CARMEN MARIS ALGOSI: AN EXEGETICAL STUDY
OF EXODUS 15:1-18
Robert V. McCabe, Jr.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of requirements
for the degree of Master of Theology in
Grace Theological Seminary
Carmen Maris Algosi: An Exegetical Study of Exodus 15:1-18
Robert V. McCabe, Jr.
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,
an analysis of the important syntactical elements in the Song of the
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
composing the Song of the
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
TABLE OF CONTENTS
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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,
Carey A. Moore (
1974), p. 163.
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,
by J. S. Bowden (
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.
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
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
the underworld of mythology? It may however be understood
1 Sigmund Mowinckel, The Psalms in
by D. R. Ap-Thomas (2 vols. in 1:
Abingdon Press, 1967), I, 126.
2 Frank Moore Cross, Jr., "The Divine Warrior in
Transformations, ed. by Alexander Altmann, Philip W. Lown
of Advanced Judaic Studies,
Studies and Texts, Vol. III (
3 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"
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
usage in this song demands interpretation. How do these
relate to the Israelite poet?
Does this mean that
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-
1 S. R. Driver, The Book of Exodus, in The
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
Company, 1949), p. 55.
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
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
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
Textual Tradition Rediscovered," Journal of Near Eastern
Studies, 26:2 (April, 1967), 93.
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
Canaanite literature from
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 (
Inter-Varsity Press, 1973), 123-26.
2 P. C. Craigie, "The Poetry of
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.
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.
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
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,
2 Ibid., p. 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
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
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.;
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
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
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.
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
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
Sabatino Moscati, et al., An Introduction to the Comparative
Grammar of the Semitic
Harrassowitz, 1999; and William Wright, Lectures on the
Comparative Grammar of
the Semitic Languages
Philo Press, 1966).
PRELIMINARY INTERPRETATIVE CONSIDERATIONS
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
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.
Scribner's Sons, 1916), p. 12 .
3 Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of
Exodus, trans. by Israel Abra
1974), p. 173.
4 Philip J. Hyatt, Exodus, in The New Century Bible,
by Ronald E. Clements and Matthew Black (
5 W. F. Albright, "A Catalogue of Early Hebrew Lyric
Part 1 (1950-51), 5, n. 9.
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.
problems for a conservative. This, however, would not
assist in making a distinction between Exodus 15 and the
Song of Moses in Deuteronomy 32.
titles Song of the Sea or Song of the
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
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
1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"
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
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,
I, Metrische Studien (
1901), p. 408.
2 John D.
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
ed. by J. Coert Rylaarsdam (
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 (
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.
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),
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
Lord, The Singer of Tales (
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,
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
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
supposedly reflects the influence of the
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.
3 Cf. Frank E. Eakin, Jr., "The
Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXVI:4 (December, 1967),
383; Eakin explains the change in image by suggesting that
of Yahweh's victory over Yam.
4 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 17.
Verses 12-17, according to Coats, should be associ-
ated with the
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
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
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
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.
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
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
Study of the
Testamentum, XX:4 (October, 19 0), 406-18; Coats, "The
Character of the
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
same criticism that he has applied to others also applies to
his thesis, it is “supported by plausible but unconvincing
3 Noth, Exodus, p. 121.
4 W. F. Albright, "Some Oriental Glosses on the
Homeric Problem," American Journal of Archaeology, 54 (1950)
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
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.
1961), p. 255; see also James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient
Near Eastern Texts (hereinafter referred to as ANET)(2nd,
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.
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
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.
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
Studies in the Book of
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.
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
Westermann has indicated that the Song of Miriam was
1 William F. Albright, Archaeology, Historical
Analogy, and Early
2 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"
p. 234, n. 2.
3 Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"
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
within the realm of possibility.
There appears to be a number of reasons for accept-
ing the Mosaic authorship of
the Song of the
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
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.
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
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
done at the
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
Distinctive Ideas of the
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
K. Harrison (
ing Company, 1976), p. 64.
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
sovereignty, Exodus 6:7, 10:2, and 11:7. The deliverance
1 Ibid., p. 65.
2 Ibid., p. 64.
from the Egyptians is used approximately one hundred times
in the Old Testament. The purpose of this event was for
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
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,
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
subject of the date for the Song of the
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.
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
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,
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),
4 Noth, Exodus, p. 123; Noth has indicated that the
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
(January, 1955), 13-33.
Song of the
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
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
Dissertation Series, no. 3 (
Society of Biblical Literature, 1972), p. 155.
5 W. F. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of
(Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1968), p. 10.
characterized by parallelism.1
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
Solomon's reign which is generally regarded as 966 B.C.2
The children of
Exodus 15:1 indicates that the
Song of the
composed after the crossing of
shortly after their departure
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.
1976), p. 55.
2 See Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the
Hebrew Kings (rev. ed.;
Publishing Company, 1951).
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
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),
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. (
Zondervan Publishing House, 1979), pp. 203-4; see also J.
Weingreen, A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (2nd
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),
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
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
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,
2 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, p. 27.
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-
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
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
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
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
to as UT), Analecta Orientalia, 38 (
Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965), p. 253.
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 preservation of a y/v in a final y/v verb when it opens
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.
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
2 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, pp. 58-59.
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
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.
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
Another suffix which is characteristic of early
Hebrew poetry is the third masculine plural7 pronominal
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.
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
E. Cowley (2nd English ed.;
1970), p. 258.
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
conclusion that Exodus 15 is an example of archaizing.
The enclitic mem
The last confirmation of a conservative date for the
Song of the
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,
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.
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,
2 Robertson, Linguistic Evidence, pp. 77-110.
3 Ibid., p. 108.
arguments, rather it is supported by them in that these
philological considerations are characteristic of Northwest
Semitic languages in that general time period.
CRITICAL INTERPRETATIVE CONSIDERATIONS
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
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
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
1951; reprint ed.:
1956), p. 162, n. 3.
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
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.;
see J. Coert Rylaarsdam's foreword to Literary Criticism of
the Old Testament by Norman C. Habel.
3 R. K.
1969), pp. 36-37.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
Buttrick (4 vols.:
III , 949-50.
2 Noth, Exodus, p . 123.
3 Mowinckel, The Psalms in
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.
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
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
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,"
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.
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
1 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"
2 Ibid., p . 237.
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
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
1 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 237.
2 Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Exodus,
3 Kitchen, Ancient Orient and Old Testament, p. 133,
New Year Festival. He has drawn some of his conclusions
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
1 Mowinckel, The Psalms in
34; Mowinckel's reasoning is not based on solid objective
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.
other cultic act.1 If there is no cultic emphasis, this
psalm is not liturgical.
Song of the
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
The word setting is used as a synonym for the
German expression Sitz im Leben.4 Gunkel was not satisfied
2 Mitchell Dahood, Psalms, in The Anchor Bible (3
3 Childs, The Book of Exodus, p. 244.
4 Tucker, Form Criticism and the Old Testament,
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
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
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
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.
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 (
2 Clines, "Psalm Research since 1955: 11. The
Literary Genres," p. 109; cf. also Mowinckel, The Psalms in
3 Johnson, "The Psalms," p. 205; Johnson gives a
concise summary of Gunkel and Mowinckel's work in the
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
5 Kidner, Psalms 1-72, p. 9.
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
Buttrick (4 vols.:
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
3 Arthur Weiser, The Old Testament: Its Formation
and Development, trans. from the 4th ed., with revisions by
author, by Dorothea M. Barton (
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
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
has associated the Song of the
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
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
Cult," p. 27.
5 Cf. Frank
Early Hebrew Orthography: A Study of the Epigraphic
Evidence, American Oriental Series, Vol. 36 (hereinafter
to as Early Hebrew Orthography) (
Conneticut: American Oriental Society, 1952).
overcame Yamm. After this victory a palace was built for
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,
The motifs of the Ugaritic literature are supposedly trans-
parent in the Song of the
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,"
2 Ibid., pp. 6-7.
4 Ibid., p. 9.
3 Ibid., p. 8.
5 Ibid., p. 24.
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
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
mitted to pass over on dry ground, but it pictured the
crossing of the
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
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
2 Cross, "The Song of the Sea and Canaanite Myth,"
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
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
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
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,"
3 Craigie, "The Poetry of
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
Song of the
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
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,"
4 R. E. Clement, Prophecy and Covenant, Studies in
Biblical Theology, no. 43 (London: SCM Press, 1965), p. 64.
A Study of
Abingdon Press, 1962), p. 164.
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
quest."3 Hence, the conclusion has been drawn that Exodus
15 was used in
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
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.
This may account for the ease with which so many
scholars find its Sitz im Leben in the regular life 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
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
(October, 1965), 397.
2 Coats, "The Song of the Sea," p. 3.
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
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
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
11-12 11-13 11 11
13-17 12-13 12-14
14-16a 14-16a 15-16a
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.,
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
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
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,"
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,"
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
5 Theodore H. Robinson, The Poetry of the Old Testa-
ment (London: Gerald Duckworth and Co., 1947), pp. 43-4.6.
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
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.
In verse 16 the strophe is brought to a masterful conclu-
sion. The repetition of the phrase "until thy people pass
over" accentuates the
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,"
2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 164.
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
verse 6 ab/cd
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:
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.
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
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-
1 Rozelaar, "The Song of the Sea," p. 226.
2 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"
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-
plunder her. The destruction of the enemy is described in
verse 10 which is in sharp contrast to the enemies original
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
2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 165.
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
Myliz;no dne-Omk; Ubc.;ni
MyA-bl,B; tmohot; Uxp;qA
verse 10 j~HEUrB; TAp;wanA
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,"
remained unquestioned. As
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.
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
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
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,"
2 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," pp.
3 Ibid., p. 187.
4 Ibid., p. 188.
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.
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,"
2 N. K. Gottwald, "Hebrew Poetry," The Interpreter's
Dictionary of the Bible, ed. by George Arthur Buttrick, et al.
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
Perhaps the most important fact to bear in mind is that
the poets of the ancient
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-
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
Exordium (verse 1) 2:2 2:2
Strophe 1 (verses 2-5)
2 3:3 3:3
4 3:2 2:2
Refrain (verse 6) 2:2 2:2
Strophe 2 (verses 7-10)
7 2:2 2;2
8 2:2 (or 3:3)
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)
13 2:2 2:2
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
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.
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
The Early Poetry of
Origins, The Schweich Lectures,
Press for the
3 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," P. 179.
4 Cross and Freedman, "The Song of Miriam," p. 247,
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.
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
confirmation is derived from
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.
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
Near Eastern Studies, 9 (1950), 132.
2 Gottwald, "Hebrew Poetry," p. 834.
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
The first half of verse 1 is a prose introduction to
the Song of the
tion and an etymological problem that will be examined in
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,
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.;
2 Ronald J. Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline (2nd
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 (
Eerdmans Publishing House, 1962), p. 843.
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
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.
is an Egyptian word which was assimilated into Hebrew at
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
"son of the
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
(3rd rev. ed.;
4 Francis D. Nichol, ed., The Seventh-Day Adventist
Bible Commentary, Vol. I (Washington, D. C.: Review and
Herald Publishing Association, 1953), p. 504.
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
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
1 Alan H. Gardiner, "Communications: The Supposed
Equivalent of the Name 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
4 Ibid., n. 1.
of water."1 Yahuda then applied it to the Nile River.2
Therefore, Moses means
"son of the
the name Moses is supposedly on
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.
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.
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.
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.
The exordium is the poetical incipit to the Song of
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.
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 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.
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
to have been borrowed from
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-
the recent discoveries at
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.
Arthur W. Heathcote and Philip J. Allcock (
Harper and Row Publishers, 1958), p. 48; see also Sigmund
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
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
"The Name of the God of Moses," Hebrew
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.:
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
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
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.
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
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
form will be i; see
also Cross, "Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs," p. 252,
n. 121; and William Sanford LaSor, Handbook of Biblical
Hebrew (2 vols.:
Publishing Company, 1978), II, 94, par. 27.332.
2 Cross, "Yahweh and the God of the Patriarchs,"
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.
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
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;
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
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.
Peter R. Ackroyd and Barnabas Lindars (
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-
referred to as BDB) (reprinted;
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.:
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.;
1977), p. 344.
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.
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
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.;
Press, 1940; reprint ed.: Henry Stuart Jones, 1968),
4 Haupt, "Moses' Song of Triumph," p. 158.
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
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.
A philological treatment of trAm;ziv; 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,
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
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.
derived from the root zzafA.1
This word is translated "song" in the King James
Version,2 Revised Standard Version,3 New American Standard
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),
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,
9 Loewenstamm, "The Lord Is My Strength and My
Glory," pp. 467-68.
"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
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.
similarity with Hebrew rywi and rmazA. From this Loewenstamm
has concluded that Hebrew rmazA is identical with Ugaritic
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.
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
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),
3 Simon B. Parker, "Exodus XV 2 Again," Vetus
Testamentum, XXI:3 (July, 1971), 376.
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
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.
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
a common cultural setting from which they drew fixed pairs.
Gevirtz has recognized this with the following statement:
The poets of ancient
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.
4 Mitchell Dahood, "Ugaritic-Hebrew Parallel Pairs,"
Ras Shamra Parallels:
The Texts from
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
sequence in Ugaritic and in Hebrew, see
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
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.
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
3 Williams, Hebrew Syntax: An Outline, p. 16,
4 B. Margulis, "A Ugaritic Psalm (RS 24.252),"
Journal of Biblical Literature, LXXXIX:3 (September, 1970),
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.
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
2 S. Talmon, "A Case of Abbreviation Resulting in
3 Lehman, "A Forgotten Principle of Biblical Textual
Tradition Rediscovered," p. 93.
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 (
Scholars Press for Society of Biblical Literature, 1950),
p. 55, n. c.
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
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
2 Muilenburg, "A Liturgy on the Triumphs of Yahweh,"
p. 24.0, n. 1.
5 Ibid., p. 248.
6 Kenneth L. Barker, "The Value of Ugaritic for Old
Testament Studies," Bibliotheca Sacra, 133:530 (April-June,
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.
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
2 Ibid., p. 132, par. 13.108.
3 Muilenburg, "Poetry," pp. 673-74.
4 Hereinafter referred to as T°.
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
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.;
3 BDB, p. 926.
4 Ibid., p. 627.
5 Cross and Freedman, Studies in Ancient Yahwistic
Poetry, p. 56, n. e.
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.
4 Freedman, "Strophe and Meter in Exodus 15," p. 177.
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 (
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.
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
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,
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.
the theme not merely, as a theological affirmation but as
the very pivot upon which the life of the disciple
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
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.
(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;, "
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),
5 See the critical appartus of Rudolph Kittel, ed.,
Biblia Hebraica (editio duodecima emendata;
Wurtembergische Bibelanstalt, 1961).
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.
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.
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 (
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,
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
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),
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.;
4 Craigie, "An Egyptian Expression in the Song of the
Sea (Exodus XV 4)," p. 85.
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
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
430 years of dwelling in the
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.
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.
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
The translation of JUs-Mya as the
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
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,
2 Wurthwein, The Text of the Old Testament, p. 20.
Eastern Studies, XVIII:2 (April, 1958), 150.
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
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
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, "
Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. by Merrill C. Tenney (5
3 BDB, p. 693; "rushes" or "waterplants" is the
translation suggested by KB, p. 652.
4 Snaith, "JUs-Mya: The
5 Liddell and Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, p. 693.
6 Snaith, “JUs-Mya: The
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
Does MOhT; add a mythological note to the description of the
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
1 Towers, "The
2 Ibid., p. 151.
3 Ibid., p. 153.
4 KB, p. 1019.
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
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