New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

15:1 The theme is expressed in three verses (15:2-5; 6-10; 11-18).

15:2- see on 7:17.

My father's God- 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 pays tribute to them. What a surprise awaits them in the Kingdom!

15:4 Cast- they 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.

15:10 The Angels are often portrayed as the controllers of the natural elements- e. g. in Moses' song of thanks for the deliverance at the Red Sea, he seems very conscious of the fact that God was manifest in the Angel, and He thanks Him for  "Blowing with (His) wind (cp. "who maketh His Angels spirits/ winds"), the sea covered them" (Ex. 15:10). The other allusions in the Song to the Angel are:
v. 2 "I will prepare Him an habitation"- alluding to the fact that the Angel was going to prepare them a habitation in the land, and perhaps also referring to the building of the tabernacle for the Angel to live in.
v. 2 "my father's God"- alluding to Jacob talking of the God (the Angel, as Jacob meant-see earlier) which preserved him
v. 7 "Thou sentest forth Thy wrath"- the Angel physically sent forth
v. 13 "Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people . . guided them unto Thy holy habitation"- the language of the Angel in Is. 63 relating how He led and guided them to the land, and also of the promise to send an Angel with them to do this.

15:11 Among the gods- 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.

15:12 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).
15:13 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.

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


15:15 Melt away- Israel 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...?

15:16 Edom- therefore when Edom appear to boldly challenge the passage of the Israelites through their territory, they actually did so with hearts melting in fear of them (Num. 20:18). Rather like the walls of Jericho appearing so strong- yet they were built from chronic fear of the Israelites.

As a stone- as the Egyptians sunk as a stone (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 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.

15:17 Sanctuary- 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.

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.

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.


15:22 Three days- 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...

15:23 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).

15:27 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.