New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

 

Exo 15:1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to Yahweh, and said, I will sing to Yahweh, for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea-
The Psalms so often encourage Israelites to feel as if they personally had been through the Red Sea experience. Generation would tell to generation the Passover story, and would also sing of God’s greatness as Israel did in Ex. 15 (Ps. 145:5-7). Hence: “He turned the sea into dry land… there let us (AV: did we) rejoice in him” (Ps. 66:6 RVmg.). We too are enabled by Scripture to feel as if we were there, and to rejoice in what God did for us there. This of course depends upon our sense of solidarity with God’s people over time, as well as over space.


Therefore the saints will sing "The Song of Moses", which Ex. 15 records was sung after the triumph at the Red Sea. This indicates that Israel in Egypt prior to that represents the saints, just before the Lord's coming. Rev. 15:2-4 is all in the context of the Exodus: "I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire (cp. the calm Red Sea after it had returned over the Egyptians): and them that had gotten the victory (God was victorious at the Red Sea, Ex. 15:1) over the beast (Egypt is the prototype beast, Is. 51:9; Ez. 29:3)... having the harps of God (cp. Miriam's timbrels)... they sing the song of Moses... Who shall not fear Thee (cp. Ex. 15:14-16)... all nations shall come and worship before Thee; for Thy judgments are made manifest", referring to how the nations of Canaan were subdued as a result of the Red Sea victory (see Ex. 15:15). There must therefore be a latter day equivalent of the Red Sea deliverance of God's people.


Exo 15:2 Yah is my strength and song. He has become my salvation-
Moses perceived that the essence of Yahweh and His Name was salvation. To save weak sinners like Israel were at the time is what He is all about. He is a God of salvation, not condemnation; and this should encourage us in our weakness.

This is my God, and I will praise Him; my father’s God, and I will exalt Him-
Moses was only with his parents in babyhood and maybe very early childhood. They inculcated in him the faith of Yahweh at that early age. They likely died whilst he was still in the court of Pharaoh and looked like an ungrateful child who had gone the way of the world and forgotten his God and his people and their efforts to raise him in the faith. Moses here and in Ex. 18:4 pays tribute to them. What a surprise awaits them in the Kingdom!

 
Exo 15:3 Yahweh is a man of war. Yahweh is His name-
Moses hereby resigns all possible idea that he himself was a mighty warrior who had saved Israel out of Egypt. He had not fought, and the Egyptians had fled when none pursued them. Yahweh alone was the warrior of Israel.


Exo 15:4 He has cast Pharaoh’s chariots and his army into the sea. His chosen captains are sunk in the Red Sea-
The Egyptians themselves chased after the Israelites into the sea, but God was confirming them in their decision- He was casting them into that water. But if they'd been interviewed as they charged in, they'd have said that they were of their 100% freewill chasing after the Israelites. But God works through and confirms people in their freewill decisions.


Exo 15:5 The deeps cover them. They went down into the depths like a stone-
The 'covering' of Egypt with frogs in Ex. 8:6 and locusts in Ex. 10:5,15 looked ahead to the 'covering' of the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:28; 15:5,10). It was an appeal for repentance, in the hope that the final smiting would not be necessary. It was God's intention and hope to save the Egyptians, but they would not. They may well have been swallowed by some kind of earthquake (see on Ex. 14:27) and then their bodies floated to the surface, to be washed up on the shore as a witness to Israel of the destruction of their enemies. The destruction of Babylon is described as a stone being cast into the depths, and this latter day triumph is to be based upon the historical destruction of the Egyptians.


Exo 15:6 Your right hand, Yahweh, is glorious in power. Your right hand, Yahweh, dashes the enemy in pieces-
The present tenses inculcate the grand theme- that the victory at the Red Sea was to experienced as ongoing throughout the history of God's people. They were to be continually saved, and their enemies likewise defeated.


Exo 15:7 In the greatness of Your excellency, You overthrow those who rise up against You. You send forth Your wrath. It consumes them as stubble-
As noted on :6, the present tenses suggest that the victory at the Red Sea was to be forever ongoing in the experience of God's people. What happened in the past (note the past tenses of :8) was to become ongoing experience. And so we like David other later writers can feel that God comes through for us in our lives, just as He did at the Red Sea; and He shall do so for us ultimately.


Exo 15:8 With the blast of Your nostrils, the waters were piled up. The floods stood upright as a heap. The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea-
"A blast" (Heb. ruach, a spirit / Angel?) being sent upon Sennacherib uses the same term used here about Pharaoh's destruction, and it is also used of that of Babylon (Jer. 51:1). As noted on :21, these similarities show the same Divine hand working throughout the centuries of human history. "Congealed" can mean frozen, although the idea is likely that the water appeared like that, rather than being literally frozen. 


Exo 15:9 The enemy said, ‘I will pursue. I will overtake. I will divide the spoil. My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them’-
But they were cast into the sea by God (Ex. 15:21). We see here how God confirms people in the desires of their heart, for both good and bad.

The Egyptian beast being so furiously determined to destroy Israel at the Red Sea (Ex. 14:5; 15:9) is the basis for the dragon being "wroth with the woman, and went to make war (as Pharaoh 'went') with the remnant of her seed", chasing her into the wilderness and trying to destroy her with water (cp. the Red Sea); but "the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood" (Rev. 12:13-17), as at the Red Sea (Ex. 15:12). This passage in Revelation has reference to the latter day persecution of God's people.


Exo 15:10 You blew with Your wind-
The reference may be to God's wind / spirit in an Angel.

The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters-
Rev. 18 describes the latter day Babylon as being destroyed by being cast into the sea as a stone. This is definitely based on the description of Egypt as suffering the same fate in the Red Sea (Ex. 15:5,10), thus associating the historical 'Egypt' with last days Babylon. All this would suggest that the Lord could return at Passover, or the final tribulation begin then. “The day of the Lord” is the same phrase used about a Jewish feast. “Let the feasts come round: then will I distress Ariel” (Is. 29:1,2 RV).


Exo 15:11 Who is like You, Yahweh, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?-
The earlier books of the Bible declare Yahweh as greater than all other gods; later on, especially in Isaiah, it's more specifically stated that the other gods don't exist. Rather like the earlier parts of the Gospel records speaking of God's supremacy over demons / pagan gods; but then such references fade as it becomes apparent that Yahweh is so great that the other gods don't exist at all. God is very gentle in how He progressively teaches and reveals Himself to His people. We at times need to do the same in teaching misbelievers and unbelievers. The Lord's attitude to the question of demons is an example.

As in Ex.. 12:12; 15:11; Num. 33:4. the “gods” are spoken of for a moment as real and existing, in order to show Yahweh’s total superiority over them to the point that they didn’t exist. Note how it was the Egyptian people who were judged (Gen. 15:14); their idols (“gods”) are used by metonymy to stand for those who believed in them. Likewise “demons” is sometimes put by metonymy for those who believed in them (e.g. Mk. 2:32,34). The judgment upon Egypt’s gods is brought out by an otherwise obscure reference in Ex. 7:19 to how “there shall be blood in all the land of Egypt on wood and in stone”. “Wood and stone” is a term usually used in the Bible for idols; and “the Egyptian priests used

Exo 15:12 You stretched out Your right hand. The earth swallowed them-
As later happened to apostate Israel in the wilderness (Num. 16:32; 26:10). The punishment / judgment upon the world [Egypt] will come upon God's renegade people; they shall be "condemned with the world" (1 Cor. 11:32). The swallowing up of the Egyptian rods by that of Aaron's (Ex. 7:12) had been to warn the perceptive Egyptians that Yahweh could easily swallow them up if He wished; and He did so at the Red Sea. Because they failed to learn from His prior warning.

They may well have been swallowed by some kind of earthquake (see on Ex. 14:27) and then their bodies floated to the surface, to be washed up on the shore as a witness to Israel of the destruction of their enemies. 


Exo 15:13 You, in Your grace, have led the people that You have redeemed. You have guided them in Your strength to Your holy habitation-
The Exodus deliverance was seen as part and parcel of being given inheritance in the promised land; just as baptism is for us. We can upset the process, as faithless Israel did in the wilderness. Whilst baptism of itself will not save us (cp. crossing the Red Sea, 1 Cor. 10:1,2), it is a guarantee that God from His side will guide us to His Kingdom.

Moses' song of triumph after the Red Sea deliverance shows a fine spirituality. However, we note here his possible misunderstanding in Ex. 15:13,17- that Sinai was to be “the place” where God would dwell with Israel.


Exo 15:14 The peoples have heard. They tremble. Pangs have taken hold on the inhabitants of Philistia-
Rahab was aware of what Israel had done to their enemies on their way to Jericho- and she appears to allude to Moses' commands to destroy utterly and not make covenant with the peoples of the land (Dt. 2:32-37; 7:1-5; 20:16-18). When she says that she was aware that God had "given you the land" (Josh. 2:9), she uses the same two Hebrew words used repeatedly in Deuteronomy regarding God's promise to give Israel the land of the Canaanites. "Your terror is fallen upon us" is likewise an allusion to Ex. 15:16; 23:27 [the same Hebrew word for "terror" is used by Rahab]. Rahab speaks of how her people are "fainting" in fear- quoting Ex. 15:15 about how the inhabitants of Canaan would "faint" (AV "melt away") because of Israel. Knowing all this, she has the ambition to request the impossible- that she would be the exception, that with her a covenant would be made. When she says that "we have heard" about the Exodus (Josh. 2:10), she may be referring to the prophecy of Ex. 15:14: "The people shall hear and be afraid". In this case, her emphasis would have been upon the word "have"- 'yes, we have heard indeed, as Moses sung, and yes, we are afraid'. Seeking God's face is actually to strive for the unachievable in this life; but it's what we are to do. Spiritual ambition of the type Rahab had lifts us far above the mire of mediocrity which there is in all human life under the sun.


Exo 15:15 Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed-
We must put this together with the way Edom "refused to give Israel passage through his border" (Num. 20:18-21). Edom's refusal was because they were "dismayed" and terrified, not because they had some nonchalant confidence against Israel. Rather like the walls of Jericho appearing so strong- yet they were built from chronic fear of the Israelites.  This is an example of where we must place scripture together to get an accurate picture.   

Trembling takes hold of the mighty men of Moab-
This is indicated by the way Balak king of Moab tried to hire Balaam to curse Israel. 

All the inhabitants of Canaan are melted away-
Israel doubtless sung this song with great gusto. And truly it happened, that the Canaanite nations melted in fear of Israel (Josh. 2:11). But Israel's hearts "melted" for fear of those melting Canaanites (Josh. 14:8). Do we believe the words we so fervently sing...? For Israel didn't. It remained as words on a hymn sheet, and never took lodgment in their hearts.


Exo 15:16 Terror and dread falls on them. By the greatness of your arm they are as still as a stone- until Your people pass over, Yahweh, until the people pass over whom You have purchased-
As the Egyptians sunk as a stone (Ex. 15:5), so would the Canaanite nations. If God could do this to the Egyptians, He would remove all other obstacles to entering the Kingdom. The 'passing over' of the Red Sea was to be seen as the entire passing over into the Kingdom. Their entire journey was to be done in the spirit of the crossing of the Red Sea. The fact we have been brought out of the world, baptized through the Red Sea (1 Cor. 10:1-3), is comfort and encouragement that all the other obstacles on the Kingdom road will also be dealt with. We can never under-estimate the significance of our own baptisms.

Yahweh "purchased" His people from Egypt (Ex. 15:16) in the sense that He "redeemed" them (Ex. 6:6), alluding to the idea of buying a close relative out of slavery to a Gentile. God's people were in slavery to Egypt and wished to remain like that (Ex. 14:12); and had accepted their idols, rather than Yahweh (Ez. 20:8). Yet God bought them out of that slavery, He redeemed them only thanks to His love and pity (s.w. Is. 63:9); so earnest was He to have them as His own. We cannot push the metaphors too far, but the price paid was perhaps represented by the blood of the Passover lamb. For this finally was the price He was willing to pay to redeem us, similarly weak as they were. For we are redeemed (s.w.) by Him from the power of sin and death (Hos. 13:14).    


Exo 15:17 You shall bring them in-
The prophets had the spirit of Moses, who wished to see Israel in the land glorifying God, and was willing for his name to be blotted out of the book of eternal remembrance for that to happen. In that spirit, Moses even earlier could rejoice in song that “Thou wilt bring them in and plant them” (Ex. 15:17) rather than “You will bring us in…”. The prophetic desire was to see God glorified rather than their own success. This is the spirit of the prophets. This is what led them to see the tragedy of insincerity, of indifference, of the don’t care attitude.

And plant them-
Gen. 2:5 explains how God created "every plant of the field before it was in the earth / eretz / land [promised to Abraham]". Quite simply, the plants Israel knew had been made by God and somehow transplanted or moved into the land, just as one does when developing a garden. It was Moses' understanding that on entering the land, God would be planting Israel there (Ex. 15:17; Num. 24:6), just as God had planted in Eden (Gen. 2:8 s.w.).

In the mountain of your inheritance-
The parable of the pounds describes the reward of the faithful in terms of being given ten or five cities (Lk. 19:17). This idea of dividing up groups of cities was surely meant to send the mind back to the way Israel in their wilderness years were each promised their own individual cities and villages, which they later inherited. The idea of inheriting "ten cities" occurs in Josh. 15:57; 21:5,26; 1 Chron. 6:61 (all of which are in the context of the priests receiving their cities), and " five cities" in 1 Chron. 4:32. As each Israelite was promised some personal inheritance in the land, rather than some blanket reward which the while nation received, so we too have a personal reward prepared. The language of inheritance (e.g. 1 Pet. 1:4) and preparation of reward (Mt. 25:34; Jn. 14:1) in the NT is alluding to this OT background of the land being prepared by the Angels for Israel to inherit (Ex. 15:17 Heb.; 23:20; Ps. 68:9,10 Heb.) . We must be careful not to think that our promised inheritance is only eternal life; it is something being personally prepared for each of us. The language of preparation seems inappropriate if our reward is only eternal life.

The place, Yahweh, which You have made for yourself to dwell in; the sanctuary, Lord, which Your hands have established-
The whole land of Israel was intended to be the sanctuary ultimately, and not just the temple mount (Ps. 78:54). But this was one of the many potentials made possible for Israel which never materialized, because of their failures.


Exo 15:18 Yahweh shall reign forever and ever-
The sense of this statement is explained by the next verse explaining that this is because Yahweh had destroyed the Egyptians. "Reign over" can mean to defeat. The idea is that His victory over Egypt would continue eternally; the same victories required for the salvation of His people (in whatever form) would continue always. The Red Sea was not to be seen as an isolated victory, but programmatic for all His victories. David in the Psalms so often alludes to the Red Sea victory like this; and felt he was experiencing similar salvation from God. And we can too. 


Exo 15:19 For the horses of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and Yahweh brought back the waters of the sea on them; but the children of Israel walked on dry land in the midst of the sea-
AV has "the horse of Pharaoh". Consistently, the record is focused upon this man, who pitted himself against Yahweh in abusing His people. The language of the plagues and exodus is so frequently used in the book of Revelation and other latter day prophecies, leading us to see Pharaoh as a type of the latter day antiChrist figure. 


Exo 15:20 Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances-
Ps. 150:4 bids all God's people take up the tambourine and dance because of what God has done and will do at the coming of His Son. The same Hebrew words are used as here. Again and again the point is made- that we are to see the Red Sea as our victory, to be replicated in essence in our lives; we too are to rejoice in that victory. "They went through the water on food... and [therefore] there did we rejoice in him" (Ps. 66:6).


Exo 15:21 Miriam answered them-
She appears to have sung words to them, to which they responded with a chorus. Or perhaps the idea is that she and the women answered "them" in the sense of the words sung by the men in the song of Moses, in a kind of part singing.

Sing to Yahweh, for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea-
They ran into the sea of their own freewill (:9), but God confirmed them in this. The language is used again in the description of Babylon's judgments: "the horse and his rider... the chariot and his rider" (Jer. 51:19-23) is quoting Ex. 15:4,21. Biblical history continually interconnects, demonstrating that the same Divine hand has worked throughout history, and likewise works in our lives according to the same style. See on :8; Ex. 1:7; 14:25.  


Exo 15:22 Moses led Israel onward from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water-
"Shur" means 'the wall', and may refer to the wall built to define the boundary of Egypt by an earlier dynasty. Num. 33:8 defines the part of the wilderness as being near Etham, where there was a garrison of Egyptians (see on Ex. 13:20). It had been God's intention that they would go three days journey from Egypt into the wilderness and then worship Him (Ex. 8:27). But they didn't. It seems God purposefully didn't provide water for them- because this great trial was intended to lead them to worship and faith. But instead they rebelled, and His intention they would worship Him then didn't come to fruition. How many billions of such plans are made and frustrated each day by human short-sightedness... We note that very soon after their baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2), they ran into testing. Just as the Lord did, and as we do.


Exo 15:23 When they came to Marah, they couldn’t drink from the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore its name was called Marah-
Pharaoh was condemned and Egypt overthrown because of his hard heart- but the very word is used to describe the hardness of Israel's heart at the time (Ex. 32:9; 33:3-5; 34:9). Israel were really no better than Egypt- just as Egypt was plagued "so that they could not drink the water" (Ex. 7:24), so we find Israel in the same situation right after leaving Egypt (Ex. 15:23). As the Egyptians were stripped of their jewellery, so Israel stripped themselves of it before the golden calf (Ex. 12:36; 33:6).


Exo 15:24 The people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?-
Israel continually "murmured" against Moses (Ex. 15:24; 16:2,7,8; 17:3; Num. 14:2,27,29 cp. Dt. 1:27; Ps. 106:25; 1 Cor. 10:10). Nearly all these murmurings were related to Israel's disbelief that Moses really could bring them into the land. Likewise Israel disbelieved that eating Christ's words (Jn. 6:63) really could lead them to salvation; and their temptation to murmur in this way is ours too, especially in the last days (1 Cor. 10:10-12).

The record seems to place Moses and "the people" in juxtaposition around 100 times (e.g. Ex. 15:24; 17:2,3; 32:1 NIV; Num. 16:41 NIV; 20:2,3; 21:5). They accused Moses of being a cruel cult leader, bent on leading them out into the desert to kill them and steal their wealth from them (Num. 16:13,14)- when in fact Moses was delivering them from the house of bondage, and was willing to lay down his own salvation for theirs. The way Moses submerged his own pain is superb; both of their rejection of him and of God's rejection of him from entering the Kingdom. The style of Moses' writing in Num. 20:12-14 reveals this submerging of his own pain. He speaks of himself in the third person, omitting any personal reflection on his own feelings: "The Lord spake unto Moses... Because you believed me not... you shall not bring the congregation into the land... and Moses sent messengers from Kadesh unto the King of Edom...". Likewise all the references to “the Lord spake unto Moses” (Lev. 1:1). Moses submerged his own personality in the way he wrote his books. 


Exo 15:25 Then he cried to Yahweh. Yahweh showed him a tree, and he threw it into the waters, and the waters were made sweet-
We could see in the tree a foretaste of "the tree" on which the Lord was crucified.

There He made a statute and an ordinance for them-
What exactly this was isn't defined. It seems it was some simple test of their obedience, perhaps related to the gathering of the water, just as the commandments about the gathering of the manna were a simple test of obedience- which they failed. It was intended to teach them the need for the more detailed set of ordinances which they were to soon receive (:26).

Perhaps  Jer. 7:22,23 allude here: “For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: but this thing I commanded them, saying, Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well unto you”.

And there He tested them-
At the very time Israel put God to the test at Marah (Dt. 6:16), God responded by testing them (Ex. 15:25). When Israel were weary of God, He wearied them (Is. 43:22,24). Because they turned their back on Him (Jer. 2:27), He turned His back on them (Jer. 18:17); because they broke His eternal covenant with them, He eventually did likewise. On the other hand, God set the rainbow in the sky so that whenever He looks upon it, He will remember His covenant with man (Gen. 9:16). The pronouns seem wrong; we would expect to read that the rainbow is so that whenever we look upon it, we remember... but no. God condescends to man to such an extent that He invites us to understand that whenever we remember the covenant with Him, He does likewise.  


Exo 15:26 and He said, If you will diligently listen to the voice of Yahweh your God, and will do that which is right in His eyes, and will pay attention to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you, which I have put on the Egyptians-
The plagues upon the Egyptians were plagues upon their gods. If Israel worshipped their gods (and they did- Ez. 20:8), then the plagues would come upon them. And we often see the judgments upon an apostate Israel described in terms of what came upon Egypt. Thus the descriptions in Revelation of the seals and vials of judgment to come upon Israel are based around the plagues upon Egypt. 

For I am Yahweh who heals you-
Whenever God speaks about His Name, it is in the context of His emphasizing His huge commitment to Israel as His people, often in the face of their weakness (Ex. 12:12; 15:26; 20:2; Ez. 20:5,6). The very meaning of God's Name is of itself encouraging- although it is somewhat masked in English translations. God 'is' not just in the sense that He exists, but in that He 'is' there with and for us. The verb behind 'YHWH' was "originally causative", i.e. God not only 'is' but He causes things to happen. We aren't to understand Him as passive, just a stone cold Name... but rather passionately active and causative in our sometimes apparently static and repetitive lives.

Again, God's healings of Israel are to be programmatic for His people of all time (Ps. 103:3). It seems that as a result of their lack of faith, they were perhaps struck with some of the plagues of Egypt at this point (for they were all healthy on leaving Egypt, Ps. 105:37)- and then healed from them. 


Exo 15:27 They came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water, and seventy palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters-
There were twelve wells- one for each of the tribes. The lesson was that God had foreseen Israel's need for water long ago, and arranged those wells for them. As for us in our wilderness journeys. Yet 70 is the number of the Gentile nations in Gen. 10. They were being shown that God's intention was to combine Israelites and Gentiles within a new multiethnic people of God. Perhaps this arrangement of 12 springs and 70 palms was to help Israel to better incorporate the "mixed multitude" amongst them, as being equally God's people. Hence "Elim" implies "holy trees", or "trees of God", as if to remind Israel that He accepted the mixed multitude of Gentiles as equally His redeemed people.