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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Exodus 15

Verses 1-18

In the mountain of thine inheritance - See Exodus 15:13.

Verse 19

For the horse ... - This verse does not belong to the hymn, but marks the transition from it to the narrative.

Verse 20

And Miriam the prophetess - The part here assigned to Miriam and the women of Israel is in accordance both with Egyptian and Hebrew customs. The men are represented as singing the hymn in chorus, under the guidance of Moses; at each interval Miriam and the women sang the refrain, marking the time with the timbrel, and with the measured rhythmical movements always associated with solemn festivities. Compare Judges 11:34; 2 Samuel 6:5, and marginal references. The word used in this passage for the timbrel is Egyptian, and judging from its etymology and the figures which are joined with it in the inscriptions, it was probably the round instrument.

Miriam is called a prophetess, evidently Numbers 12:2 because she and Aaron had received divine communications. The word is used here in its proper sense of uttering words suggested by the Spirit of God. See Genesis 20:7. She is called the sister of Aaron, most probably to indicate her special position as coordinate, not with Moses the leader of the nation, but with his chief aid and instrument.

Verse 22

So Moses - Literally, And Moses. The history of the journey from the Red Sea to Sinai begins in fact with this verse, which would more conveniently have been the commencement of another chapter.

From the Red sea - The station where Moses and his people halted to celebrate their deliverance is generally admitted to be the Ayoun Musa, i. e. the fountains of Moses. It is the only green spot near the passage over the Red Sea. There are several wells there, which in the time of Moses were probably enclosed and kept with great care by the Egyptians, for the use of the frequent convoys to and from their ancient settlements at Sarbutel Khadem and the Wady Mughara.

The wilderness of Shur - This name belongs to the whole district between the northeastern frontier of Egypt and Palestine. The word is undoubtedly Egyptian, and is derived probably from the word Khar which designated all the country between Egypt and Syria proper.

Three days - The distance between Ayoun Musa and Huwara, the first spot where any water is found on the route, is 33 geographical miles. The whole district is a tract of sand, or rough gravel.

Verse 23

Marah - Now identified with the fount of Huwara. The fountain rises from a large mound, a whitish petrifaction, deposited by the water, and is considered by the Arabians to be the worst in the whole district.

Verse 25

A tree ... - The statement points to a natural agency, but the result was manifestly supernatural.

He made ... - The Lord then set before them the fundamental principle of implicit trust, to be shown by obedience. The healing of the water was a symbol of deliverance from physical and spiritual evils.

Verse 27

Elim - The valley of Gharandel, two hours’ journey south of Huwara.

Twelve wells - Read springs; the Hebrew denotes natural sources. These springs may have been perennial when a richer vegetation clothed the adjacent heights.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Exodus 15". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/exodus-15.html. 1870.