The song that celebrates God’s victory over the Egyptians ends with the acclamation of God’s eternal reign.
If readers did not read chapter 14 as a celebration of the significance of deliverance at the sea and instead primarily sought hard historical data, they will certainly need to shift gears in Exodus 15:1-18. Throwing chariots and armies into the sea, consuming adversaries likes stubble, blasts of divine nostrils-these phrases are not the stuff of historical description. They are the poetic language of song that moves beyond data and commences celebration. The song celebrates the kingship of God. Small wonder that SamuelThe judge who anointed the first two kings of Israel More would later question the need for a human king. God is your king! The language of the song reverberates in the royal psalms. The boastful who are about to devour their victims sink down. The song asks, “Who is like you, O LORD…?” (15:11). That question is echoed elsewhere in the Old Testament. PsalmA psalm is a song of praise. In the Old Testament 150 psalms comprise the psalter, although some of the psalms are laments and thanksgivings. In the New Testament early Christians gathered to sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. More 35:10 and 113:5-9 focus the incomparability of God in God’s exaltation of the poor and lowly. Similar questions in IsaiahIsaiah, son of Amoz, who prophesied in Jerusalem, is included among the prophets of the eighth century B.C.E. (along with Amos, Hosea, and Micah)--preachers who boldly proclaimed God's word of judgment against the economic, social, and religious disorders of their time. More 40 direct God’s incomparability to the reversal of the plight of exiles. This is sovereignty for a purpose, not for the sake of power itself. Exodus 15 is foundational to this theme of Scripture.
Interpreters have recognized archaic grammatical forms in Exodus 15 and have concluded that it is linguistically one of the oldest pieces of literature in the Old Testament. Others grant the archaic character of the language, but point to content, particularly in the latter portions of the song, that points to a less ancient dating. The reaction of Philistia, Moab, and others points to the conquest. The mention of God’s mountain and sanctuaryA sanctuary is the consecrated area around the altar of a church or temple. It also means a place of safety where one can flee for protection. In the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms, God is referred to as a sanctuary, a refuge from... More is seen as further evidence that the song in its present form was shaped from the point of view of being in the land.
The highly poetic tone used to celebrate God’s deliverance of Israel from Egypt is extended elsewhere in the Old Testament. For example, in Psalm 114 the sea is taunted as if it were the enemy defeated in the exodus. The word for sea (yam) in Hebrew is the same as the word for a Canaanite god (Yamm). That god was one of the evil forces in the world. LeviathanLeviathan is a biblical sea monster. Often mistakenly identified as a whale, this creature is perceived as larger and meaner than a whale. Leviathan is mentioned in Job, Psalms, and Isaiah as an example of enormity, who is eclipsed only by the enormity and power... More is associated with this god; Rahab is also an associate. When God defeats Pharaoh-a force of chaos-at the sea, the Sea/Yamm is also defeated. This backdrop is part of the rhetorical effectiveness of Psalm 114. The connection is even more direct in Isaiah 51:9-11: cutting Rahab to pieces and piercing the dragon are coupled with drying up the sea to make a way for the redeemed. The song of Exodus 15 is part of the long tradition in Israel of recognizing that its release from slavery in Egypt was not merely a one-time datum from the past. It fundamentally altered how one viewed the world.