not reflect any one

genre in its form which would give the key to its function

within the early life of the nation."3

 

Setting

 

The word setting is used as a synonym for the

German expression Sitz im Leben.4 Gunkel was not satisfied

 

1 Ibid.

2 Mitchell Dahood, Psalms, in The Anchor Bible (3

vols.: Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., 1965), I,

218.

3 Childs, The Book of Exodus, p. 244.

4 Tucker, Form Criticism and the Old Testament,

p. 15.


49

with only classifying the literature of the Old Testament by

literary types, but he also attempted to discover the Sitz

im Leben or the situation in life from which a specific

literary genre arose.1 Every ancient literary genre was

initially related to a specific aspect of the national life

of Israel, maintained Gunkel. By studying the usage of each

type of Gattungen, the situation in life in which it was

used could be located.2 An example of this was Gunkel's

analysis of the Psalms. Gunkel had raised a question which

needed an answer. In essence this question was, were the

Psalms used by the community of Israel or by the individual

Israelite as he worshipped? Since many of them seemed to

express a personal religious feeling, they were assigned to

the postexilic period because it was regarded as the age of

the individual. Gunkel maintained that the oral form

regressed in time to the days of the worshipping community.

Therefore, in oral form they originally were cultic hymns

which were composed for worship in the pre-exilic days of

Israel's amphictyony.3

Mowinckel carried this process a step further "by

refusing the artificiality of detaching the psalms from the

 

1 Hahn, The Old Testament in Modern Research, pp.

137-38.

2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

 


50

rituals that had supposedly shaped them."1 There is a meth-

odological difference between Mowinckel and Gunkel. The

latter began with similarities of form and worked to a

common cultic Sitz im Leben for all the forms of a literary

type. Mowinckel reversed this procedure and "begins with

the cult, and derives the various literary forms from the

exigencies of the cult."2 A primary difference between

Mowinckel and Gunkel, therefore, is Mowinckel's cultic

emphasis.3 This cultic emphasis of Mowinckel has laid a

foundation for modern day Old Testament studies.4 Of course,

some in their zeal have gone further than Mowinckel. Others

however have cautiously questioned and modified Mowinckel's

approach to the Psalter as well as the other Hebrew poetical

sections.5 Those who approach the poetical sections of the

Old Testament consequently approach it with a cultic

 

1 Derek Kidner, Psalms 1-72, The Tyndale Old Test-

ament Commentaries, ed. by D. J. Wiseman (Downers Grove,

Illinois: Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), p. 8.

2 Clines, "Psalm Research since 1955: 11. The

Literary Genres," p. 109; cf. also Mowinckel, The Psalms in

Israel's Worship, I, 27-35.

3 Johnson, "The Psalms," p. 205; Johnson gives a

concise summary of Gunkel and Mowinckel's work in the

Psalms.

4 See Walter Eichrodt's informative chapter on the

cult in Theology of the Old Testament, The Old Testament

Library, trans. by J. A. Baker (2 vols.: Philadelphia:

Westminster Press, 1961), I, 98-177.

5 Kidner, Psalms 1-72, p. 9.

 


51

consciousness. Davies' comments are germane: "It is the

quest for 'cultic reality' and the cultic nucleus; which now

dominates contemporary study of the Psalms.”1 The various

settings for Exodus 15:1-18 will presently be examined.

 

Enthronement Festival of Yahweh

Exodus 15 has been associated with the enthronement

festival of Yahweh.2 Mowinckel maintains this presupposi-

tion. Weiser associates Exodus 15 with the covenant fes-

tival, but this is essentially the same presupposition as

Mowinckel's. Weiser verifies this conclusion when he states

that Exodus 15:1-18 "is a festival hymn to Yahweh . . .  

and to have been composed for the enthronement of Yahweh,

which was celebrated at the national feast of the cove-

nant."3 Weiser's festival of the covenant is the cultic

 

1 G. Henton Davies, "Worship in the Old Testament,"

The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by George

Arthur Buttrick (4 vols.: New York: Abingdon Press, 1962),

IV, 881; cf. also Martin J. Buss, "The Meaning of 'Cult'

and the Interpretation of the Old Testament," Journal of

Bible and Religion, XXXII:4 (October, 1964), 317-25.

2 Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel's Worship, I,

126-28.

3 Arthur Weiser, The Old Testament: Its Formation

and Development, trans. from the 4th ed., with revisions by

the author, by Dorothea M. Barton (New York: Association

Press, 1961), p. 106; Weiser would probably not agree with

this statement, but Mowinckel would, see Mowinckel, The

Psalms in Israel's Worship, II, 228-29; cf. also Helmer

Ringgren, "Enthronement Festival or Covenant Renewal?"

Biblical Research, 7 (1962), 45-48; Ringgren has observed

that there are many similarities between Mowinckel and

Weiser, but he has also recognized that each has a different

emphasis.

 

 


52

 

basis from which he interprets most of the Psalms.1 An

important caution must be mentioned in reference to

Mowinckel and Weiser's use of the cult. Muilenburg has

stated that Mowinckel sees too many types under the rubric

of the enthronement festival of the New Year.2 This same

criticism should be applied to Weiser.

 

Covenant Festival of Yahweh

Cross has associated the Song of the Reed Sea with

the covenant festival of the spring New Year.3 Cross has

maintained that Exodus 15 possibly originated in the cult at

Gilgal in the twelfth century B.C.4 His conclusions have

been stimulated by his studies in early Hebrew orthography.5

Cross has further been influenced by the assumption that

Israel shared certain motifs with her Canaanite neighbors.

Ugaritic literature has provided a basis for this assumption.

In Ugaritic literature Baal was a divine warrior who

 

1 Arthur Weiser, The Psalms, Old Testament Library,

trans. from the 5th German rev. ed. by Herbert Hartwell

(Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), pp. 23-35.

2 James Muilenburg, "Form Criticism and Beyond,"

Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXVIII:1 (March, 1969), 6.

3 Cross, "The Divine Warrior in Israel's Early

Cult," p. 27.

4 Ibid.

5 Cf. Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and David Noel Freedman,

Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic

Evidence, American Oriental Series, Vol. 36 (hereinafter

referred to as Early Hebrew Orthography) (New Haven,

Conneticut: American Oriental Society, 1952).

 


53

overcame Yamm. After this victory a palace was built for

Ba’l on Mount Sapon. A great feast was given among the gods

and then the temple cult was inaugurated.1 After this Ba’l

became a slave to Mot. Ba’l's consort ‘Anat defeated Mot

and Ba’l was consequently released. Ba’l entered into

another conflict with Mot and defeated him.2 Ba’l and ‘Anat

next went to war with Lotan, a dragon who corresponds sup-

posedly to the biblical Leviathan. Lotan was equated with

Yamm. The result of this victory over the dragon was "to

establish the rule of the warrior-king of the gods."3 Cross

has stated his purpose for discussing the Ba’l cycle:

 

The Ba’l cycle relates the emergence of kingship among

the gods. The tale of the establishment of a dynastic

temple and its cultus is a typical subtheme of the

cosmogony and its ritual, and is found also in Enuma,

elis and . . . in the Bible.4

 

The motifs of the Ugaritic literature are supposedly trans-

parent in the Song of the Reed Sea. Three of these themes

which are observable are the following: the divine warrior

enters into combat and gains the victory at the Sea, a

sanctuary is built on the mount of inheritance, and the god

manifests his eternal kingship.5

Cross' interpretation of these motifs has not left

his presuppositions unaffected. He has observed in Exodus

 

1 Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"

p. 5.

2 Ibid., pp. 6-7.

4 Ibid., p. 9.

3 Ibid., p. 8.

5 Ibid., p. 24.


54

15 that there is no reference to an east wind blowing to

split the sea so that the Israelites are able to cross on

a dry sea bed. Neither is there reference to the Egyptians

drowning in the sea.1 In the so-called late prose sources

in the Bible, the primary motif becomes the dividing of the

sea and Israel crossing on dry ground.2 The poetical sec-

tions developed in two directions. In one group the lan-

guage is mythical and in the other the creation battle with

Yamm is interwoven with the historical tradition of Exodus.3

Cross has derived the following conclusion:

 

     Our survey brings us to the conclusion that the Song

of the Sea cannot be fitted into the history of the

prose and poetic traditions of the Exodus, except at the

beginning of the development in the period of the judges.

Its independence is remarkable, preserved by the fixity

of its poetic form while prose traditions, especially

those orally transmitted, developed and crystallized in

a complex development.4

 

It is from this analysis that Cross has concluded

that Exodus 15:1-18 was composed for the cultus of the early

league shrine at Gilgal. It is at Gilgal that the Exodus

and Conquest are brought together in these cultic acts.

Verses 1-12 of Exodus 15 represent the victory at the Reed

Sea and verses 13-28 the conquest of the land. Cross has

reconstructed the cultic festival at Gilgal around Joshua

3-5.5 The ark was carried in a formal procession to Gilgal.

 

1 Ibid., p. 16.              2 Ibid., pp. 17-19.

3 Ibid., pp. 19-20.      4 Ibid., pp. 20-21.

5 Cross, "The Divine Warrior in Israel's Early Cult,"

pp. 26-27.


55

The Jordan was dammed.  Not only was the battle array per-

mitted to pass over on dry ground, but it pictured the

crossing of the Reed Sea as well as the crossing over into

the new land. When they had traveled from Shittim to Gilgal,

they set up twelve memorial stones to the twelve tribes when

they celebrated the covenant festival. Then the circumci-

sion etiology was carried out and the general of the host of

Yahweh made an appearance. Cross calls this the "Passover-

Massot," the old spring festival of the New Year. Therefore,

the provenance of Exodus 15 is found in the Gilgal cult in

the twelfth century B.C.1

Some cautions must be observed in reference to

Cross' analysis of this song. Cross has stated that there

is no reference to an east wind blowing to split the sea so

that Israel is able to cross on dry ground. He has also

stated that there is no reference to the Egyptians' drowning

in the sea.2 Cross' interpretation of some of the informa-

tion contained in this song is questionable. Although

Exodus 15 does not specifically mention the strong east wind

and the path through the sea, it certainly depicts these in

verses 8-10. The strong east wind is referred to in verse 8

"the blast of your nostrils" and in verse 10 "blew with your

wind." Verse 8 seems to indicate that there was a path in

 

1 Ibid.

2 Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"

p. 16.


56

the sea. The prepositional phrase dne-OmK; is used in Joshua

3:13, 16 to refer to a path for crossing the Jordan River.1

Cross has also stated that the Song of the Reed Sea was

brought together in the early days of the judges.2 If this

is the case, this would have been one of the few times that

all of the tribes of Israel cooperated during the period of

the judges.

A final caution deals with the motifs. There may

be a similarity between the motifs of the Song of the Reed

Sea and the mythological texts pertaining to Ba’l.3 The

Hebrews were undoubtedly aware of some of the mythology of

her neighbors due to their cultural contacts and undoubtedly

some of the imagery would be shared because they shared a

common cultural setting. However, if there are common

motifs, a conservative interpreter must insist that there

is certainly a theological distinction. Knife's remarks

are germane:

     In the common culture of the ancient Near East,

similar vocabulary, thought forms, poetic structure,

figures of speech, etc., belonged to each ethnic group

in common. Hence, the parallels that crop up every-

where. But the meaning in biblical literature, is often

 

1 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 14, n. 50.

2 Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"

20-21.

3 Craigie, "The Poetry of Ugarit and Israel," p. 25.


57

            unique because of its distinctly different theological

            and philosophical viewpoint.1

 

Harris has appropriately concluded "that mythological

symbols are used in the Bible for purposes of illustration

and communication of truth without in the least adopting

the mythology or approving of its ideas."2

 

                        Autumnal Festival of Yahweh

The Song of the Reed Sea has also been associated

with the autumnal festival by Muilenburg3 and Clement.4

Clement has evidently been influenced by Newman's develop-

ment of the festival cult. There are two themes in Newman's

development of this celebration.  First, Jerusalem is chosen

to be Yahweh's dwelling place. Second, Yahweh chooses the

Davidic dynasty to reign over Israel.5  Newman, however, does

not see the Sinaitic covenant as having been used in the

 

1 Wayne D. Knife, "Psalm 89 and the Ancient Near

East" (unpublished Th. D. dissertation, Grace Theological

Seminary, 1976), p. 211.

2 R. Laird Harris, "The Book of Job and Its Doctrine

of God," Grace Journal, 13:3 (Fall, 1972), 18; see also

Charles Lee Feinberg, "Parallels to the Psalms in Near

Eastern Literature," Bibliotheca Sacra, 104:415 (July-

September, 1947), 294-95.

3 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

P. 236.

4 R. E. Clement, Prophecy and Covenant, Studies in

Biblical Theology, no. 43 (London: SCM Press, 1965), p. 64.

5 Murray Lee Newman, Jr., The People of the Covenant:

A Study of Israel from Moses to the Monarch (New York:

Abingdon Press, 1962), p. 164.


58

Jerusalem autumnal festival.1 But Clement maintains that it

was used in the festival. Clement has based his reason for

this on the assumption that the Sinaitic and Davidic cove-

nant are two stages in the religious development of Israel.2

In defense of this point, Clement attempts to prove that

Exodus 15 and Psalm 78 "set forth the election of David and

Mount Zion as the goal and climax of the exodus and con-

quest."3 Hence, the conclusion has been drawn that Exodus

15 was used in Jerusalem's autumnal festival.

 

An Evaluation of Cultic Interpretations

It would appear that in these various cultic inter-

pretations there are some inherent weaknesses. The preced-

ing analysis of the various cultic settings of Exodus 15

demonstrates the conflicting interpretations. Another major

criticism is that these cultic interpretations have divorced

the composition of Exodus 15 from its immediate context in

the Scriptures. A final criticism is that many scholars

have not recognized a difference between an original and a

secondary Sitz im Leben. A factor which may have an influ-

ence on this presupposition is the possibility that the Song

of the Reed Sea was used in worship in subsequent times.

Craigie has seen this danger and has made this valuable

 

1 Ibid., n. 23.

2 Clement, Prophecy and Covenant, p. 62.

3 Ibid., p. 64.


59

caution:

 

This may account for the ease with which so many

scholars find its Sitz im Leben in the regular life of

Israel, and it points to the danger and difficulty of

failing to distinguish between an original and secondary

Sitz im Leben.1

 

Strophe and Meter

 

A study of the strophic and metrical structure for a

particular section of Hebrew poetry is sine qua non for the

interpretation of that passage. The discoveries of the

Ugaritic literature have contributed much in the elucidation

of Hebrew poetry. The result is that the modern interpreter

has a greater understanding of Semitic poetry in general and

Hebrew poetry in particular. The strophic and metrical

analysis for the Song of the Reed Sea has not been unaf-

fected. Coats has made the statement that the "metrical and

strophic structure in vv. lb-18 suggests that the Song of

the Sea should be considered a classical example of Hebrew

poetry."2 The purpose of this section is to analyze the

strophic and metrical structure of Exodus 15:1-18.

 

1 P. C. Craigie, "The Conquest and Early Hebrew

Poetry," Tyndale Bulletin, 20 (1969), pp. 80-81; Snaith has

contended that Exodus 15 has been a Sabbath canticle among

the Jews since early times, see N. H. Snaith, " JOs-Mya: The

Sea of Reeds: The Red Sea," Vetus Testamentum, XV:4-

(October, 1965), 397.

2 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 3.


60

Strophe

At the beginning of this century, Driver made this

remark about the strophic structure of Exodus 15: "there is

at present little unanimity among scholars."1 The following

chart has been incorporated into this thesis to show the

structural divisions proposed by some prominent scholars who

have analyzed the strophic structure of Exodus 15:1-18.

 

Schmidt          Beer                Rozelaar         Cross-             Cross

                                                Freedman      

lb                     lb                     lb                     lb                     lb

2                      2-3                  2-5                  (2)2                 (2)

3-5                  4-5                  3-5                  3-5                  3-5

6-7                  6-7                  6-10                6-8                  6-8

8-10                8-10                                        9-11                9-12

11                    11-12              11-13              (12)    

12-13                                                              13-16a            13-14

14-17              13-17              14-17              16b-17            15-16a

18                    18                    18                    18                    16b-18

 

Watts              Fohrer             Muilenburg    Freedman

lb                     lb                     lb                     lb

(2)                                           2-3                  2

3-5                  4-6                  4-5                  3-5

6-7                  7-8                  6                      6

8-10                9-10                7-8                  7-8

                                                9-10                9-10

11-12              11-13              11                    11

13-17                                      12-13              12-14

                        14-16a            14-16a            15-16a

                                                16b                  16b

                                                17       

18                    16b-18            18                    17-183

 

1 Driver, The Book of Exodus, p. 129.

2 A number in parentheses means that the author(s)

has excised this verse from the text.

3 This writer has taken most of this chart from

Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 2; the analysis by Freedman

has been added by this writer; the articles from which this

synopsis was derived are: Hans Schmidt, "Das Meerlied, Ex.,

 


                                                                                                            61

            The preceding synopsis reflects a lack of consensus

about the strophic structure of Exodus 15. This situation

has however been rectified by Muilenburg.1 Freedman has

verified this observation with this comment:

 

The existence of a strophic structure in this poem

may be regarded as highly probable if not virtually

certain. The single most important clue has been pro-

vided by Professor James Muilenburg in his recent study

Exodus 15.2

 

Muilenburg has defined a strophe in this way:

 

A strophe, then, may be defined as a series of a bi-cola

or tri-cola with a particular beginning and a particular

close, possessing unity of thought, structure, and

style.3

 

The strophic length may be reflected by an alphabetic acros-

tic, the cryptic "Selah," natural "sense-groups,"4 or a

refrain.5 In Exodus 15 the strophic structure is elucidated

 

15, 2-19," Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissen-

schaft, 4.9 (1931), 59-66; Rozelaar, "The Song of the Sea,"

pp. 221-28; Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," pp.

237-50; Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"

pp. 1-25; Watts, "The Song of the Sea--Ex XV," pp. 371-80;

Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh," pp. 233-

51; and Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus," pp. 171-73.

1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

pp. 233-51.

2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 164.

3 James Muilenburg, "Poetry," Encyclopedia Judaica,

Vol. 13 (New York: Macmillan Company, 1971), p. 675.

4 That is by the natural structure of the psalm; this

may include a change of subject or addressee or some other

rhetorical feature.

5 Theodore H. Robinson, The Poetry of the Old Testa-

ment (London: Gerald Duckworth and Co., 1947), pp. 43-4.6.


62

because of the refrains in verses 6, 11, and 16.

According to Freedman the salient point to under-

stand the strophic structure is the refrains.1 The word

refrain is not being used in a technical sense for a refrain

is a line of poetry which is repeated periodically in a

poem. Actually these refrains are dividers or buffers

between the strophes. These refrains or dividers connect

what precedes and follows. In verse 6 the poet used the

tetragrammaton twice. It was not used in verses 4-5, but it

was used in verses 2-3. In verses 4-5 the poet is concerned

with the enemy and in verses 7-10 he is concerned with the

enemy. Thus, verse 6 not only summarizes the first strophe,

verses 2-5, but it is the terminus a quo for the following

strophe.

Verse 11 does not relate as well to the theme of its

respective strophe as verses 6 and 16 do, but there is a

reason for this. Verse 11 is the apex of the poem and hence

it relates more generally to the preceding and following

strophes. Verse 6 focuses on Yahweh's powerful right hand

which destroyed the enemy and verse 16 focuses on the cross-

ing of Yahweh's people into the promised land. Verse 11 is

the fulcrum between these two. Yahweh is responsible for

the victory at sea and for the triumphant march to Canaan.2

 

1 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 164.

2 Ibid., p . 185.

 


63

In verse 16 the strophe is brought to a masterful conclu-

sion. The repetition of the phrase "until thy people pass

over" accentuates the movement of Israel into the promised

land of Canaan. Thus the connection between the refrain

and the preceding strophe is clear.1

The refrains also stand apart from their strophes

in form and content. These three refrains share formal

characteristics which set them apart from the rest of the

poem.2 Only three refrains resemble the design of partial

repetition which is familiar from other Biblical poetry as

well as Ugaritic poetry.3 The content of the refrains is

listed in the following:

verse 6            hOAhy; j~n;ymiy; Your right hand, O Yahweh

HaKoBa yriDAx;n,     is glorious in power

hOAhy; j~nymiy; Your right hand, O Yahweh

byeOx Cfar;Ti       shatters the enemy.

verse 11          hkAmokA-ymi    Who is like You

hOAhy; MlixeBA   among the gods, 0 Yahweh?

hkAmokA ymi      Who is like You

wd,qoBa rDAx;n,    awesome in holiness

tlo.hit; xrAOn   Awesome in praiseworthy deeds

xl,P, hWefo             worker of wonders?

 

1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 248.

2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 164.

3 Ibid.

 


64

verse 16          rbofEya-dfa  Until Your people

hOAhy; j~m.;fa    pass over, O Yahweh

rbofEya-dfa  Until Your people

tAyniqA Uz-Mfa   whom You purchased, pass over.

The repetitive parallelism should be noticed. The par-

allelism in verses 6 and 16 could be illustrated in the

following pattern:

 

verse 6            ab/cd

ab/ef

verse 16          abc/abd

           

Verses 6 and 16 are couplets, however verse 11 is a triad.

The first two bicola of verse 11 reflect this parallelism.

They might be illustrated in the following manner:

abc/adc1

The last bicolon of verse 11 breaks this parallelism. This

has presented a problem for some. It has been suggested

that the last bicolon of verse 11 should be taken with

verse 12.2 Freedman maintains that the reason why verse 11

is more elaborate than verses 6 and 16 is because it is the

apex of the poem. He likens these three refrains to a

pyramid. The two regular refrains, verses 6 and 16, form

the base and verse 11 is the apex of the pyramid.3

This parallelism is further demonstrated by the

 

1 This writer is using c to represent Mlixe.

2 Watts, "The Song of the Sea--Ex. XV," p. 373.

3 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 165.

 


65

usage of the divine names in the refrain. In Exodus 15:1-18

the divine name is used ten times and the abbreviated form

Yah is used once. The divine name is used once in the exor-

dium, verse 1, and twice in the coda, verses 17-18. In

verse 2 Yah is used once and in verse 3 Yahweh is used

twice. A reason for its usage in verses 2-3 is because

Yahweh is the object of the confession.1 As far as the poem

is concerned, the tetragrammaton appears in verse 6 twice

and once in verses 11 and 16. This would appear to be sig-

nificant for outside of the exordium, the coda, and the two

verses where Yahweh is the subject of interest the divine

name is only used in the refrains. This would appear to

demonstrate the unique nature of verses 6, 11, and 16. The

uniqueness of these three verses is the argument for them

being understood as refrains or dividers. Freedman's con-

clusion is germane: "Thus the three refrains or dividers

form the skeletal structure on which the poem is built."2

The first strophe is composed of verses 2-5, the

second strophe is made up of verses 7-10, and the third

strophe is composed of verse 12 through the first half of

verse 16. The first strophe has two stanzas: verses 2-3

and verses 4-5. The first stanza focuses upon the triumph

of Yahweh. The second stanza focuses upon the Sea as the

 

1 Ibid.

2 Ibid.

 


66

place of the enemies' destruction. Both stanzas are made up

of three bicola. The last half of verse 1 does not appear

to fit in directly with the first strophe. The two bicola

of the last half of the first verse appear to be an exordium

or an introduction. It does not fit in with the strophic

structure of the first strophe.1 It should be observed that

the first stanza is apparently an expansion of the first

bicolon in the exordium. The first bicolon of the exordium

could be translated:

I will sing to Yahweh

                for He is highly exalted

The name Yahweh was used in the exordium and it appears to

be a key word along with other variants of the divine name

in verses 2-3. In verse 2 h..yA   appears, in verse 3  ylixe and

yhelox< are used, and hvhy is used twice in verse 3. The

expansion is significant and this is corroborated by the

fact that there is no mention of a divine name in the

second stanza of the first strophe. An expansion of it hrAywixA,

in verse 1, is Uhven;xa and Uhn;m,m;roxE in verse 2. Therefore,

this demonstrates that stanza 1 of the first strophe is an

expansion of the first bicolon in the exordium.2

The second bicolon of the exordium could be trans-

lated:

 

1 Rozelaar, "The Song of the Sea," p. 226.

2 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

pp. 239-40.


67

Horse and chariot

He has cast into the Sea.

 

The second stanza of the first strophe is an expansion of

the second bicolon in verse 1. An important word in this

bicolon is the word sea. Four synonyms are used:

JUs-Mya, tmohoT;, and tOlOcm;.  The verb used in the last

bicolon of verse 1 hmArA has four synonyms in verses 4-5:

hrAyA, UfB;Fu, Umyus;kay; and Udr;yA. This would appear to

confirm the fact that stanza 2 of the first strophe is an

expansion of the last bicolon in the exordium.1

The second strophe has two stanzas: verses 7-8 and

verses 9-10. The content of these sections justifies this

division. In verses 7-8 the poet deals with the effect of

the violent storm on the enemy, verse 7, and the sea, verse

8. Verses 7-8 are in the form of a confessional. In verse

9 the poet regresses in time to the enemies decision to pur-

sue Israel through the Reed Sea in order to destroy and to

plunder her. The destruction of the enemy is described in

verse 10 which is in sharp contrast to the enemies original

expectations.2

The structure of this second strophe is similar to

the first strophe in that first there is a confession and

then an historical narrative. The first stanza has four

bicola and the second stanza has five bicola. In this

 

1 Ibid.

2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 165.

 


68

strophe the two stanzas have a number of parallels. In the

opening line of verse 8 is HaUrB; and in the, opening line of

verse 10 is j~HEUrB;. The position of the illustration in

verse 8, dne-Omk;, is duplicated by the position of the

figure in verse 10, tr,p,OfKa  .  A structural diagram of verses

8 and 10 follows:

verse 8                                    j~yP,xa HaUrb;U

  Myima Umr;f,n,

Myliz;no dne-Omk; Ubc.;ni

    MyA-bl,B; tmohot; Uxp;qA

verse 10                                  j~HEUrB; TAp;wanA

                         MyA Oms.AKi

                     MyriyDixa MyimaB;

 

The ending of the second stanza, MyriyDixa MyimaB; is also

similar to the ending of the first stanza MyA-bl,B;.  Not only

are the endings of the two stanzas similar but they also are

reminiscent of the theme in stanza 2 of the first strophe.

The phrase in verse 7 j~n;OxG; brob; is reminiscent of the

phrase in the exordium hxAGA hxoGA.1  Thus this should tend

demonstrate the unity within the poem.

The third strophe likewise has two stanzas: verses

12-14 and verse 15 through the first half of verse 16.

relationship of the third strophe to the poem has not

 

1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

pp. 242-43.


69

remained unquestioned. As Watts has said about this sec-

tion: "The very loose, even poor, poetic form makes one

wonder what has happened to the verses."1 Coats regards

verses 12-17 as a subsequent addition.2 This position is

unwarranted for there are many affinities between the third

and second strophe. The first stanza in this strophe has

four bicola like the first stanza in the second strophe.

The second stanza of this strophe has five bicola like the

second stanza of the second strophe. This strophe follows

the pattern of the first and second strophe. The first

stanza is a confession and the second stanza is a narrative.

The first stanza of the third strophe has a number

of affinities with the rest of the poem. In verses 12-13

the 2ms pronominal address which was used in reference to

Yahweh has been used previously in verses 7 and 10. The

hymnic confessional style which was used in the first stanza

of the two preceding strophes is the formal structure of

this stanza.3 In verse 12 j~n;ymiy; is used. This word has

appeared twice in verse 6. A similar word is used in verse

 

1 Watts, "The Song of the Sea--Ex. XV," p. 377.

2 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 17.

3 This writer is using the word confession in the

sense that this stanza, and the first stanza of the first

and second strophe, is primarily addressed to Yahweh in

either the second or third person.

 


 

70

16 faOrz;.1  Verse 12 concatenates the two preceding strophes

with this strophe. Verse 12 is a recapitulation of the

content in the preceding section of Exodus 15. Verses 13-

14 advance the story from there. This stanza of this

strophe is a contrast with the first stanza of the second

strophe. In verse 7 God overthrew Israel's adversaries with

j~n;OxG and j~n;roHE, but in verse 13 Yahweh protects and guides

His chosen nation with j~D;s;Ha and j~z.;fA.2

It should be observed that the second stanza of the

third strophe also has a number of affinities with the rest

of the poem. The subject matter of verse 15 is similar to

verse 9. In verse 9 the enemy boasted about their antic-

ipated victory and in verse 15 the foreign nations who will

oppose Israel will be terrified because of Yahweh's victory

at the Reed Sea.3 In verse 8 Yahweh has control over nature

and in verse 15 He has dominion over nations.4 There is

another outstanding affinity between the second stanza of

the second strophe and the corresponding stanza of the third

strophe. In the former, verse 10, the poet summarizes that

stanza by using the second person pronoun, which refers to

Yahweh, in a confessional form. Verse 16 is a facsimile of

verse 10. In verse 10 the enemy sank like lead and in verse

 

1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 185.

2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," pp.

185-86.

3 Ibid., p. 187.

4 Ibid., p. 188.


71

16 the anticipated enemy will be silenced like a stone.1

In summary of the strophic analysis of Exodus 15,

the salient point is an understanding of the cadre of Exodus

15. The framework of Exodus 15:1-18 is that of refrains or

dividers in verses 6, 11, and 16. Having an understanding

of this, the strophic structure of the pericope of Exodus

15:1-18 becomes elucidated.

 

Meter

In analyzing the meter of any pericope of Hebrew

poetry, it becomes obvious that there is much subjectivity

involved. Gottwald has made note of this subjectivity:

 

But the metric hypotheses rest upon a combination of

inferences from parallelism and application of the

Masoretic accents, rather than on any intrinsic evidence

from Biblical Hebrew.2

 

When it is considered that Exodus 15 was composed in the

latter part of the second millennium B.C. and that the

Masoretic scribes inserted their accentual system in the

Hebrew Old Testament in the latter half of the first millen-

nium A.D., it leaves a question in the mind of the inter-

preter as to whether or not they knew where the poet had

intended to have the words stressed. Bright has made this

 

1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 248.

2 N. K. Gottwald, "Hebrew Poetry," The Interpreter's

Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by George Arthur Buttrick, et al.

(4 vols.: New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), III, 834.


72

point, "but we must not forget, too, that frequently we

cannot be altogether sure what the meter is because we do

not know how the poet intended the words to be stressed and

pronounced in oral recitation."1 It is, therefore, under-

standable why this area of metrical analysis has been

abused. The study of Ugaritic has provided a source of

information to correct these abuses, as Gordon has correctly

observed from his study of Ugaritic for he has succinctly

observed:

 

Perhaps the most important fact to bear in mind is that

the poets of the ancient Near East did not know of

exact meter. Therefore emendations metri causa are

pure whimsy. . . . All that is asked of those who

maintain metric hypotheses is to state their metric

formulae and to demonstrate that the formulae fit the

text. Instead they emend the texts to fit their hypo-

theses.2

 

In order to demonstrate that a metrical analysis of Exodus

15 is superficial, a metrical analysis of this pericope

of Scripture will be examined.

This poem is essentially a four stress distich 2:2.

There are six or possibly seven places where it is a six

stress distich: verse two (twice), five, eight, fourteen,

the last half of sixteen and possibly verse seventeen. A

metrical analysis could be diagrammed for Exodus 15:1-18 in

the following way:

 

1 John Bright, Jeremiah: A New Translation with

Introduction and Commentary, in The Anchor Bible (Garden

City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1965), p. CXXXIII.

2 Gordon, UT, p. 131.


73

Exordium       (verse 1)         2:2                                          2:2

Strophe 1  (verses 2-5)                                            

Hymnic Confessional                                              

    2                              3:3                                          3:3

    3                                                      2:2     

Historical Narrative                                     

    4                              3:2                                          2:2

    5                                                      3:3     

Refrain (verse 6)                   2:2                                          2:2

Strophe 2 (verses 7-10)       

Hymnic Confessional                                              

    7                              2:2                                          2;2      

    8                                                      2:2 (or 3:3)   

Historical Narrative 

    9                              2:2                  2:2                  2:2                 

   10                                         2:2                  2:2     

Refrain (verse 11)                 2:2                  2:2                  2:2

Strophe 3 (verses 12-16)                                        

Hymnic Confessional                                              

    12                                                    2:2

    13                            2:2                                          2:2

    14                                                    3:3     

Prophetical Narrative  

    15                            2:2                 2:2                  2:2                 

    16a                                      2:2                  2:2     

Refrain (verse 16b)                                       3:3     

Coda (verses 17-18)

   17                             2:2 (or 3:3)    2:2                  2:2

   18                                                     2:21    

There are some questionable elements in this metri-

cal analysis. In the first bicolon of verse 2, it could be

scanned as 3:3 or as 3:2 or 2:3 or finally as 2:2. The

counting of this verse will be influenced by the way h.yA trAm;zi

is counted in the first colon and yli-yhiy;va in the second

colon.2 Verse 3 could be rendered as either 2:2 or 3:2.

This analysis would depend on how hmAHAl;mi wyxi: is counted.

1 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," pp.

193-94; this writer has made only minor revisions of

Freedman's chart. The revisions only affect the structural

outline and not the metrical arrangements.

2 Ibid., p. 176.


74

Freedman has analyzed the first bicolon of verse 4 as 3:2,

however this may be questionable.1 Coats has counted it

as 2:2.2 Verse 5 could be rendered as either 2:3, 2:4, 3:3,

or 3:4.3 Another ambiguity is found in verse 11. The first

two bicola could be rendered 3:3:3,4 however Freedman has

more recently expressed a preference for 2:2/2:2/2:2.5 The

metrical analysis is dependent upon the analysis of

and xl,p, hWefo.  The meter of verse 14 should apparently be

recognized as 3:3. Gray, however, counts this as 3:4.6

This is plausible if zHaxA lyHi is linked together. The last

example, demonstrating the inherent weaknesses of the metri-

cal analysis, is found in the third bicolon of verse 15.

 

1 Ibid., p. 179.

2 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 1; cf. also

Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh," p. 241;

Oesterley has supposedly solved the problem by excising OlyHe

from the text and as a result making certain that the meter

was 2:2, see W. 0. E. Oesterley, Ancient Hebrew Poems

(London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; New

York: Macmillan Company, 1938), p. 19; see also George Adam

Smith, The Early Poetry of Israel in Its Physical and Social

Origins, The Schweich Lectures, 1910 (London: Oxford

University Press for the British Academy, 1912), p. 19.

3 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," P. 179.

4 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 247,

n. 30.

5 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 184.

6 George Buchanan Gray, The Forms of Hebrew Poetry,

with a prolegomenon by David Noel Freedman, The Library of

Biblical Studies, ed. by Harry M. Orlinsky (n.p.: Ktav

Publishing House, 1972), p. 181.


75

Usually lKo is part of a construct chain however the Maso-

retic punctuation discourages this. Freedman has suggested

that lKo should be understood as an emphatic adverb. If

this is the case, this is parallel with the first bicolon of

verse 15, UlhEb;ni zxA, "indeed, they were terrified." The

meter might consequently be 2:2 for this bicolon.1

This analysis should demonstrate the subjectivity

and inconsistencies involved with the metrical analysis.

The difference between 2:2, 2:3, or whatever may not be that

significant. Further confirmation is derived from Babylon

and Ugarit. In the poetical texts from Babylon, there is

often a four-stress distich, 2:2, but this is interspersed

with a six-stress tristich, 2:2:2, or even a seven-stress

tristich 2:2:3. Ugaritic literature reveals a six-stress

distich, but there are numerous examples violating this.2

Since Ugaritic and Hebrew are related chronologically3 and

dialectically, a metrical analysis must remain suspect.

Young's conclusions about the metrical system in Ugaritic

poetry are germane:

 

1 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 167.

2 Gottwald, "Hebrew Poetry," III, 834.

3 Dahood dates the Ugaritic tablets from about 1375-

1195 B.C.; see Dahood, Psalms, III, XXII.


76

 

Nor does it manifest any evidence of an accentual metric

system, or syllabic metric system. Variation is the

norm, not the exception.1

 

These, therefore, "argue strongly the futility of seeking

metrical exactness in the poetry of the OT."2 It is there-

fore useless to look for a metric system in the Song of the

Reed Sea.

 

1 G. Douglas Young, "Ugaritic Prosody," Journal of

Near Eastern Studies, 9 (1950), 132.

2 Gottwald, "Hebrew Poetry," p. 834.


 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER IV

  EXEGESIS

 

The Greek word e]chge<omai literally means "to lead

out."1 In theology this word is commonly used in reference

to "a critical explanation of a portion of the Hebrew Old

Testament and Greek New Testament."2 The primary purpose

of this chapter is to give a critical explanation of Exodus

15:1-18.

 

Prose Introduction

The first half of verse 1 is a prose introduction to

the Song of the Reed Sea. There is a syntactical considera-

tion and an etymological problem that will be examined in

this section.

 

     The Usage of the Imperfect

The interpreter's understanding of the imperfect

aspect of the verb has gone through some revisions in recent

years. An aspect of this revision is demonstrated by the

 

1 Joseph Henry Thayer, ed., Greek-English Lexicon of

the New Testament, trans., rev., and enlarged from Grimm's

Wilke's Clavis Novi Testamenti by Joseph Henry Thayer

(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1962), p. 223.

2 James R. Battenfield, "Hebrew Exegetical Methods,"

(unpublished lecture notes, Grace Theological Seminary,

1976).


78

interpretation of rywiyA zxA. Gesenius has explained the

usage of the imperfect when used after this particle as

placing an emphasis upon the duration of the action.1

Williams classifies this as a usage of the preterite. In a

prose context zxA plus the imperfect often functions like

the perfect aspect of the verb. This usage is tantamount to

the Greek aorist tense, it has no horizon.2 Instead of

translating hw,mo rywiyA zxA as "then Moses used to sing," it

would be better translated prosaically "then Moses sang."

 

The Etymological Problem with hw,mo

The Hebrew name for Moses hw,mo has an etymological

problem. There are basically three views about the etymol-

ogy of this name.

 

A Hebrew name

The first view indicates that hw,mo is a Hebrew name

taken from the verb hwAmA, "to draw out."3 Thus hw,mo is a

qal active participle and would mean "one who draws forth."'

 

1 Kautzsch, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, p. 314, par.

107c; cf. also A. B. Davidson, Hebrew Syntax (3rd ed.;

Edinburgh: T and T Clark, 1901), p. 68, par. 45.

2 Ronald J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline (2nd

ed.; Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1976), pp. 32-

33, pars. 176-77.

3 Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, eds.,

Lexicon in Veteris Testamenti Libros (hereinafter referred

to as KB) (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1958), p. 572.

4 Cf. K. A. Kitchen, "Moses," The New Bible Diction-

ary, ed. by J. D. Douglas (Grand Rapids: William B.

Eerdmans Publishing House, 1962), p. 843.


79

Much of the controversy on this name centers around Exodus

2:10. Exodus 2:10 could be translated: "So the child grew

and she brought him to the daughter of Pharaoh, and he

became her son and she called his name Moses for she said

'because I have drawn you out of the water."' The problem

is this, to whom does the pronoun she1 refer? Kitchen

answers that it refers to his mother. He reasons that the

pun would come most naturally to an Hebrew and not to an

Egyptian.2 The daughter of Pharaoh, then, assimilated this

Semitic name into the common Egyptian word Mase. The Egypt-

ian word ms was a common word for child in the fourteenth

and thirteenth centuries B.C. This is possibly an ellipsis

from some longer name such as Ramose, "Re is born."3 This

view, therefore, is teaching that hw,mo is a Semitic name

which was assimilated into Egyptian.

There are a few problems with this view. The pro-

noun she in verse 10 could just as well refer to Pharaoh's

daughter. There also is a difference between hw,mo and yUwmA

It would appear that following Kitchen's logic that a qal

passive participle would have been used in the text. A

final question might be raised, how does one know that this

name was assimilated into Egyptian? Perhaps the Hebrew word

 

1 This refers to the last reference to this pronoun

in verse 10.

2 Kitchen, "Moses," p. 843.

3 Ibid.


80

is an Egyptian word which was assimilated into Hebrew at

that time?

 

An Egyptian name from ms

Another theory about the etymology of hw,mo is that

it is derived from the Egyptian word ms. This word means

"child."1 It comes from the verb msi, "bear, give birth."2

The substantive is sometimes used in the sense of "son of so

and so." Usually this usage is in connection with a theo-

phoric name which is comprised of two elements such as

Ah-mose, "son of the moon," or Ra-meses, "son of re."3 It

is usually assumed that Moses was a theophoric name with

Moses being an abbreviated form of a longer name such as

Hapmose, "son of the Nile." When Moses refused to be called

the son of Pharaoh's daughter, Hebrews 11:24, he eliminated

the name of the heathen god from his name.4 The context

appears to indicate that Pharaoh's daughter did name Moses.

Others have indicated that the name Moses was not a

 

1 Alan Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar: Being an introduc-

tion to the Study of Hieroglyphs (3rd rev. ed.; London:

Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 570.

2 Ibid.

3 A. S. Yahuda, The Language of the Pentateuch in Its

Relation to Egypt, Vol. I (Oxford: University Press;

London: Humphrey Milford, 1933), p. 258.

4 Francis D. Nichol, ed., The Seventh-Day Adventist

Bible Commentary, Vol. I (Washington, D. C.: Review and

Herald Publishing Association, 1953), p. 504.

 

 


                                                                                                                        81

theophoric name. Pharaoh's daughter simply named him ms,

"boy" or "child" and by this the anonymity of Moses finding

was explained.1 Not only does Cassuto espouse that the

daughter of Pharaoh named him Son, but he also denominates

that this is a double pun. Since the name Moses is an

active participle form, there is another pun for Moses drew

Israel from the waters of servitude.2 If this is the case,

that Moses means "son," this is not an etymological parono-

masia but a paronomasia of assonance.

 

An Egyptian name from mw-se

            There is another view which is closely related to

the second, but it deviates enough from the other view to

deserve comment. It is suggested that Moses is an Egyptian

name made up of two words mw-se.3 The Egyptian word mw

means "water" and it is used metaphorically for seed in the

sense of son. This metaphorical usage of the word is

applied to divine beings and, consequently, it is possible

to understand the daughter of Pharaoh applying this to the

baby Moses since she may have regarded him as a gift of the

Nile god.4 The Egyptian word se means "pond, lake, expanse

 

            1 Alan H. Gardiner, "Communications: The Supposed

Egyptian Equivalent of the Name of Goshen," The Journal of

Egyptian Archaeology, V (1918), 221.

            2 Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus, p. 21.

            3 Yahuda, The Language of the Pentateuch in Its

Relation to Egypt, p. 260.

            4 Ibid., n. 1.

 


                                                                                                                        82

of water."1 Yahuda then applied it to the Nile River.2

Therefore, Moses means "son of the Nile." The emphasis in

the name Moses is supposedly on se, "Nile," so the writer

preserved this emphasis by the prepositional phrase Myim.aha Nmi.

The relationship between hw,mo and Uhtiywim; is secondary and

for stylistic purposes.3 It would appear that Yahuda's

position is based upon scholastic gymnastics.

 

Conclusions

            Some conclusions should be drawn from this. The

paronomasia is probably one of assonance and not etymology.

This seems to be a literary device used by Moses. In

Genesis 4:1 Eve named her first born son Cain, Nyiqa because

she had acquired, ytiyniqA, him with the help of the Lord. In

verse 25 of this same chapter, Eve gave birth to another son

and she named him Seth, twe, because God gave, twA, to her

another son.4  The point is this, the understanding of a

present day interpreter should not be read into Exodus 2:10.

The one who named Moses probably named him "the one who

draws forth" simply because that is exactly what happened,

she drew him from the water. It would also appear that

 

            1 Ibid., n. 2.                2 Ibid.

            3 Ibid.

            4 Examples of this are numerous in Genesis; cf. also

Genesis 5:29, 21:3, 6, 25:26, 29:32-35, 30:8, 11, 13, 18.

This is a list of a few examples.

 


                                                                                                                        83

Pharaoh's daughter named Moses. The clause immediately

preceding the one under consideration states that Moses

"became her son." This appears to indicate that he became

the son of Pharaoh's daughter and she subsequently named him

Moses. Another reason why Pharaoh's daughter named him is

because she was the one responsible for Moses having been

drawn out of the waters. A frequent objection is raised

that Pharaoh's daughter could not have given Moses this

name for it is a Semitic name. It is possible that Phar-

aoh's daughter was acquainted with the Semitic languages.

It is also possible that the Hebrew verb is of Egyptian ori-

gin. Another verb ms means "to bring."1 Possibly at this

time or earlier, it was incorporated into Hebrew.

 

                                    Exordium

            The exordium is the poetical incipit to the Song of

the Reed Sea. The verb hrAywixA presents a textual problem.

The various ramifications of the tetragrammaton will be

analyzed. The verb hxAGA also is a word that is not used too

frequently. Finally, the translation of Obk;ro suggests that

it is an anachronism. These problems will be examined.

 

                        A Textual Problem with hrAywixA

            In Exodus 15:1 the cohortative verb hrAywixA is

preserved in the Masoretic Text2 however the reading in the

 

            1 Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, p. 570.

            2 Hereinafter referred to as the MT.


                                                                                                            84

Septuagint,1 Vulgate,2 and Peshitta3 reflect that they were

translated from hrAywinA. There are a couple of reasons why

the reading of the MT is to be preferred. First, the

Samaritan Pentateuch4 reads vrwx. This reading appears to

be a conflate reading which combines the reading hrAywixA in

verse 1 and Urywi in verse 21. The Sam. would therefore

support the reading in the MT. Another reason supporting

the reading of the MT is that the 1cs is used in other

pericopes of Hebrew poetry. An example of this is found in

Judges 3:5. Also the change between the cohortative and the

imperative occurs in Numbers 10:35 and Psalm 68:2.5 The

reading of the MT is therefore to be preferred.

 

The Tetragrammaton

The tetragrammaton still remains problematic for

some. Germane to this is the question concerning the

provenance of the divine name. There are a number of

theories offered to explain it.

 

hvhy originated with the Kenites

One hypothesis is that the divine name originated

with the Kenites. When Moses worked with Jethro, he

 

1 Hereinafter referred to as LXX.

2 Hereinafter referred to as V.

3 Hereinafter referred to as S.

4 Hereinafter referred to as Sam.

5 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 243.

 


85

supposedly borrowed the name of the god of Jethro and then

applied it to his God. This theory has no support in the

Old Testament and there does not appear to be any attesta-

tion of any Kenite god bearing this divine name. In fact,

"Yahweh appears to have been a name peculiar to Israel and

to have been borrowed from Israel when it occurs in the

proper names of other tribes."1

 

hvhy originated from a primeval interjection Yah

Another theory is that hvhy originated from a

"primeval interjection, Yah."2 This was used in connection

with the moon cult. The complete name of Yahweh or Yahu,

then, is the combination of the interjection plus the third

person singular pronominal suffix xUh: "O it is he." If

this is the correct interpretation, how is the religious

content of the name to be explained?3

 

1 Raymond Abba, "The Divine Name Yahweh," Journal of

Biblical Literature, LXXX:4 (December, 1961), 320-21; how-

ever, the recent discoveries at Ebla may change this con-

clusion; see Paul C. Maloney, "Assessing Ebla," Biblical

Archaeology Review, IV:1 (March, 1978), 9; Giovanni

Pettinato, "The Royal Archives of Tell-Mardikh-Ebla,"

Biblical Archeologist, 39:2 (May, 1976), 48; the name Ya is

spelled with a divine determinative on the name Ya-ra-mu,

the divine determinative signifies that Ya is the divine

element, see Adam Mikaya, "The Politics of Ebla," Biblical

Archaeology Review, IV:3 (September/October, 1978), 6.

2 G. R. Driver, "The Original Form of the Name

'Yahweh': Evidence and Conclusion," Zeitschrift fur die

Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 4.6 (1928), 24.

3 Edmond Jacob, Theology of the Old Testament, trans.

by Arthur W. Heathcote and Philip J. Allcock (New York:

Harper and Row Publishers, 1958), p. 48; see also Sigmund

 


86

 hyhy is patterned according to the imperfect aspect

Some scholars have however contended that this word

is patterned according to the imperfect aspect of a finite

verb. Two questions are therefore raised, what is the basic

meaning of hvh or hyh and is the verbal stem a qal or an

hiphil?

 

What is the basic meaning of hvh or hyh?

In relationship to this question, a number of sug-

gestions have been made. The first suggestion is that it

comes from the Arabic hwy meaning "passionate love," one who

acts passionately, hence "the passionate one." Another sug-

gestion is that it comes from yvh and the Ugaritic hwt,

"word." The resultant idea is "he who speaks." A third

view is that this contains a causitive idea, "to cause to

fall" from the verb hvh. This was used to refer to rain or

lightning. Another suggestion is that this is derived from

the Arabic verb hwy, "to blow." Yahweh was supposedly seen

as a storm god. There is another alternative which appears

to be more credible. This alternative indicates that the

tetragrammaton is derived from hvh which became hyh.1

Abba has suggested that the original sense of the verb was

"to fall." From this developed the idea "to befall," "to

 

Mowinckel, "The Name of the God of Moses," Hebrew Union

College Annual, XXXII (1961), 121-33.

1 B. W. Anderson., "Names of God," The Interpreter's

Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by George Arthur Buttrick,

et al. ( vols.: New York: Abingdon Press, 1962), II, 410.

 


87

become," and hence "to be."1 This view appears to be the

most tenable. This would harmonize well with the revelatory

exposition of the tetragrammaton in Exodus 3:14-15.2

 

Is hvhy in the hiphil or qal stem?

Hiphil stem.--Another question raised is this: is

hvhy in the hiphil or qal stem? Albright has testified

that this is an hiphil form.3 A justification for this con-

clusion is that the name Yahweh has been well established

in primitive epigraphic sources. It appears in the seventh

century B.C. Lachish letters. From the ninth century B.C.,

the Mesa’ Stone has the divine name recorded. The name

Yahweh appears in Amorite personal names from the Mari

texts.4 From this list of Amorite personal names, two forms

have been represented yahwi and yahu. These are hiphil

imperfects and hence they have a causative idea.5 Another

 

1 Abba, "The Divine Name Yahweh," p. 324; however

Gesenius has suggested that the original sense was "to

breathe," Samuel Prideaux Tregellas, ed., Gesenius' Hebrew

and Chaldean Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Grand

Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1949), p. 219.

2 J. A. Motyer, The Revelation of the Divine Name

(reprinted; London: Tyndale Press, 1970), pp. 17-24.

3 William Foxwell Albright, review of L'epithete

divine Jahve Seba’ot: Atude philologique, historique et

exegetiaue by B. N. Wambacq, Journal of Biblical Literature,

LXVII (1948), 380.

4 Cross lists these usages in "Yahweh and the God of

the Patriarchs," Harvard Theological Review, 55 (1962), 252.

5 Ibid.

 


88

justification is drawn from, the Barth-Ginsberg law.1 The

hypothetical imperfect stative intransitive form would be

yvah;yi which developed in Hebrew to hy,h;yi.2  Since it is sup-

posedly well established that the form of the tetragrammaton

does appear to be in the hiphil stem and since the Barth-

Ginsberg law excludes the qal stem, hvhy must be in the

hiphil stem.3

Qal stem.--Other scholars, however, maintain that

the divine name is in the qal stem.4 A relevant passage in

interpreting the tetragrammaton is Exodus 3:14-15. It has

been pointed out, however, that the usage of hy,h;x, rw,xE hy,h;x,

is not valid since hvhy is a 3ms form of the verb and not

1cs.5 Kosmola recognizes this but remarks that "it is

certainly meant to be an explanation of the name, and it is

 

1 James D. Price, "Ugaritic" (unpublished lecture

notes, Temple Baptist Theological Seminary, 1978); the so-

called Barth-Ginsberg law states that when a appears as the

thematic vowel, the vowel of the preformative in the yqtl

verb form will be i; see Gordon, UT, p. 71, par. 9.9; see

also Cross, "Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs," p. 252,

n. 121; and William Sanford LaSor, Handbook of Biblical

Hebrew (2 vols.: Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans

Publishing Company, 1978), II, 94, par. 27.332.

2 Cross, "Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs,"

p. 252.

3 See an earlier article written by Albright on this

subject, see W. F. Albright, "Contributions to Biblical

Archaeology and Philology," Journal of Biblical Literature,

XLIII:3-4 (1924), 370-78.

4 Abba, "The Divine Name Yahweh," p. 324.

5 E. C. B. Maclaurin, "YHWH: The Origin of the Tetra-

grammaton," Vetus Testamentum, XII:4 (October, 1962), 440.

 


89

the only one we have."1 Another reason why this is in the

qal stem relates to the early vocalization of the qal. Most

scholars agree that this word should be vocalized as Yahweh.

This is attested by several church fathers2 as well as from

the abbreviated forms h.yA and vhyA. If the qal stem was

originally vocalized with qames as the preformative vowel,

this would explain why some have thought that this was in

the hiphil stem. Kosmola has confirmed these observations:

 

It is certain that this reading with an a in the first

syllable goes back to the most ancient times of Israel.

Although we are by no means certain of the early Hebrew

vocalisation, we do know that the first vowel of Qal

impf. was originally a (still preserved in P Guttural

verbs), which would make it quite possible to understand

the name YHWH as the Imperfect of Qal, especially when

we consider the reading Yahweh is very old and that

names tend to preserve their ancient reading.3

 

Therefore, if Exodus 3:14 is a valid testimony4 about the

stem of the divine name and if the vocalization of the

tetragrammaton reflects an ancient form of the qal, hvhy

should be regarded as being in the qal stem.

 

1 Hans Kosmola, "The Name of God (YHWH and Hu'),"

Annual of the Swedish Theological Institute, II (1963), 103;

Arnold has solved the problem, at least for himself, by

suggesting that hy,h;x, rw,xE hy,h;x, does not belong to E but was

added to the completed text of the Pentateuch several hun-

dred years after the middle of the seventh century B.C., see

William R. Arnold, "The Divine Name in Exodus III.14,"

Journal of Biblical Literature, XXIV (1905), 109.

2 See Marvin H. Pope, Job, in The Anchor Bible

(Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1965),

p. XIV, n. 1.

3 Kosmola, "The Name of God (YHWVH and Hu’), " p. 104.

            4 It is not within the scope of this study to discuss

the translation of the phrase "I am that I am" in Exodus

 


90

An Examination of hxAGA

This verb is used seven times in the Old Testament.

Four of the seven usages are found in Exodus 15:1-21. The

basic meaning of the term is "to rise up."1 In Aramaic yxig;

means "to rise, grow" in the peal and in the ithpeal it

means "to boast, be exalted."2 In Syriac it appears in the

pael, aphel and ethpael. In the ethpael it means "to exalt

oneself, be arrogant." It also occurs in Mandean. There

the peal and pael appear only in the active participle. In

the ethpael it means "to be shining, outstanding."3 In

Akkadian ga'um means "to be presumptuous."4 The nouns and

adjectives which have developed from this word carry the

idea of rising, arrogance, or majesty. Egyptian has a term

 

3:14, but there are two excellent articles discussing this:

E. Schild, "On Exodus 3:14--'I am that I am,'" Vetus

Testamentum, IV:3 (July, 1954), 296-304; Bertil Albrektson,

"On the Syntax of hyhx rwx hyhx in Exodus 3: 14, " in Words

and Meanings: Essays Presented to David Winton Thomas, ed.

by Peter R. Ackroyd and Barnabas Lindars (Cambridge:

University Press, 1968), pp. 15-28.

1 Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and C. A. Briggs, eds.,

A Hebrew and English Lexicon to the Old Testament (herein-

after referred to as BDB) (reprinted; Oxford: Clarendon

Press, 1972), p. 144.

2 Marcus Jastrow, comps., A Dictionary of the

Targumin, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic

Literature (hereinafter referred to as Dictionary)            (2 vols.:

New York: P. Shalom Pub., 1967), I, 202.

3 Diether Kellerman, “hxAGA," Theological Dictionary

of the Old Testament, Vol. II, ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck

and Helmer Ringgren, trans. by John T. Willis (rev. ed.;

Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company,

1977), p. 344.

4 Ibid.

 


91

which is parallel to hxAGA, g3y, "to be high." The word also

appears in Cushite gui meaning "to stand up, be exalted." A

biradical root g’ with opposite meanings "to become high or

deep" possibly lies behind these forms. If this is true,

xyiGa, "valley," may have originally been connected with

hxAGA.1 The basic meaning would then be "to be or become

high." This is the sense of the usage in Ezekiel 47:5. In

Job 8:11 it means "to grow." From this developed the meta-

phorical sense of "pride," on the negative side, and

"exaltation," on the positive side. This word has the

nuance of exaltation in Job 10:16. This same idea is found

in the four places it is used in Exodus 15:1-21.

 

A Possible Anachronism Obk;ro?

A statement of the problem

The participle Obkro is derived from the verb

The verb means to "mount and ride, ride."2 BDB has sug-

gested that the substantive usage of the participle is

"rider."3 This word has commonly been understood as meaning

to ride horseback as in the calvary.4 This significance of

the word is reflected in the translation of the LXX, V, Old

Latin,5 and Syro-Hexaplar.6 If this is the proper

 

1 Ibid. , p. 34.5.          2 BDB, p. 938.           3 Ibid.

4 Keil and Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, II, 56.

5 Hereinafter referred to as L.

6 Hereinafter referred to as Sh; see Cross and

Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 243, n. 2.

 


92

understanding of the term, this is possibly an anachronism

for the calvary was not introduced into the ancient Near

East until the twelfth century B.C. by the Indo-Europeans.1

 

Solutions to the problem

Vowel points of  Obk;ro should be emended

There are two possible solutions to this problem.

Haupt has suggested that the vowel pointing of Obk;ro be

changed to bk,r,.2 To verify this point, Haupt has observed

that the Greek word a!rma, "chariot,"3 is in the margin of a

Greek manuscript.4 This marginal note may only indicate

that the translator wanted to clarify the meaning of this

word which he evidently thought was nebulous. Another

possible corroboration is the usage of bk,r, in Exodus 14:9

and 15:19. This may possibly suggest that there should be a

change in the vowel points. This should not be a problem

for a conservative interpreter since the vowel pointing is a

subsequent addition to the consonantal text. He should never-

theless be cautious in emending the vowel points for they do

 

1 William Foxwell Albright, Archaeology and the

Religion of Israel (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1942),

p. 213, n. 25.

2 Haupt, "Moses' Song of Triumph," p. 158.

3 Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, comps.,

A Greek-English Lexicon (9th rev. ed.; Oxford: C larendon

Press, 1940; reprint ed.: Henry Stuart Jones, 1968),

p. 242.

4 Haupt, "Moses' Song of Triumph," p. 158.

 


93

preserve Masoretic tradition.

Obk;ro should be understood as "charioteer"

There seems to be a more preferable alternative. It

has been suggested that originally bkarA meant to "mount" and

it was used in reference to either a vehicle or an animal.1

The participle bkero should thus be understood as "charioteer"

in Exodus 15:1.2 This is further supported by the last half

of verse 21 in Jeremiah 51 where the context clearly demands

that Obk;ro be understood as charioteer. Therefore, if

Albright's conclusions are valid, the conclusion that Obk;ro

means charioteer in Exodus 15:1 certainly appears to be

legitimate.

 

Strophe 1

Strophe 1 is comprised of verses 2-5. This strophe

has two sections: the hymnic confession in verses 2-3 and

the historical narrative in verses 4-5. The interpretative

problems will be examined in each section respectively.

 

Hymnic Confession

A philological treatment of trAm;ziv; yzifA

yzifA

There are a number of different suggestions about

the root from which this noun is derived. BDB has indicated

 

1 KB, p. 891.

2 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 243,

n. 2.

 


94

that this word should be rendered as "strength, might" and

they relate it to the root zzafA.1  KB have rendered this as

"protection, refuge" and they trace it to the verb zUf "take

refuge, bring into safety." This would then be cognate with

Arabic           2 "take refuge, seek protection."3 Barr has

related this to another Arabic word gazi, "warrior," which

comes from gaza, "'go forth to war."4 This would then be

related to a hypothetical Hebrew root hzAfA.5 It might be

possible to defend any of these suggestions since they fall

within a general semantic range of meaning which could fit

the motif of war in the immediate context of Exodus 15.

Since Ugaritic is a Northwest Semitic language and since its

dates are approximately contemporary with the composition

of Exodus 15, Ugaritic parallels would take precedence over

Arabic which is a Southwest Semitic language and it is much

latter historically than Hebrew. Ugaritic parallels would

presently support the suggestion that zfA would have been

 

1 BDB, p. 738.

2 KB, p. 687.

3 BDB, p. '731; the LXX may allow for this because it

translates this phrase as bohqo>j kai> skepasth<j, "a helper

and a shelter"; but the Targum of Onkelos as well as the V

do not follow the LXX.

4 Barr, Comparative Philology, p. 29.

5 D. Winton Thomas, "A Note on Exodus XV.2,"

Expository Times, XLVIII (1936-37), 478.

 


95

derived from the root zzafA.1

 

trAm;zi

This word is translated "song" in the King James

Version,2 Revised Standard Version,3 New American Standard

Bible, Jerusalem Bible,5 and New International Version.6

It has been translated "defense" in the New English Bible.7

Cross and Freedman have translated it as "protection."8

These two alternatives will presently be examined.

Song or praise. --Loewenstamm has translated trAm;zi as

“praise" or "glory."9 In order to justify this translation,

Loewenstamm has attempted to refute the idea that hrAm;zi

represents two different proto-semitic roots: zmr, "to

sing, play an instrument," and dmr, "strength" or even

 

1 Samuel E. Loewenstamm, "The Lord Is My Strength

and My Glory," Vetus Testamentum, XIX:4 (October, 1969),

468-69; cf. Gordon, UT, p. 455, par. 1835.

2 Hereinafter referred to as KJV.

3 Hereinafter referred to as RSV.

4  Hereinafter referred to as NASB.

5 Hereinafter referred to as JB.

6 Hereinafter referred to as NIV.

7 Hereinafter referred to as NEB.

8 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 243,

n. b.

9 Loewenstamm, "The Lord Is My Strength and My

Glory," pp. 467-68.

 


96

"protection."1 He has three reasons for rejecting this.

First, the evidence supporting two different proto-semitic

roots is supposedly not conclusive. The contention that

there is a proto-semitic root zmr is based upon Ugaritic

zmr. This is very speculative.2 KB have adduced a Ugaritic

root zmr to verify their rendering of this as "to sing, play

an instrument." They recognize, however, that this is

questionable.3 Another proof for a proto-semitic root zmr

is taken from Arabic zmr. This may however have been bor-

rowed from Hebrew or Canaanite.4 Loewenstamm is attempting

to prove that Hebrew rmazA is not related to a proto-semitic

zmr meaning "to sing, play an instrument."

His second reason for rejecting this contention that

hrAm;zi represents two different proto-semitic roots is that

there is an Ugaritic verb dmr which is tantamount to Hebrew

rmazA, "to sing, play an instrument." Loewenstamm views

Ugaritic text RS 24.252 as a hymn addressed to El and as

describing Ugarit. Lines 3-4 read: dysr wydmr bknr wtlb

btp wmsltm, "who sings and plays upon harp . . . upon tim-

brel and cymbals."5 Ugaritic syr and dmr have a strong

 

1 Ibid., pp. 464-65.                2 Ibid., p. 465.

3 KB, p. 259.

4 Loewenstamm, "The Lord Is My Strength and My

Glory," p. 465.

5 Ibid.

 


97

similarity with Hebrew rywi and rmazA. From this Loewenstamm

has concluded that Hebrew rmazA is identical with Ugaritic

dmr.1

His third reason for rejecting this is that the wide

distribution of dmr, "protect," is not able to be corrob-

orated. One of the proofs for rmazA meaning "protection" is

that it appears with zfA "strength." Loewenstamm then tries

to demonstrate that there is a valid connection between zfA,

"strength," and hrAm;zi, "praise." Since it had already been

proven in RS 24.252 that dmr had the meaning "to play a

musical instrument," it should follow that the usage of the

noun dmr in line 9 should have a similar meaning. The noun

‘z is used with dmr in line 9.2 Loewenstamm concludes then

that there is a connection between ‘z "strength" and dmr

"praise." This connection between the parallel terms is

further confirmed by Psalm 59:18 hrAm.ezaxE j~yl,xe yzifu, "My

strength I sing to thee. " The verb rmazA, "to sing" is

closely connected with the noun zfA. Loewenstamm then

defines hrAm;zi as "the praise of God in cultic music."3 This

definition is supported by Psalms 81:3, 98:5, Isaiah 51:3,

and Amos 5:23. What then is the connection between zfA and

hrAm;zi? Loewenstamm answers, "The God to whom zfA is given

 

1 Ibid., p. 466; Loewenstammm recognizes that there is

a possibility of two homonymous roots derived from the

proto-semitic root dmr.

2 Ibid., p. 467.                        3 Ibid.

 


98

in the cult, gives zf to those who sing in His praise."1

Protection or defense.--A legitimate alternative to

the translation of hrAm;zi as "song" or "praise" is to trans-

late it as "defense" or "protection."2 There are four

reasons for this translation. First, the problem in inter-

preting verse 2 does not focus only on the first colon, but

the bicolon of which it is a constituent part. This is

significant when it is considered that the bicolon is the

basic unity in Hebrew poetical verse and that this bicolon

appears three times in the three contexts: Exodus 15:2,

Psalm 118:14, and Isaiah 12:2.3 The text reads:

            h.yA trAm;ziv; yzifA

       hfAUwyli yli-yhiy;va

Yahweh is three things to the author:  yzifA, trAm;zi, and

hfAUwy;.  This would tend to exclude the idea that trAm;zi

means "song" or even "praise." The reason for this is that

one would expect trAm;zi to have a meaning in a general

 

1 Ibid., p. 468.

2 T. H. Gaster, "Notes on 'The Song of the Sea'

(Exodus XV)," Expository Times, XLVIII (1936-37), 45; it is

also attested in the Samaritan Ostraca, see Barr, Comparative

Philology, p. 182; see also Herbert B. Huffmon, Amorite

Personal Names in the Mari Texts: A Structural and Lexical

Study (hereinafter referred to as Amorite Personal Names in

the Mari Texts) (Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1965),

pp. 187-88.

3 Simon B. Parker, "Exodus XV 2 Again," Vetus

Testamentum, XXI:3 (July, 1971), 376.

 


99

semantic range with yzifA and hfAUwy;.1

Another reason confirming a translation of trAm;zi as

"protection" is a syntactical consideration. Some examples

should be observed where one colon has a synonymous pair of

words joined by waw and this is followed by a parallel colon

with another synonym.2 In Psalm 46:2 zfovA hs,HEma appears in

the first colon and the parallel colon has a further synonym

hrAz;f,. Two synonyms are found in the first colon of Genesis

3:18 rDar;dav; COq. The synonym hd,WA.ha bw,fe is found in the par-

allel colon. In Isaiah 60:18 smAHA is parallel with rb,w,v; dwo.

In Job 3:5 tv,mAl;cav; j`w,Ho is parallel with hnAnAfE. In Job 30:19

rm,Ho is parallel with rp,xevA rpAfA. This would suggest that

trAm;zi is within the same semantic field as zfA and hfAUwy;.

A third reason for this translation is taken from

Ugaritic text RS 24.252. Loewenstamm's interpretation of

line 3 appears to be correct,3 but his interpretation of

line 9 is problematic. This appears to be a prayer and not

a hymn4 that Ugarit would eternally share the attributes of

Rapi’u. The sequence of nouns is then a list of the

attribures of Rapi'u. Line 9 is addressed to lr(pi/u) ars.

The remainder of nouns in lines 9-10 read: ‘zk dmrk (10)

l(i)ak htkk nmrtk, "your strength, your protective force,

 

1 Ibid.                          2 Ibid.

3 Ibid., p. 3, n. 5.

4 Loewenstamm, "The Lord Is My Strength and My

Glory," p. 4.66.

 


100

your 1 . . . , your authority, your divine power.”1  It

would appear that a rendering of "protection" or “protective

force” would concatenate with this list of attributes better

than "praise" or "glory."

There is a fourth reason for this rendering of trAm;zi.

Since zfA is in juxtaposition with trAm;zi in Ugaritic and

Hebrew, this pair should be recognized as a fixed pair.2

This would indicate that the poets in Ugarit and Israel had

a common cultural setting from which they drew fixed pairs.

Gevirtz has recognized this with the following statement:

 

The poets of ancient Syria and Palestine had at their

command a body of conventionally fixed pairs of words

upon which they might freely draw in the construction

of their literary compositions.

 

Dahood prefers the usage of "parallel pairs" for the expres-

sion "fixed pairs" has wrongly been interpreted as a fixed

sequence.4 A parallel pair may be used "in the same colon

 

1 Parker, "Exodus XV 2 Again," p. 378,

2 This was a term coined by Ginsberg in 1936; see

H. L. Ginsberg, "The Rebellion and Death of Ba’lu,"

Orientalia, V (1936), 176-80.

3 Stanley Gevirtz, Patterns in the Early Poetry of

Israel, Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization, no. 32

(2nd ed.; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1973), p. 3.

4 Mitchell Dahood, "Ugaritic-Hebrew Parallel Pairs,"

Ras Shamra Parallels: The Texts from Ugarit and the Hebrew

Bible, Vol. I, Analecta Orientalia, 49, ed. by Loren R.

Fisher (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1972), pp. 77-

78; Gevirtz has given a list of fixed pairs and has noted

their sequence in Ugaritic and in Hebrew, see Stanley

Gevirtz, "The Ugaritic Parallel to Jeremiah 8:23," Journal

of Near Eastern Studies, XX:1 (January, 1961), 41-46; this

article by Gevirtz and his insistence on a fixed sequence

 

 

 

                                                                                                            101

or in the respective clauses of a bicolon."1 The signifi-

cance of parallel pairs is that the terms are synonymous.2

This is especially beneficial when the etymology of one of

the terms in a fixed pair has been regarded as doubtful.3

This is helpful with trAm;ziv; yzifA for if this is a parallel

pair4 trAm;zi must be synonymous with yzifA. This would

exclude a translation of "song," "praise," or "glory."

Therefore, the best translation of trAm;zi would be "protec-

tion" or “defense.”5

Hendiadys.--The word hendiadys is made up of three

Greek words which literally mean "one through two." The

 

motivated Craigie to question the value of fixed pairs since

in Hebrew the order will be reversed at times; Craigie's

reaction was based upon outdated material, see P. C.

Craigie, "A Note on 'Fixed Pairs' in Ugaritic and Early

Hebrew Poetry," Journal of Theological Studies, XXII:2

(April, 1971), 140-43; since Craigie's reactions are not

based upon current literature on this subject, his conclu-

sions must remain suspect; in this study the criterion which

will be followed for determining whether a pair of terms is

a legitimate fixed pair is that the terms must be truly par-

allel in either Hebrew or Ugaritic; the pair must be paral-

lel in one dialect and in the other it may be "strictly par-

allel," in juxtaposition, or in collocation; see Dahood,

"Ugaritic-Hebrew Parallel Pairs," pp. 86-87.

1 Ibid., p. 73.              2 Ibid., p. 74.

3 Ibid „ p. 83.              4 Ibid., p. 291, par. 414.

5 It would appear in light of this and Loewenstamm's

discussion that Ugaritic text RS 24.252 has two homonyms for

dmr; line 3 has dmr, "to play an instrument," and line 9 has

dmr, "protection." This would suggest that there were

two proto-semitic homonyms for dmr: one meaning "to sing,

to play an instrument" and the other meaning "to protect";

both of these appeared in Hebrew as two homonymsrmazA.

 


102

definition of Speiser is germane:

 

This is a method where by two formally co-ordinate

terms--verbs, nouns, or adjectives--joined by 'and'

express a single concept in which one of the components

defines the other.1

 

There is an example of this even in colloquial English "I am

good and mad." This statement should be interpreted as "I

am very angry."2 Hebrew has many examples of this. A few

of these are the following: Genesis 1:2, UhbovA UhTo, "a

formless void"; Job 4.0:10, rdAhAv; dOH, "glorious splendor";

and Job 10:21, tv,mAl;cav; jw,Ho, "blackest darkness."3 It has

been suggested that the fixed pair trAm;ziv; yzifA  be understood

as an hendiadys.4 Good has also recognized this as an

hendiadys and has consequently translated it "my singing

about strength."5 Since it has been suggested that trAm;zi

does not mean "song" or "praise," Good's suggestion will

need to be modified. A better translation would be "strong

protection" or "protective strength."6

 

1 E. A. Speiser, Genesis, in The Anchor Bible (Garden

City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1964•), p. LXX.

2 Ibid.

            3 Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline, p. 16,

par. 72.

            4 B. Margulis, "A Ugaritic Psalm (RS 24.252),"

Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXIX:3 (September, 1970),

296.

5 Edwin M. Good, "Exodus XV 2," Vetus Testamentum,

XX:3 (July, 1970), 3.58.

            6 Parker, "Exodus XV 2 Again," p. 377, n. 2.


103

The textual ambivalence of Hebrew consonants

The textual problem

In Exodus 15:2 the noun trAm;zi presents a textual

problem. The Sam. and V add the 1cs pronominal suffix.1 The

LXX and S, however, agree with the reading in the MT which

does not have the 1cs pronominal suffix. A possible reason

for the omission of this suffix is that the latter reflects

early Hebrew orthography. Another alternative is that this

may be an example of haplography.2

 

A solution to the textual problem

This is possibly an example of what Lehman has

labeled "the textual ambivalence of Hebrew consonants."3

This principle indicates that a consonant may be associated

with the word preceding and following it. This apparently

was not recognized by Masoretic scribes. Two examples will

demonstrate this principle. The first is found in 2 Samuel

5:2, xycOm._ htAyyihA. The Masoretic tradition reflects the

problem. If this principle is correct, the final he on

htAyyIhA also serves as the definite article for xycOm._.

 

1 Felix Perles, "Miscellany of Lexical and Textual

Notes on the Bible," Jewish Quarterly Review, II (1911-12),

115, n. 41; Perles suggested that the text should be read

h/ytrmz with h functioning as an abbreviated form of the

tetragrammaton.

2 S. Talmon, "A Case of Abbreviation Resulting in

Double Readings," Vetus Testamentum, IV:2 (April, 1954),

206-8.

3 Lehman, "A Forgotten Principle of Biblical Textual

Tradition Rediscovered," p. 93.


104

A second example is found in 2 Samuel 21:12 which

reads: MyTiw;liP;h MA.wA.  The initial he on MyTiw;liP;h serves both

as the definite article and also as the locative he for M.AwA.

This may affect the interpreter's understanding of hy.A trAm;zi

in Exodus 15:2. It is possible that yod not only served as

the initial letter in the divine name but it performs

another function by serving as the 1cs pronominal suffix for

the preceding word.1 This would demonstrate that this is

not an example of haplography. This may also explain why

the Sam. and V have this pronominal suffix. These versions

have preserved an early tradition which antedates that which

is preserved in the MT.

 

The early orthography of hy,

The LXX has deleted hy from verse 2. This should

not raise a problem concerning the authenticity of its pres-

ence in the MT. Cross and Freedman have suggested that hy

should be understood as vhy.2 The abbreviated form of the

divine name is followed by vhyv. In the early orthography

yhyv and hy would not have been separated. Cross and

Freedman's suggestion is that the division between the two

words should be after v and not before it. Their reason

 

1 Ibid., p. 98.

2 Frank Moore Cross, Jr. and David Noel Freedman,

Studies in Ancient Yahwistic Poetry, Society of Biblical

Literature Dissertation Series, no. 21 (Missoula, Montana:

Scholars Press for Society of Biblical Literature, 1950),

p. 55, n. c.


105

for this is that vhy reflects early orthography which might

be expected in Exodus 15.1 Of course this does not present

a problem for a conservative since none of the consonants

have been affected.

The abbreviated hy, should nevertheless be preferred

for poetical reasons. The use of this monosyllable causes

the repeated Yahweh at the end of verse 3 to be very impres-

sive.2 In the hymnic confession the divine name appears to

be written in a climactic progression: Yah, my God, God of

my father, Yahweh, Yahweh.3 The preservation of hy as it

appears in the MT, should be preferred.

 

The usage of synonymous parallelism in problem solving

Ugaritic poetry

            The fundamental feature of Ugaritic poetry is that

the meaning will be repeated in parallel form.4      These

examples will demonstrate this. II Aqht VI:27-28 reads:

 

irs hym watnk5          "Ask for life and I'll give it to you

blmt waslhk               for immortality, and I'll bestow it on

                                                you.”6

 

            1 Ibid.

2 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"

p. 24.0, n. 1.

3 Ibid.

4 Gordon, UT, p. 131, par. 13.108.

5 Ibid., p. 248.

6 Kenneth L. Barker, "The Value of Ugaritic for Old

Testament Studies," Bibliotheca Sacra, 133:530 (April-June,

1976), 126.


106

Another example is found in I Aqht 117:

in smt              "there is not fat

in ‘zm             there is no bone."1

 

A final example is Krt 131-33:

wng mlk lbty              “and depart king from my house;

rhq krt lhzry              be distant, Krt, from my court."2

 

The synonymous parallelism is obvious in these texts. This

appears to be a characteristic of Canaanite poetry.

 

Hebrew poetry

This also is a characteristic of Hebrew poetry. If

two lines are an example of synonymous parallelism and the

meaning of one term is problematic, a general semantic range

of meaning can be established for the problematic term

because of the parallelism. The parallelism in the last

half of verse 2 should be observed:

            Uhven;xav; ylixe hz,

     Uhn;m,m;roxEva ybixA yhelox,

 

The verb hvn has been translated in various ways. KJV has

rendered it as "I will prepare him an habitation." This is

supported by the Targum of Onkelos.4 This translation in the

T° seems to reflect that the translator had regarded Hvn as

 

1 Gordon, UT, p. 131, par. 13.108.

2 Ibid., p. 132, par. 13.108.

3 Muilenburg, "Poetry," pp. 673-74.

4 Hereinafter referred to as T°.


107

a denominative verb.1 Another translation of this is "I

will praise Him." This translation is supported by the Sam.

and LXX. Most modern versions essentially translate it in

this manner.2 Since hvAnA is parallel with MUr "to be high,

exalted, rise,"3 a general semantic range of meaning has

been established and this rules out the translation of T°.

 

The etymology of hvAnA

Since a general semantic range of meaning is clear

because of the parallelism, the interpreter should then

consider the possible meanings for the term. The verb hvAnA

has been regarded as a hapax legomena. This verb has a

homonym which is regarded as a denominative verb from hv,nA

"abode of shepherd or flocks ."4 Albright has related this

word to Arabic nwy, Ethiopic newa, Ugaritic nwyt, "settle-

ment," Mari nawum, Hebrew hv,nA "pastoral or nomadic abode,"

and hvAnA "range, pasture."5 He has suggested that these

forms are derived from a general root meaning "to aim at."

The word then developed in two directions: "to look or gaze

 

1 See Samson Raphael Hirsch, The Pentateuch Trans-

lated and Explained, Vol. II, trans. by Issac Lery (2nd ed.;

New York: Judaica Press, 1971), p. 189.

2 See NASB, NEB, RSV, JB, and NIV.

3 BDB, p. 926.

4 Ibid., p. 627.

5 Cross and Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic

Poetry, p. 56, n. e.


108

ardently at" and "to reach or settle." The hiphil stem,

which is found in verse 2, would then be translated "I will

cause him to be the object of ardent gazing" or more simply

"I will admire him."1 Whether or not Albright's suggestion

about the etymological background of this term is accepted

is not essential. The salient point is that his conclusions

must be accepted because of the synonymous parallelism.

 

The metrical imbalance in verse 2

Since this same bicolon has a metrical imbalance,

Cross and Freedman have suggested that Uhven;xEva be transposed

with Uhn;m,m;roxEva.2 They have indicated that this is a common

scribal error which is highly probable since both words

begin and end exactly alike.3 Freedman has more recently

corrected himself with the following words:

 

It would have been a simple matter to switch the verbs

of the two cola and produce an exact syllabic balance

(9:9); but presumably the poet preferred to overbalance

the bicolon as in the preserved text . . . . Since the

text makes good sense and poetic parallelism is main-

tained, we should assume that the pattern is deliberate,

and that the poet (presumably for melodic or rhythmic

reasons) chose a 7:11 pattern against the normal or

expected 9:9. That an unbalanced bicolon is a legit-

imate variation of the normal balanced variety can be

established from the corpus of early Israelite poetry.4

 

1 Ibid.              2 Ibid.

3 Ibid.

4 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 177.


109

The textual problem with hmAHAl;mi wyxi

There is a textual problem with hmAHAl;mi wyxi. The Sam.

reads: hmAHAl;miB; rObG;. This is followed in part by the LXX

which reads suntri<bwn pole<mouj and the S                        “a

warrior and a man of war." There were possibly two ancient

variants: rOBGi hvhy and hmAHAl;mi wyxi hvhy. The latter is

represented by the MT. The former is represented by the

more or less corrupt conflations of the other versions.1

Since the Sam. and LXX agree against the MT, they attest to

an ancient Palestinian recension as early as the fifth cen-

tury B.C.2 This is however no reason to emend the MT for it

represents the "main current" of tradition. As Battenfield

has succinctly stated:

 

Though other families of text types have come to light

in recent generations, the proto-Masoretic is as old

as any, and has a long worthy tradition behind it.3

 

Although the Sam. and LXX reflect an old Palestinian recen-

sion, the reading of the MT is still to be preferred.

 

1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 244,

2 Bruce K. Waltke, "The Samaritan Pentateuch and the

Text of the Old Testament," in New Perspectives on the Old

Testament, ed. by J. Barton Payne (Waco, Texas: Word Books,

1970), p . 234.

3 James R. Battenfield, "Hebrew Stylistic Development

in Archaic Poetry: A Text-Critical and Exegetical Study of

the Blessing of Jacob, Genesis 49:1-27" (unpublished Th. D.

dissertation, Grace Theological Seminary, 1976), p. 135.

par. 4.


110

The theological problem with hmAHAl;mi wyxi hvhy

It has been suggested that the phrase hmAHAl;mi wyxi hvhy

be understood as a war cry.1 Whether or not this statement

is accurate, it is not readily discernible. The description

of Yahweh as a warrior has also raised a theological ques-

tion for some because war appears to be contrary to the

character of the God of the New Testament. How could

Yahweh, therefore, use Israel to execute judgment upon her

enemies?2 Tomes has indicated that it is questionable that

God would identify Himself with one group of people and not

another, and that He would spare one nation and destroy

another.3 His solution to the problem is that "God Himself

has proportioned his revelation according to our developing

capacity to receive it."4 There appears to be a better

alternative as Miller has observed:

 

Following Calvin's lead, Reformed theology has taken the

sovereignty of God as the central tenet of its creed.

But perhaps, more than Calvin, the Old Testament sees

 

1 P. C. Craigie, "The Song of Deborah and the Epic of

Tukulti-Niurta," Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXVIII:3

(September, 1969), 258; see also Craigie, "Psalm XXIX in the

Hebrew Poetic Tradition," Vetus Testamentum, XXII:2 (April,

1972), 146.

2 P. C. Craigie, "Yahweh Is a Man of War," Scottish

Journal of Theology, 22:2 (June, 1969), 183.

3 Roger Tomes, "Exodus 14: The Mighty Acts of God,"

Scottish Journal of Theology, 22:4 (December, 1969), 465-66.

4 Ibid., p. 473.


111

the theme not merely, as a theological affirmation but as

the very pivot upon which the life of the disciple

should revolve.1

 

            Historical Narrative

 

The matres lectionis for the final vowel o

Cross and Freedman have pointed out that the final

he in verse 4 is a matres lectionis. After the tenth

century B.C., final he was used quite often as a final vowel

letter to represent a final a or o.2 The usage of final he

as a matres lectionis probably developed from a consonantal

he following a. This usage of he occurred on forms ending

with a feminine suffix, words with the directive he, verbs

ending with final he, and forms such as the interrogative

hm. The final he became quiescent and when it was retained

in the spelling it became a matres lectionis. This usage of

final he then extended to all usages of final a then to

final o and e.3

An example of this is found in the Mesha Stone

 

1 Patrick D. Miller, Jr., "God the Warrior,"

Interpretation, XIX:1 (January, 1965), 46.

2 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," pp. 244-

45, par. 5.

3 Ibid., see also Cross and Freedman, Early Hebrew

Orthography; it is interesting to observe that Ugaritic at

an earlier period of time apparently used final y as a

matres lectionis, see Gordon UT, p. 95, par. 10.4, the

preposition b has 1cs pronominal suffix by; p. 101, par.

10.14, preposition ‘m has lcs pronominal suffix ‘my; p. 107,

n. 1, the conjunction k appears with the variant spelling

ky in some prose sources.


112

(ca. 835 B.C.). The word nbh should be read "Nebo."1 An

example is also found in the Siloam Inscription. The word

hnqbh literally means "its being tunneled through." The

final he apparently is a final vowel letter for o.2 The

Lachish Letters have the word ‘bdh, "his servant," which

might be vocalized ‘abdo.3 The Old Testament has such

familiar examples as: hmolow;, "Solomon"; hkoOW, "Socoh"; 4

hlowi, "Shiloh"; and hHoyriy;, "Jericho." Other examples are

available, but these demonstrate that the final he was a

matres lectionis for the final vowel o.

 

Should OlyHe be deleted for metrical reasons?

Kittel has suggested that OlyHe, "army," should be

deleted from the text for metrical reasons.5 There are two

reasons why this word should not be excised from the text.

It has been argued that the presence of OlyHe creates a

metrical imbalance. According to the stress system of anal-

ysis there is a discrepancy between bicola 4a and 4b of 5/4.

This analysis does not appear to be significant when it is

 

1 Ibid., p. 40, par. 40.            2 Ibid., p. 49, par. 23.

3 Ibid., p. 53, par. 53.

4 See H. L. Ginsberg, "MMST and MSH," Bulletin of the

American Schools for Oriental Research, 109 (February, 1948),

pp. 20-21.

5 See the critical appartus of Rudolph Kittel, ed.,

Biblia Hebraica (editio duodecima emendata; Stuttgart:

Wurtembergische Bibelanstalt, 1961).


113

observed that there is a parallelism of content between the

two bicola for 4a has five content words as does 4b.1  There

is another reason why OlyHe should not be excised from the

first colon of verse 4. There is absolutely no textual sup-

port for this emendation. It must be concluded that OlyHe

rather than being otiose, is a necessity and a genuine part

of verse 4.

 

A philological treatment of  vywAliwA

The etymological background of  vywliwA in Exodus 15:4

is still an enigma. The problem focuses on what is the

relationship between wlwA, "three," and wyliwA, "officer" or

"troops"? In order to answer this question, it will be

necessary to examine some of the cognate languages.

 

Cognate languages

            Hittite.--Bender has argued that since Egyptian

chariots carried only two men and since this word implies

three men, this must indicate a Hittite custom.2 Cowley has

suggested that the Hebrew word may be related to a Hittite

word sal-li-is which indicated a high military position.3

 

1 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 179.

2 Bender, "Das Lied Exodus 15," p. 19-

3 A. Cowley, "A Hittite Word in Hebrew," The Journal

of Theological Studies, XXI (1920), pp. 326-27.


114

Ugaritic.--Gordon has however indicated that this

word may refer to three horses instead of three men. The

Ugaritic phrase under consideration is the phrase tltm sswm

mrkbt. Gordon has translated this phrase "three horses and

a chariot."1 Sukenik has clearly demonstrated that chariots

were pulled by teams of three horses: two horses and one

horse for reserve.2 In light of Gordon and Sukenik's obser-

vations, Cross and Freedman have translated this word as

"troops."3 This word possibly became used in reference to

the charioteers of the chariots with three horses. It sub-

sequently was used in a more general sense of "troops" or

"officers." Because of Exodus 14:7, it appears that the

nuance of "officer," in this context, is primarily in vogue.

Egyptian.--Craigie has offered another alternative

as a solution to this problem.4 In order to represent

Craigie’s suggestion, the phrase vywAliwA rHab;mi needs to be

examined. Yahuda has stated that the Egyptian phrase

 

1 Cyrus H. Gordon, review of Ancient Near Eastern

Texts (Relating to the Old Testament), ed. by James B.

Pritchard, in Journal of Biblical Literature, LXX (1951),

p. 160; see also G. R. Driver, Canaanite Myths and Legends,

Old Testament Studies, no. 3 (Edinburgh: T and T Clark,

1956), p. 31, section III, line 24.

2 Yigael Sukenik, "Note on tlt sswm in the Legend of

Keret," Journal of Cuneiform Studies, II (1948), 11.

3 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 245,

n. 8; cf. with their translation on p. 241.

4 P. C. Craigie, "An Egyptian Expression in the Song

of the Sea (Exodus XV 4)," Vetus Testamentum, XX:1 (January,

1970), 83-86.


115

stp.w "the choicest of" is tantamount to rHab;mi.1 The noun

vywAliwA is possibly a nominal adaption of the Egyptian srs,2

"to have command of (a corps)."3 Hebrew l is equivalent to

Egyptian. Gardiner has stated that the Egyptian r "corre-

sponds to the Hebrew r resh, more rarely to the Hebrew

lamdedh."4 Egyptian s is also brought over into Hebrew as

w. An example of this is bwaHA which corresponds to Egyp-

tian hsb.5 Craigie has maintained that this argument is

convincing in the light of the Egyptian subject matter in

this line.6

 

Guidelines for using cognate languages

The usage of comparative philology needs to have

certain guidelines in order to avoid abuse. Fensham has set

forth four principles to serve as guidelines in using

 

1 Yahuda, The Language of the Pentateuch in Its

Relation to Egypt, p. 79; see also the discussion of this

term in relation to Egyptian stp by Jan Bergman and Helmer

Ringgren, "rHaBA," Theological Dictionary of the Old Testa-

ment, Vol. II, rev. and ed. by G. Johannes Botterweck and

Helmer Ringgren, trans. by John T. Willis (rev. ed.; Grand

Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1977),

p. 73.

2 Craigie, "An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the

Sea (Exodus XV 4)," p. 85.

3 R. 0. Faulkner, A Concise Dictionary of Middle

Egyptian (reprint ed.; Oxford: Griffith Institute, 1972),

p. 237.

4 Craigie, "An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the

Sea (Exodus XV 4)," p. 85.

5 Ibid.


116

comparative philology for Ugaritic. These have been adapted

in this thesis for usage with Hebrew. First, the most

important principle is to use a Northwest Semitic language

such as Ugaritic, Aramaic, Phoenician, and Amorite. Second,

if the first step has no results, the interpreter should use

the East Semitic language of Akkadian. Third, the inter-

preter should use Arabic, South Arabic, and Ethiopic only

when steps one and two are unfruitful. Finally, the least

important principle is the usage of Hurrian, Egyptian, and

Hittite.1

 

Cautions and Conclusions

In light of these guidelines, it would appear that

the usage of Hittite and Egyptian does not offer the best

explanation of the etymological background of wyliwA. Since

the Hebrews had cultural contact with Egypt, in particular

430 years of dwelling in the land of Goshen, this would

indicate that Craigie's suggestion may have some merit.

Some cautions need to be considered. It would appear that

if one is able to establish that a phrase in one language

is used in another language, this would suggest a higher

degree of correspondence than for a word. It does not

appear that there is a valid correlation between the Egyp-

tian phrase stp.w.srs and the Hebrew phrase vywAliwA rHab;mi.

 

1 F.C. Fensham, "Remarks on Certain Difficult

Passages in Keret," Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages,

I (1971), 11-14.


117

Craigie has proven that stp.w and srs are used in Egyptian,

but he did not prove that this was a phrase used in Hebrew.

Another caution pertains to whether or not wliwA is a nominal

adaption of srs. Gardiner stated that the Egyptian r rarely

corresponds to Hebrew l.1 Craigie has assumed that this

rare correspondence has occurred here. More evidence is

needed to prove this correspondence. A third caution should

be contemplated. Does this suggestion offer a more plau-

sible explanation than Ugaritic? If there is a viable

explanation from a Northwest Semitic language such as is

the case with Ugaritic, is it necessary to use a language

for comparative purposes which is remote and does not offer

as viable an option? The most plausible explanation, there-

fore, would be the one available from Ugaritic.

 

Should the vowel pointing of UfB;Fu be emended?

The MT has preserved the reading UfB;Fu but this is

not supported by the LXX and S which have preserved the read-

ing fBaFi. The S often follows the MT, but this does not rule

out the influence of the LXX upon the S. Thus, when the S

agrees with the LXX against the MT, then "the twofold witness

has no more value than that of the Septuagint alone."2 In

the original consonantal text, there would not have been any

 

1 Gardiner, Egyptian Grammar, p. 27.

2 Ernst Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament: An

Introduction to Kittel-Kahle's Biblia Hebraica (hereinafter

referred to as The Text of the Old Testament), trans. by

Peter R. Ackroyd (New York: Macmillan Company, 1957), p. 60.


118

any difference between UfB;Fu and fBaFi.1 Either form in this

context would make good sense: they were cast or He cast.

However, even though the vowel pointing does not have the

same authority as the consonants, nevertheless the reading

of the MT is to be preferred. The comments of Wurthwein

reflect this preferrence:

 

The pointing does not have the same authority as the

consonantal text. This is a matter to bear in mind in

textual criticism. At the same time it must be remem-

bered that the Masoretes did not follow their own ideas

in vocalising the text, but endeavoured to express

exactly the tradition they had received.2

 

The translation of JUs-Mya 

Various translations

The translation of JUs-Mya as the Red Sea originated

from the reading in the LXX: h[   ]Eruqrh>  qa<lassa. This

translation was followed by the V, in mari rubro "in the Red

Sea." The translation of the Old Latin Version, however,

followed the MT with these words: in mare algosum "in the

Sea of Reeds." The different translators of the LXX did not

know how to handle this phrase for in Judges 11:16 the same

phrase was translated e!wj qala<sshj Si<f.  The translator of

Judges evidently thought of JUs as a proper name and

attempted to transliterate it as Sif.3 Most lexicographers

 

1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 245,

n. 9.

2 Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, p. 20.

3 John Robert Towers, "The Red Sea," Journal of Near

Eastern Studies, XVIII:2 (April, 1958), 150.


119

indicate that JUs is a loan word from Egyptian twf1 which

means "papyrus, papyrus-marshes.”2 "Rushes" or “reeds” is

the suggested meaning by BDB.3

 

The sea over there

Snaith has rendered this phrase as "the sea over

there."4 He has interpreted this phrase in this manner on

account of its various usages. This phrase was used to

refer to the Red Sea, the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean,

the Persian Gulf, and it was used in reference to "remote

and unknown places."5 It is from this that Snaith has con-

cluded that "the phrase thus means 'the sea over there,' as

the speaker pointed vaguely in a southerly direction."6

 

World beyond

A rather radical interpretation of this phrase is

the interpretation of Towers. He understands this as a

 

1 BDB, p. 693; see also KB, p. 652.

2 K. A. Kitchen, "Red Sea," Zondervan Pictorial

Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. by Merrill C. Tenney (5

vols.: Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975),

v, 46.

3 BDB, p. 693; "rushes" or "waterplants" is the

translation suggested by KB, p. 652.

4 Snaith, "JUs-Mya: The Sea of Reeds: The Red Sea,"

p. 395.

5 Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 693.

6 Snaith, “JUs-Mya: The Sea of Reeds: The Red Sea,"

p. 395.


120

reference to the "world beyond."1 The Sea of Reeds was

supposedly used in reference to the world beyond. After a

person died he was regenerated by passing over this Sea of

Reeds. At this time his soul was regenerated and changed by

divine action. Then the soul was lifted up to heaven.2

Towers summarizes with this allegorical statement:

 

Therefore it would not be too much to assume that the

place of crossing or passing over referred to in the Old

Testament recalled to the writer's mind the name of the

elestial s i3rw, 'sea of reeds' and that the poet saw

in that name the ancient idea of regeneration.3

 

This interpretation is not credible for he has allegorized

the historical significance of this event. Although

Snaith's interpretation appears to be quite creative, he

nevertheless has produced no evidence to support his trans-

lation of this phrase. The most tenable translation is "the

Reed Sea."

 

Does MOhT; add a mythological note to the description of the

sea?

The mythological background

The noun MOhT; is used in the Old Testament in refer-

ence to "the primaeval ocean(s), the deeps of the sea or the

subterranean water.   Jackson has suggested that "the myth

 

1 Towers, "The Red Sea," p. 150.

2 Ibid., p. 151.                       

3 Ibid., p. 153.

4 KB, p. 1019.

 

 


121

of Creation is always in the, background."1 Because of the

usage of this term, Clement has also visualized, a relation-

ship between Genesis 1:2 and Exodus 15:5. He has stated

that MOhT;:

 

lends a mythological note to the description of the sea,

identifying the waters of the underworld, which were

subdued at creation, but the demonic force of which

had constantly to be kept in check by God.2

 

Clement may have drawn this conclusion because MOhT; is

thought to have been derived from Ti'amat of the Enuma Elish,

the Babylonian creation account; but their usage would

indicate that they are distinct in meaning.3 There may be

some etymological relationship, but MOhT; does not appear to

have been derived from Ti'amat.4