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Bible Commentaries

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible

Exodus 15

Verses 1-18

The Song of Triumph

v. 1. Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, a hymn of praise and thanksgiving for deliverance from their mighty enemies, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously, He has set forth His great majesty; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea, all the host in which Pharaoh placed his trust was overcome and destroyed in a few moments by the almighty power of God.

v. 2. The Lord is my Strength and Song, the great might of Jehovah, or Jah, as the poet here abbreviates the name, is the inspiration of his song, and He is become my Salvation; to those that are His, He has granted deliverance from the dangers that threatened them. He is my God, emphatically: such a one is my God, for the true God is elevated and magnified beyond all idols ; and I will prepare Him an habitation, I will glorify and praise Him highly; my father's God, and I will exalt Him. What God had promised to the patriarchs, especially Abraham, regarding deliverance from the bondage of Egypt, had now been fulfilled, for the overthrow of Pharaoh's host marked the beginning of Israel's existence as a free people.

v. 3. The Lord is a man of war, able to wage war successfully and to subdue all enemies; the Lord, Jehovah, is His name.

v. 4. Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath He cast into the sea; his chosen captains, the choice of his officers, also are drowned in the Red Sea, being submerged in the water.

v. 5. The depths have covered them, the great masses of water, part of the mighty ocean ; they sank into the bottom as a stone, without a chance of being saved. That is the first verse of this great hymn.

v. 6. Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power, has glorified itself in strength; Thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy, utterly annihilated them.

v. 7. And in the greatness of Thine excellency, of Thy majesty, Thou hast overthrown them that rose up against Thee, destroyed Thine adversaries; Thou sentest forth Thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble. The breath of God's glowing anger, which ate the opponents like straw, may have reference to the look of wrath which struck terror to the hearts of the Egyptians.

v. 8. And with the blast of Thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, for thus Moses regarded the strong east wind which the Lord sent, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea; for the walls of water stood up like frozen masses on either side as the Israelites marched through the sea.

v. 9. The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them, my soul will get its fill of them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them. The short sentences, hardly more than exclamations, vividly paint the certainty of victory which possessed the hearts of the Egyptians as they went forth in the overweening pride of confidence.

v. 10. Thou didst blow with Thy wind, the sea covered them; they sank as lead in the mighty waters, they sank from view like a plummet, and the rushing billows of the great sea bore witness to the glory of the Creator. Thus the second stanza of the hymn is concluded.

v. 11. Who is like unto Thee, O Lord, among the gods, among all those to whom men apply the name gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? Jehovah, who performed such great miracles, which men could contemplate. only with fear and trembling, had thereby given the guarantee that He would carry the deliverance of His people to a successful issue.

v. 12. Thou stretchedst out Thy right hand, the earth swallowed them. The miracles which the Lord had performed in Egypt and upon the host of the Egyptians showed that a similar fate awaits all the enemies of the Lord, that no man can stand before Him as His opponent.

v. 13. Thou in Thy mercy hast led forth the people which Thou hast redeemed. The deliverance out of Egypt was a proof of the fact that Israel was the Lord's people, the people of His redemption, but also that this miracle was due to His mercy alone, and not to any worthiness in them. Thou hast guided them in Thy strength unto Thy holy habitation. The past experience was a pledge of further mercies, and the prophet even now sees the people established in their inheritance, where the Lord would live in their midst in the beauty of His holiness.

v. 14. The people shall hear and be afraid, be filled with restlessness and distress; that was even now the effect which the report of the mighty deliverance had upon the heathen nations ; sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina, they would tremble with mournful fear.

v. 15. Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed, will lose heart and courage; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them, take a firm grip upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away in dread and terror.

v. 16. Fear and dread shall fall upon them, a horror which would render them helpless; by the greatness of Thine arm they shall be as still as a stone, mute, unable to utter a word, to raise a single objection; till Thy people pass over, O Lord, till the people pass over which Thou hast purchased. The final entry into the Land of Promise was assured and could not be hindered by any attempts of their enemies to render it futile. By His mighty deeds God had purchased this people for Himself, and He intended to hold His property against all adversaries.

v. 17. Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance, in the place, O Lord, which Thou hast made for Thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which Thy hands have established. In the eyes of the prophet all these things were even now accomplished; he saw his people living in Canaan, in the place which the Lord had chosen for them; he saw the Temple of. the Lord erected in the midst of His people, as a place of worship to His holiness and mercy.

v. 18. The Lord shall reign forever and ever. The singer here rises to the greatest heights of exultation and looks even beyond the temporal kingdom of Israel in the Land of Promise, to the eternal reign of the Messiah.

Verses 9-21

The Lord Sends Quails and Manna

v. 9. And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the Lord; for He hath heard your murmurings. Aaron, as the spokesman of Moses, was to make this announcement, giving the people the assurance that Jehovah had heard, and was ready to grant, the prayer included in their murmuring, in spite of the fact that it indicated a sinful weakness on their part.

v. 10. And it came to pass, as Aaron spake unto the whole congregation of the children of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and, behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. This appearance confirmed the reproof and the promise given by the mouth of the Lord's ambassadors, and incidentally indicated to them that God was able to manifest Himself in their midst even in the desert wastes which now lay before them.

v. 11. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

v. 12. I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel. Speak unto them, saying, At even ye shall eat flesh, between the evenings, at twilight, before nightfall, and in the morning ye shall be filled with bread; and ye shall know that I am the Lord, your God. It would be another unmistakable proof of His almighty power.

v. 13. And it came to pass that at even the quails came up, and covered the camp; they arose on the horizon in great masses, like a heavy cloud, their usual number being much increased by a miracle of the Lord. And in the morning the dew lay round about the host, all around the camp.

v. 14. And when the dew that lay was gone up, that is, the heavy fog that accompanied the precipitation, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoarfrost on the ground, like flaky kernels, Numbers 11:7.

v. 15. And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, What is this? For they wist (knew) not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat, the miraculous, heavenly bread, of which he had spoken the evening before.

v. 16. This is the thing which the Lord hath commanded, Gather of it every man according to his eating, an omer for every man, about two and one-half quarts per person, according to the number of your persons; take ye every man for them which are in his tents; that was the average amount per soul, whether children or adults.

v. 17. And the children of Israel did so, and gathered, some more, some less, as every man's good fortune or his energy directed.

v. 18. And when they did mete it with an omer, the measure which the Lord had given as the standard, he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack; they gathered every man according to his eating. By God's miraculous arrangement the amounts gathered were just sufficient for each family and for the entire people.

v. 19. And Moses said, Let no man leave of it till the morning, in an attempt to hoard the food.

v. 20. Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto Moses, they again became guilty of stubborn disobedience; but some of them left of it until the morning, and it bred worms and stank; the tiny maggots that developed caused a rapid decay. And Moses was wroth with them, on account of their stubbornness.

v. 21. And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating; and when the sun waxed hot, it melted. Thus the Lord provided for His people in their need, mercifully overlooking their weakness, even as He does to this day, as His children experience time and again.

Verses 19-21

The Song of Miriam

v. 19. For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, the historian implying, at this point, that Pharaoh, riding forward at the head of his army, was destroyed with all his host, Psalms 136:15, and the Lord brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea, in the bed which the sea ordinarily filled.

v. 20. And Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, who from now on takes her place at the side of Aaron under the leadership of Moses, although she was endowed with prophetic gifts, took a timbrel, a tambourine, in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances, in a stately, solemn religious dance, with marching and singing in unison.

v. 21. And Miriam answered them, she and her company chanted their refrain at the end of every verse, or stanza, as sung by Moses and the children of Israel, Sing ye to the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously, He has exalted His majesty; the horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. Cf v. 1. All the people, men and women, were thus engaged in the hymn of praise and thanksgiving, took part in the festival in honor of Jehovah, a fine example to the believers of all times.

Verses 22-27

In the Wilderness of Shur

v. 22. So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; they left the last fountain of fresh water behind them and marched out into the desert which extends along the eastern shore of the Gulf of Suez, the western arm of the Red Sea; and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.

v. 23. And when they came to Marah, probably the modern Hawara, thirty-three miles from the place where they had crossed the sea, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter, not merely saltish, but disagreeably repugnant; therefore the name of it was called Marah (bitterness).

v. 24. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? So quickly did the children of Israel forget the many evidences of God's mercy in Egypt and the miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea.

v. 25. And he cried unto the Lord, for counsel and assistance; and the Lord showed him a tree, indicated some wood to him, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet, as palatable and wholesome as the best drinking-water. In this way the Lord overlooked the weakness of His children and helped them out. There He (God) made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there He proved them,

v. 26. and said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord, thy God, and wilt do that which is right in His sight, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee which I have brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord that healeth thee. That was the test which the Lord proposed, namely, that the children of Israel should keep His commandments, laws, and ordinances. In that event He would prove Himself their true Physician in keeping from them the plagues which struck the Egyptians, and they could depend upon this promise as upon a definite ordinance.

v. 27. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees; and they encamped there by the waters. In this beautiful oasis the people had an opportunity to refresh themselves from the fatigue of the journey and to prepare for the continuation of the journey. Days of joy and comfort follow after periods of suffering and trial.

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Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Exodus 15". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/exodus-15.html. 1921-23.