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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Exodus 15

Verses 1-5

EXODUS - CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Verses 1-5:

Moses and the children of Israel sang a song of praise and. gratitude to Jehovah for their deliverance, and the utter defeat of their foes.

Verse 4 notes the "Red Sea." The Hebrew text is Yam Suph, literally "Sea of Reeds." Red Sea would be Yam Adam or Yam Edom. Some downplay the significance of the Red Sea passage by contending this was a marshy area in the northern region of the Red Sea, and that Israel merely waded across in the shallow waters. Then, when Pharaoh’s chariots pursued them, they became mired in the mud and perished.

It is true that "Yam Suph" is the name in the Hebrew text. However, it is also true that there was enough water in this "sea" to form a "wall" on either side of Israel, and then to drown both horses and warriors when the passage closed. Also, Israel did not "wade" through a marsh; they went over on "dry ground" (Ex 14:16). -

Jehovah is the God of mercy, love, and peace. But He is also the God of War, who fights on behalf of His people.

Verses 6-10

Verses 6-10:

Verses 6 and 7 describe the omnipotence and justice of Jehovah God. The expression is an anthropomorphism, which ascribes human attributes to God. This figure of speech makes it easier to understand the nature and. work of God.

Moses poetically describes the east wind which opened the Red Sea, as the "blast of thy nostrils."

The text declares the sovereignty of God, in His dealings with the nations. Egypt at that time was the mightiest of the world powers. But they were no match for the power of Jehovah God of Israel.

God uses the forces of nature to accomplish His purpose. The winds and sea figured prominently in His judgment over Egypt’s army.

Verses 11-14

Verses 11-14:

One purpose of the ten "strokes or plagues" upon Egypt was to prove that Jehovah was greater than the gods of the Egyptians, that He is indeed the true God of heaven and earth. Because of this, He should be exalted above the gods of the heathen (see Ex 7:5; 14:4, 8).

Moses notes three points in which Jehovah is without rival:

1. His Holiness. The gods of the heathen were morally corrupt, and the people worshipped them with immoral, depraved practices.

2. His Awfulness, in the sense of inspiring reverence and awe. Even in praise, men are to look upon Him with awe.

3. His Miracle-working power, the ability to set aside the laws of nature to demonstrate His sovereignty.

"Earth" (v. 12) includes the sea. When the sea rushed in to cover and drown Pharaoh’s warriors, it was as if the earth had opened to swallow them, for they were never seen alive again.

"Palestine" is the Greek form. The Hebrew Phelasheth is best translated "Philistia." (See Ps 60:8; 87:4; 108:9.) This term designates the country lying along the eastern Mediterranean coast, beginning from a point just south of Gaza, and continuing northerly to Mount Carmel.

Verses 15-19

Verses 15-19:

The "dukes of Edom" refer to the tribal chieftains of Edom. Edom is another name for Esau. He had twelve sons, who became heads of twelve tribes (see Ge 36:15-43). By the time of the Exodus, these tribes had grown, and their chieftains were called "kings" (Nu 20:14).

"Moab" was one of Lot’s sons by his older daughter, Ge 19:37. He became the ancestor of a nation which later gave Israel much trouble.

The inhabitants of Canaan (Palestine) heard of the manner in which Jehovah delivered Israel from Egypt. They were filled with terror at Israel’s advance toward their land. This was calculated to aid Israel in their conquest of Canaan, see Jos 2:8-11.

God went before Israel to prepare the way for them to occupy the Land He had promised. This illustrates His working today: He goes before His child to open the way to accomplish what He has commanded, see Php 2:13.

Verses 18 and 19 conclude Moses’ song by re-affirming the sovereignty of Jehovah and His power over the Egyptians.

Verses 20-21

Verses 20, 21:

Miriam was the sister of Aaron and Moses. She was likely about twelve years older than Aaron. She is the first woman described in the Bible as a "prophetess." The validity of this title appears in Mic 6:4; Nu 12:2-8. Her prophetic gift was inferior to that of Moses.

Other Old Testament examples of women who were prophetesses: Jg 4:4; 2 Kings 22:14; Isa 8:3. New Testament examples: Lu 2:36; Ac 21:9.

Miriam took up the song of praise to Jehovah. She led the women in singing a hymn of praise and triumph, and in a religious dance. The instrument used to accompany this song was a timbrel, an instrument similar to the modern tambourine. The "dance" consisted of rhythmic steps to accompany the music. Dancing was common in religious observances of that time. The custom was that men and women "danced" in separate groups: women together with women, and men together with men. Frequent references appear in the Psalms to the dance as one means of praising the Lord. It was also the name of a musical instrument.

The "dance" of modern times bears no resemblance to the dance" of Bible times. There can be no justification for the modern gyrations that appeal to the depraved flesh-nature.

Verses 22-26

Verses 22-26:

The text does not tell how long Israel remained by the Red Sea before resuming their journey. When the cloud moved, they moved, journeying southeast, through the arid, waterless waste of the "Wilderness of Shur." This is called "Etham" in Nu 33:8. It apparently extended from Lake Berbonis (north) across the isthmus to the Red Sea, as far as Wadi Ghurundel. What water does exist in that region is extremely bitter.

The Israelites likely carried a supply of water with them, but it was insufficient for both them and their livestock. After a three days’ journey, the water supply was exhausted. The people then cried to Moses for relief.

"Marah" means "bitter." In this instance, the term denotes a site which is unknown today. Here Israel found water, but it was too bitter for them to drink. The Lord showed Moses a tree, which when it was cast into the waters, made them "sweet" and palatable. The description of this "tree" is not given. There are no such plants in that region today which are capable of sweetening the bitter water found there.

The experience at Marah was a test by which Jehovah "proved" Israel’s faith. Other tests where yet to come.

Moses gave Jehovah’s promise that for obedience to His laws, He would not permit the diseases that ravaged Egypt to come upon them. There is no list of what these diseases were. It is suggested that the dietary laws God gave later were designed to guard against such diseases.

Verse 27

Verse 27:

"Elim" is thought by some to be the modern "Ghurundel." Many springs of water may be found there, along with tamarisks, and palm trees. Here Israel camped for an unspecified time.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Exodus 15". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/exodus-15.html. 1985.