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Exodus 15:11-21 (The Song of Moses, The Song at the Sea, Part II)

Sep 20, 2015   //   by Charlie Garrett   //   Exodus, Exodus Sermons (written), Old Testament, Sermons, Torah, Torah (written)  //  No Comments

Exodus 15:11-21
The Song of Moses
The Song at the Sea, Part II

There is some of the worst artwork on the face of the planet on display in downtown Sarasota. I don’t think a person here would disagree with that. Abstract art for the most part isn’t art and almost all of the stuff that is along the bay front cannot be called “art” in any real sense.

The metal sculptures would look better as sports cars. Those made of fiberglass would look better as surfboards. And those made of resins of some sort would look better as children’s Lego blocks. If any of them are made of wood… well, even a shipping pallet is more pleasing to look at that the junk down there.

But there is one exception, isn’t there. Who here knows the name of the one piece of artwork that has true value downtown? That’s right… it’s the Kissing Statue! It is the one that every person who visits Sarasota loves to see and, of course, it is the only one that the stupid liberals – including the stupid liberal art commission – want to see removed.

And why is this? It is because it brings out the past that they don’t want to consider. They hate the nation in which we live and they hate what the Kissing Statue stands for – victory over the enemies of World War II. It was a battle of Good verses Evil and liberals always want evil to win.

Today we will finish the Song of Moses, the Song at the Sea. The Lord won a great victory over Pharaoh and his army. But this victory only pictures a much greater victory in redemptive history. It is the victory over the devil and sin.

Text Verse: “O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.
You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.” Psalm 89:8, 9

When we see the Kissing Statue downtown, we have a reminder of the once great thing that America accomplished in their triumph over the evil axis powers which threatened the world. There was joy and jubilation in the land as the people wildly celebrated what had been done.

Miriam did some wild celebrating with the other women as they danced and played the timbrels and exalted the great victory the Lord had accomplished for Israel. Let’s look at this marvelous celebration together, analyzing it’s wonders as we look into God’s superior word. It’s all to be found there. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Who is Like You, O Lord? (verses 11 & 12)

11 “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?

mi kamoka ba’elim Yehovah – With these words, we now enter the third stanza of the Song of Moses. It is shorter than the first two, but it is marvelous in its form and detail. Moses, as if completely overwhelmed by the thoughts which he has so far penned, turns from narration to question.

It is as if he had to pause and contemplate the utter majesty of the Lord and His wonderful work. His first of two rhetorical questions is “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?” This question is parallel to the words of 15:2, 3 –

“The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a man of war;
The Lord is His name.”

In those verses, he described the Lord. Now in this question, he asks who is like Him. The answer is implied in the question, “No one!” All of the gods of Egypt, the greatest nation on earth at the time, were rendered impotent against the hand of the Lord. None could compare to him and all were shown to be false.

Only the Lord was to be exalted because only the Lord is the true God. The words are as valid today as they were when Moses wrote them – allah, buddha, krishna, and on and on… Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? The answer stands – “None are like the Lord!”

In this question is the germ of the name of the archangel Michael, which means “Who is like God?” You can hear the similarity – mikael and mi kamoka? Who can compare to the Lord?

11 (con’t) Who is like You, glorious in holiness,

mi-kamoka nadar ba’qodesh – This portion of the verse is parallel to 15:6 which said –

“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;”

He asked the question based on these words and the reply again is implied in the question. “Surely there is no one like the Lord who is glorious in holiness!” In all ways, He is far above every being because He is the Creator of them all. Therefore, He alone is holy.

The word “glorious,” which in Hebrew is adar, is used for the second time both in this poem and in the Bible. In all, it will only be used three times in the Bible. Some translations use “majestic,” thus showing the superlative nature of the One who is “glorious in holiness.”

This is the first time that the idea of holiness is ascribed directly to the Lord. Three other times the word qodesh or “holy” has been used. The first was at the burning bush where the Lord told Moses to take off his shoes because he was standing on holy ground. It implied that the Lord is the One who made the ground holy.

The other two times it was used came in conjunction with the Feast of Unleavened bread, where the first and the last days of the feast were to be considered “holy.” Now, in the fourth use of the word, holiness is ascribed to the Lord who is “glorious in holiness” by asking this rhetorical question.

11 (con’t) Fearful in praises, doing wonders?

nowra tehilot oseh pele – This is the second half of the second question. It is parallel to verses 6-8 –

“Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.”

Moses described the great works of the Lord and now, in question he asks, “Who else is like this?” Again, the answer is implied in the question. “There is none like the Lord who is fearful in praises, doing wonders!”

He uses three new words in this portion of the verse. The first is emah and is translated as “fearful.” It means “terror.” The second new word translated as “praises” is tehillah. It means “praise,” or a “song of praise” and thus a psalm. It comes from the word halal which means “to shine.”

And the third new word is translated as “wonders.” It is the word pele. It is the first of 13 uses of this word in the Bible. It is a word found mostly in the psalms to describe the Lord in a manner similar to this song of praise, but probably the most famous use of it is found in Isaiah 9:6 where it describes the coming Messiah –

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6

Again and again Moses draws out new and exceptional words from his Hebrew dictionary to describe the majesty of the Lord who has performed works never seen before. He is to be held in awe, but not just as in an impressive mountain scene. Rather, we are to be in fearful awe of His glorious splendor. He is all powerful and therefore He alone is fearful in praises.

The Lord’s wonders in the creation itself as well as how He works through the creation are magnificent. And beyond this, He has proven that He can work beyond the natural order. The final plague, that of the firstborn, transcended the natural. And the parting and closing of the Red Sea did as well.

The Lord is able to suspend nature in order to accomplish his great wonders. It is He who is wonderful in all ways. Moses first recognizes this in written form for the people of the world to reflect on ever since. The author of Psalm 86 appears to have used his words here as a pattern for his own reflections on the Lord –

“Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.” Psalm 86:8-10

12 You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.

yatita yeminikha tiblaemow arets – These words are parallel to verse 10 which said –

“You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.”

But though parallel, there is an addition to what we have seen so far. It says that “the earth swallowed them.” It could be as many scholars believe, that this is speaking of the sea as a part of the earth and that Moses is using poetic license in his description.

However, it could be that this implies more than just the waters covering them, but that the earth was rent asunder as well. The 77th Psalm, which details this event, seems to confirm that along with the sea closing, there was also an earthquake –

“The voice of Your thunder was in the whirlwind;
The lightnings lit up the world;
The earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was in the sea,
Your path in the great waters,
And Your footsteps were not known.
20 You led Your people like a flock
By the hand of Moses and Aaron.” Psalm 77:18-20

The earth and all of its elements are under the complete control of the Lord. The Egyptians failed to see this and they perished. Israel failed to heed Moses’ words and they were twice exiled. And the world has forgotten that the Lord is in control and they too will suffer His judgments because of this.

Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods of the world?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness?
You are fearful in praises, Your wonders unfurled!
Only to You shall my soul bless

You stretched out Your right hand
The earth swallowed the peoples
You in Your mercy have led forth your redeemed as planned
So that they can gather to praise You under church steeples

The people whom You have redeemed and brought out
You have guided them in Your might
To Your holy habitation, and with a resounding shout
They have been brought into Your glorious light

II. The Lord Shall Reign Forever and Ever (verses 13-18)

13 You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;

nahita ba-khash-dekha am zu gaaleta – This is the concluding verse of the third stanza, but it is also the first verse of the second major section of the song. The first 12 verses were retrospective, looking back on the deliverance of the Israelites by the Lord.

Now from verses 13-18, they are prospective; they look forward to the future results of that deliverance. And yet, even though future, they are written in a past-tense, mission-accomplished style. Moses acknowledges that it is the Lord’s khesed, or divine favor, which made Him select and covenant with Israel.

In other words, it was a merciful act and not because they had merited His lovingkindness. It is an important point which Moses has incorporated into the song. The Lord covenanted with Abraham and made a promise to his seed. Even in their unfaithfulness, He has remained faithful to the people He redeemed.

And the words of this verse are exactly what the Lord promised all the way back in Chapter 6 –

“Therefore say to the children of Israel: ‘I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6

Just as the Lord promised, so He also fulfilled.

13 (con’t) You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.

nahalta b’azzekha el neveh qad-shekha – The form of the Hebrew indicates that the guiding of which Moses speaks is on-going. In other words, Moses is looking forward to where they are being led even though it is written as if they are already there.

The Lord had guided them, was guiding them, and would guide them by the power of His strength to His holy habitation. It could be, and it probably is, that this is speaking of Canaan, the Land of Promise, but verse 17 is more specific than that.

Not only would the people be brought into the Land of Promise, but there would be a place in that land where the Lord would dwell. In the end, this is still not only a historical account, but also a picture of those redeemed through the tribulation period of the future who would partake of the millennial reign of Christ as spoken of by the prophets many times.

It is also a picture of the redeemed of the Lord who will eventually be guided even to His heavenly habitation. This is described in Hebrews 12 –

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, 23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect,…” Hebrews 12:22, 23

In both the temporal and in the spiritual, it is the Lord who guides His redeemed until they arrive at the destination which He has prepared for them. It is marvelous to see how history repeats itself so that we can know that the Lord’s hand is involved in what occurs.

14 “The people will hear and be afraid;

sha-me-u ammim yir-ga-zun – The word “people” in the Hebrew is plural. It is speaking of the various people groups in the land of Canaan, many of which have been named already in the Bible.

They are groups such as those mentioned in Exodus 3 when the Lord spoke to Moses at the burning bush. These included the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. These many groups, and others as well, would hear and would fear.

This became a reality when Israel finally entered Canaan. When the spies first entered the land, they came to the house of Rahab the harlot and she said this to them, thus confirming Moses words –

“I know that the Lord has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you. 10 For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. 11 And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the Lord your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11

14 (con’t) Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.

khil akhaz yo-shev-e pelasheth –  In Moses’ words now though, he specifically singles out the inhabitants of Philistia. He says that “sorrow” would take hold of them. The word “sorrow” in Hebrew is khil. It is the first of seven times it will be used. It specifically means “agony” or “anguish.”

The Philistines have been mentioned several times in the Bible, but the territory known as Philistia is now mentioned for the first time. They are thus not just a group of people, but they are a people who have a portion of land identified with them.

It is the coastal area which is still occupied today by a rebellious group of people known as the Palestinians – a term which comes from the Hebrew word used to describe this ancient people. However, the modern Palestinians are actually Arabs with no connection to this group. Thus they could more rightly be called Fakestinians.

Just as the Philistines trembled at Israel in the past, the modern Palestinians do so once again in the present. History continues to repeat itself and the enemies of God and of His people follow the same pattern again and again.

15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed;

az nivhalu aluphe edowm – The alluphey, or chiefs of Edom, are mentioned dozens of times in Genesis 36 and then again in the genealogies of 1 Chronicles 1. However, by the time Israel finished its wilderness wanderings, these chiefs were replaced by a king.

Despite being under a kingdom and having become belligerent towards Israel, Moses still warned the people just prior to their movement towards Canaan that despite their fear of Israel, they were to be left alone –

“You are about to pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully. Do not meddle with them, for I will not give you any of their land, no, not so much as one footstep, because I have given Mount Seir to Esau as a possession. ” Deuteronomy 2:4, 5

15 (con’t) The mighty men of Moab,
Trembling will take hold of them;

ele mowav yokhazemow raad – These words are perfectly described as being fulfilled just as Moses wrote them. In Numbers 22, we read this –

“Then the children of Israel moved, and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of the Jordan across from Jericho.
Now Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was exceedingly afraid of the people because they were many, and Moab was sick with dread because of the children of Israel.” Numbers 22:1, 2

The story which follows this goes from Numbers 22-24 and concerns the story of Moab and Balaam the prophet. It has been a favorite of God’s people ever since.

15 (con’t) All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.

namogu kol yo-shev-e kenaan – Along with the words of Rahab that I read a couple minutes ago, this prophecy of Moses is exactingly fulfilled in the words of Joshua 5 –

“So it was, when all the kings of the Amorites who were on the west side of the Jordan, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard that the Lord had dried up the waters of the Jordan from before the children of Israel until we had crossed over, that their heart melted; and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the children of Israel.” Joshua 5:1

16 Fear and dread will fall on them;

tippol alehem ematah v’pakhad – For the second time in both the song and in the Bible, Moses uses the word emah. The first time was in verse 11 to describe the Lord who is “fearful in praises.” Now he says that emah, or fear along with dread, will fall on the inhabitants of Canaan.

Though they were more numerous than the people of Israel, they would be no match for them because they knew of His mighty arm which was set on destroying her enemies. Because of this, they would be in both fear and dread of the crushing flood which would come upon them.

16 (con’t) By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,

bigdol zerow-akha  yid-demu ka-aben – In Exodus 6:6, the Lord had promised to bring Israel out with an outstretched arm. That same symbolism is now used again to show that the arm of the Lord is not shortened. He would go on wielding it for His redeemed against the people they would continue to encounter.

And because of the display of strength His arm would show forth, Moses says that their enemies would be as still as a stone. Again, he brings a new word into the Bible’s pages, translated as “still.” It is the word damam which means to “cease.” The idea is that because of astonishment they would at once be motionless and hushed just like a stone. It is a beautiful metaphor to consider.

16 (con’t) Till Your people pass over, O Lord,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.

ad-yaabor amekha Yehovah ad-yaabor am-zu qanita

This section of the verse isn’t speaking of either the trip out of Egypt, nor passing through the Red Sea. It continues to be prospective, looking forward to the journey into Canaan. In Deuteronomy 29:16, Moses speaks of the nations they passed by during the wilderness wanderings.

They encountered many peoples, passing them by on the way to a better place, a place which had been promised to them over 400 years earlier. The repetition of the words in this verse are used to highlight and magnify the fact that all of those nations remained as still as a stone while Israel passed through them.

It is true that some came against them in battle, but those who did were crushed by Israel, becoming as still as a stone in death. The Lord allowed nothing to impede their march forward except the stubbornness of their own hearts as they rebelled against Him. But even that didn’t cause His forward motion to cease entirely.

And the reason is in the word “purchased.” Israel was purchased though the destruction of Egypt and the slaying of the Passover. Because they were bought back, He would continue to lead them and fight for them. They had become His possession and therefore the only One who had a right to discipline them was Him.

17 You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,

t’bi-e-mow v’tita-e-mow b’har nakhalatekha – Moses, taking the rest of the journey toward. and into Canaan, as an accomplished fact, says that the Lord will not only bring them in, but that He would plant them. And the word he uses means exactly that, as if to plant a tree. It conveys the idea that they will be firmly fixed in the land.

However, even before they arrive, they will be given advanced warning that just as a tree can be planted, it can also be uprooted. In his warnings to the people, he again spoke to them in a prospective manner, telling them that as certainly as they were to be planted, they would likewise be uprooted when they failed to live up to the standards He set before them –

“Then the anger of the Lord was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. And the Lord uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.” Deuteronomy 29:27, 28

And the reason for both planting them and uprooting them is found in the words, “the mountain of Your inheritance.” The land of Israel is equated to a mountain, as it is several times in the Bible. Because it is the Lord’s inheritance, meaning the Lord’s land, it is up to Him who may live there.

The Lord gave the Land to Israel as their inheritance as well. And so when they remain obedient to the Lord it is their land and they may use it. When they are under the punishment of the Lord, it is their land and they may not use it.

Either way, it is the Lord’s land, He has given it to Israel, and He decides when they may dwell in it. This is no different than a father giving to a son a bicycle or a car. Just because it belongs to the son it doesn’t mean that he can always use it. Israel is the Lord’s child and so He governs the rights of the child.

17 (con’t) In the place, O Lord, which You have made
For Your own dwelling,

makon l’shivetekha paalta Yehovah – Again, for the umpteenth time in this marvelous song, Moses introduces a new word to us – makon. It is a fixed or established place; a foundation. The idea is “permanence,” and this word, which is used 17 times in the Bible, almost always refers to some aspect of the Lord’s earthly temple or His heavenly throne.

Moses’ words here put that idea into motion and it will be repeated many times as the idea of permanence is affixed to the Lord’s dwelling place.

17 (con’t) The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.

miqedash adonai konnu yadekha – Interestingly, the name Yehovah or LORD is used ten times in this Song of Moses, but in this one verse the title Lord or Adonai is used instead. Why Moses deferred to the title rather than the name is a puzzle, but having done it this one time makes the song all the more exceptional.

The only commentator I read who even mentioned this change was John Lang who said –

“The centre of this mountain is, on the one hand, the dwelling-place of Jehovah; on the other, the sanctuary of the Lord (אָדֹנָי) for His people.” John Lange

But this isn’t correct. The lines of the verse are formed in parallel and are simply conveying the same idea with different words. To me, it is probably because of the meaning of the number ten in Scripture which is that of “…the perfection of Divine order… it implies that nothing is wanting; that the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete.” (Bullinger)

As ten signifies completion and the perfection of Divine order, Moses chose to include this address to the Lord with a title rather than as the Lord with His name.

Again in this verse, we are introduced to a new word – miqedash or “sanctuary.” It carries the same meaning as the word qodesh or “holy,” but it is applied to the dwelling of the Lord. However, it is the Lord who makes the sanctuary holy.

Therefore, Moses notes that it is “The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.” The words of Moses, if understood and heeded by Israel, would have saved them from an immense amount of grief throughout their generations.

If the Lord is the one who sanctifies the sanctuary, then those who are disobedient to the Lord will defile it. This occurred throughout their history and twice He saw fit to destroy the very place where He dwelt among them. Ezekiel 5 gives the charges to the people before its first destruction –

“‘Therefore, as I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘surely, because you have defiled My sanctuary with all your detestable things and with all your abominations, therefore I will also diminish you; My eye will not spare, nor will I have any pity. 12 One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them.'” Ezekiel 5:11-12

All of this could have been avoided if the people just kept their hearts and their minds directed towards the Lord. But Israel is just a microcosm of the greater world. Like them, the world has failed to pay heed. What came upon Egypt and what came upon Israel will also come on a global scale. All because we fail to pay heed to the word of the Lord.

18 “The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”

Yehovah yimlok l’olam v’ed – The Song of Moses ends with these words of glorious affirmation. They are amazingly simple and the substance of them will be repeated and built upon many times in Scripture, even into the New Testament where we read these words in Revelation 11 –

“Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!'” Revelation 11:15

Thus, Moses’ words here are to be taken as a statement concerning the redeemed throughout all dispensations and even throughout eternity itself. To show that this is a thought which is actually beyond comprehension, He introduces one last new word into the Bible with the very last word of the song – ad or “forever.”

By adding it to the word olam, or forever, it adds a superlative sense to its meaning. This dynasty of Pharaoh had come while Israel was in Egypt and it had ended before their very eyes. The waters of the ocean which consumed him dated back to the moment when the Lord created them, and those same waters saw his final end.

Other kingdoms would arise and they too would fall. History would continue on year by year, century by century, and even throughout the millenniums, but the Lord who was there at the beginning will still be there when all earthly kingdoms have passed into oblivion. Only He will reign forever and ever because only He is the Lord.

How great are Your deeds O Lord our God!
Wonderful! Splendid! Majestic! We cry to You
Our eyes have seen glory as our feet have trod
You have brought us out to a life brand new

And You will bring Your people in and them You will plant
In the mountain of Your inheritance
There people will dance and to You they will chant
Of Your great deeds for their deliverance

In the place, O Lord, which You have furnished
For Your own dwelling we too shall dwell, leaving never
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established
The Lord shall reign forever and ever

III. He has Triumphed Gloriously! (verses 19-21)

19 For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

This verse is given as a summary of what was said in Chapter 14. With more details there, it said –

“So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” Exodus 14:27-29

This then is not a later insert as so many scholars claim. Rather, it is a recounting of why the song was written. The words begin with a conjunction ki which means “for” or “because.” The last words of the song said that “The Lord shall reign forever and ever!” The “for” or “because” is explaining that thought.

Pharaoh is no longer a threat to the people of God because the Lord has proven Himself above all gods. This then is a prophetic picture of the comparable redemptive battles to come. From Christ defeating the world of sin and the power of the devil at the cross, to His final defeat of the devil and his demons when they are cast into the Lake of Fire, it is all pictured here.

Because of this marvelous work of the Lord, a spontaneous act came about by Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron…

20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Miriam is formerly introduced by name into the Bible at this time, even though she was seen on the banks of the Nile when her younger brother Moses was placed in the ark made by his mother. Now, some eighty years after that, she has witnessed another miracle of the Lord as that same brother raised his staff to first open the waters of the Red Sea and then to close them over the enemies of Israel.

She is called “the sister of Aaron” rather than Moses, possibly because Aaron is the elder of the two, but more probably because both she and Aaron are considered subordinate to Moses in the narrative before us.

In this verse, she is called a “prophetess.” She is the first of five women who are given this designation in the Old Testament. There is also one in Luke 2. Other women are noted as prophesying in the book of Acts.

Here she sets a precedent in the Bible which will be followed by other women. She takes a timbrel, meaning a tambourine, and goes out in dance before the Lord in victory. Other women will follow in this same manner when kings or others come home from victory in battle. They will dance and play the timbrel for the victor.

One of the most noted instances is found in Judges 11 where the daughter of Jephthah came out with timbrels and dancing to welcome home her father after his victory. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for her after that. It is a sad story despite the victory of Jephthah.

Unfortunately, the meaning of the name “Miriam” is not well agreed upon. However, one possibility for introducing her by name here comes from two separate words marar which means either “bitter” or “strong” and yam which means “sea.”

And so her name may mean “Waters of Strength.” That would certainly explain why the name is given at this time. The Red Sea crushed the enemies of the Lord as He directed them back to their natural state.

This can only be speculation, so if you make a brain squiggle on that, please include that it is only one possible meaning to her name which happens to correspond with the introduction of her name. And the meaning does fit well with our final verse of the day…

*21 And Miriam answered them:
“Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!”

The word for “them” in this verse is masculine. Because of this, it is believed that after hearing the first words of the Song of Moses, she picked up that refrain and answered them after each stanza as they went through the song. As she and the other women sang, they played the timbrel and danced.

This is the first time that dancing is mentioned in the Bible and it is almost sad to read Elizabethan era commentaries on this verse. They either say that it was only appropriate in the past, as if somehow dancing should never be allowed among Christians, or they might say something like she and the other women moved “gracefully through a stately and solemn dance” (Ellicott).

Personally, I would imagine the last thing they would be doing is having a slow, solemn dance. Instead, they would be leaping for joy at the work of the Lord. I can’t think of anything duller and more boring than a congregation of people who would sit still in an almost catatonic state, quietly playing harps, after seeing what they had seen.

In 2 Samuel 6, it says that David danced before the Lord with all his might as the Ark was brought into Jerusalem. He did this because he understood the greatness of the Lord who had delivered him from all his foes.

And certainly Miriam and the entire congregation of Israel danced their hearts out before the Lord as well. If you’re not too old to break something, I don’t think the Lord would fault you a bit for doing the same. And considering that Miriam is somewhere around 90 years old at this time, you’re probably not too old to do so.

Rejoice before the Lord because He has done great things for us. He has done far more for us than merely bringing us through a deep body of water and crushing an army who was set and determined to destroy us. More than that, He has brought us beyond an eternal chasm, an infinite divide between us and our God.

In the process, He destroyed the power of the devil over us and He has brought us to the safe shores of a heavenly inheritance. That is, assuming that you are one of His redeemed. And how did He accomplish this? Let me tell you in case you have never made a decision to follow Jesus Christ…

Closing Verse: “He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
52 He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.” Luke 1:51, 52

Next Week: Exodus 15:22-27 (The Sweetened Waters) (44th Exodus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. Even if a deep ocean lies ahead of You, He can part the waters and lead you through it on dry ground. So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Lord shall Reign Forever and Ever

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.
You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.
“The people will hear and be afraid;
Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.
Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed;
The mighty men of Moab,
Trembling will take hold of them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.
Fear and dread will fall on them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,
Till Your people pass over, O Lord,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.
 You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,
In the place, O Lord, which You have made
For Your own dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
“The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”

For the horses of Pharaoh went
Into the sea with his chariots and his horsemen
And the Lord brought back the waters
Of the sea upon them

But the children of Israel went
On dry land in the midst of the sea
Surely it was a marvelous event

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister
Took the timbrel in her hand
And all the women went out after her
With timbrels and with dances, the celebration was grand

And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!”

The Lord won the victory over the armies of Pharaoh
Casting them into the deep waters of the Red Sea
But He delivered Israel; His greatness He did show
And so the Israelites shouted out in victory

The people danced and sang to the Lord
Because of the marvelous display they did see
And we too should feel free to act the same toward
Our great Savior Jesus, who from sin and death has set us free!

Don’t just sit there like you’re dead in your seat
Instead raise your hands and move those feet

Shout out to Jesus with voices that have truly been set free
Shout about the wonderful things that He has done for you and me

Shout out people! The Lord has won the victory!

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

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