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Bible Commentaries

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Exodus 15


Moses and the people praise the Lord, Exodus 15:1-21.

They want water, Exodus 15:22.

The waters of Marah are bitter, Exodus 15:23.

The people murmur against Moses, Exodus 15:24.

He crieth unto the Lord; the waters are sweetened, Exodus 15:25.

They come to Elim, where they find twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees, Exodus 15:27.

Verse 1

Moses composed the song, and he, together with the Israelites, sung it, unto the honour and praise of God.

Verse 2

My strength and song; the matter or subject of the present song of praise.

An habitation; a place for his service and worship, where he will dwell by his special presence.

Verse 3

A man of war; an eminent warrior; as the phrase is used 1 Samuel 17:33. Thus an eloquent man is called a man of words, Exodus 4:10, and a mighty man, a man of arm, Job 22:8.

Verse 4

With great force, like an arrow out of a bow; as the Hebrew word signifies.

Verse 7

In the greatness of thine excellency; by thy great and glorious power.

As stubble; as easily, and as speedily, and as irrecoverably.

Verse 8

Of thy nostrils; or, of thine anger, to wit. that vehement east wind, Exodus 15:10; Exodus 14:21, which was raised by thine anger in order to the ruin of thine enemies.

The floods, Heb. the streams, or the flowing waters, whose nature it is to be constantly in motion.

Were congealed, i.e. hardened, stood still, as if they had been frozen, and so they were a wall on both hands, Exodus 14:22.

In the heart of the sea, i.e. the midst; as that word is used, Psalms 18:16; Psalms 46:2; Ezekiel 28:2.

Verse 9

My lust; the lust of covetousness and revenge too. Shall destroy them; or, take possession of them and theirs: see of this word, Numbers 14:12,Numbers 14:24.

Verse 10

Heb. Magnificent or honourable waters, made so by being the instrument of thy glorious work.

Verse 11

Amongst the gods, so called and esteemed; or prince or potentates, as Psalms 29:1; Ezekiel 32:21.

Glorious in holiness, or, righteousness: thy power is great and glorious; but thou dost not abuse it to unrighteous and unworthy purposes, but to holy and honourable designs; to the punishment of wicked tyrants, and to the vindication of thy oppressed and holy people.

Fearful in praises; in praise-worthy actions; the act being put for the object, as fear is put for a thing to be feared, as Psalms 14:5; 1 Peter 3:14. Or, to be feared or had in reverence when thou art praised; to be both loved and feared at the same time.

Verse 12


1. The globe, consisting of earth and water, which is here called earth; as it is called the deep, and the water s, Genesis 1:2. Or,

2. The earth is here put for the sea, the other part of the same globe; as the soul is put for the body, or the dead carcass, the other part of the man, Leviticus 19:28; Leviticus 21:1; Numbers 6:6,Numbers 6:9,Numbers 6:11. Or,

3. The earth properly, either because many of them sunk into the mud at the bottom of the sea, and were buried in it; or because, after they were cast up upon the shore, they were buried by the Israelites in the earth.

Verse 13

i.e. Canaan, the place where not only they shall dwell, but thou in and with them. See Psalms 78:52, &c.

Verse 16

Be as still, or, be as silent; they shall be so struck. with amazement, that they shall be impotent both for speech and motion.

Verse 17

In the mountain of thine inheritance; either,

1. In the country of Canaan, which is a mountainous country, full of hills and valleys, Deuteronomy 11:11; not like Egypt, a plain and low country. Or,

2. In and about the mount of Moriah, where the temple was to be built, which is here put for the whole land, it being the most eminent part of it, round about which the people were planted, and to which they were frequently to resort.

Have established; will certainly build and establish, i.e. cause to be built and established. The past tense for the future, to note the certainty of it, according to the style of the prophets.

Verse 20

Miriam the prophetess; so called, either in a general sense, because she was an instructer of other women in the praise and service of God; or in a more special sense, because she had the Spirit of prophecy. See Numbers 12:2; Micah 6:4.

The sister of Aaron

Quest. Why not of Moses also?

Answ. 1. She might be Moses’s sister only by one parent, Aaron’s by both.

2. She was best known to the people by her relation to Aaron, with whom she had lived for many years, when Moses was banished.

With timbrels and with dances, according to their ancient custom in public solemnities. See Judges 11:34; Judges 21:21; 1 Samuel 18:6; 2 Samuel 6:14,2 Samuel 6:21; Jeremiah 31:4,Jeremiah 31:13.

Verse 21

Miriam addressed either,

1. The women, last spoken of, and then it is an enallage of the gender. Or,

2. The men spoken of before. They sung by turns, or by parts, either the same words being repeated, or some other words of a like nature added. See 1 Chronicles 16:41; 2 Chronicles 5:13; Ezra 3:11.

Verse 22

Shur; so usually called, Genesis 16:7; and by the Israelites, Etham, as may be gathered by comparing this place with Numbers 33:8, for both there and here it is said they went three days in this wilderness.

Verse 25

The waters were made sweet, not so much by any virtue in that tree, as by the power of God, who used this rather as a sign to the Israelites, than as an instrument to himself in this work.

There he made for them a statute: God, or Moses in God’s name, and by his order, constituted and published to them a statute. Which seems to be understood not of any, particular statute or law, as that concerning the sabbath, or their duty to their parents, or the like; for the specifying of their duties is reserved to another time and place; but of a general law or rule formerly given, and now solemnly renewed by Moses at God’s command, like that given to Abraham their father, Genesis 17:1, Walk before me, and be perfect. God having thus far performed his part of that covenant made with Abraham and his seed, to bring them out of Egypt towards Canaan, tells them that he expects and requires of them their observance of the condition of that covenant, and gives them this indefinite and universal law or precept, that they should obey and fulfil all the commands which God had already laid upon them or their parents, and which he should hereafter reveal to them. This sense may be gathered out of the following verse, wherein he explains what he meant by this

statute, even all God’s statutes or commandments, which if they would keep, he engageth himself to preserve and deliver them. So it is only a change of the number, the singular, statute, being put for the plural, statutes, which is a figure very frequently used both in Scripture and in other authors. God having now eased them of the hard and iron yoke of the Egyptians, puts his sweet and easy yoke upon them; and having undertaken to be their King, and Protector, and Captain, he claims their subjection to himself, and to his laws or statutes.

He proved them, or, tried them, i.e. the Israelites. There he tried both their faith by the difficulty now mentioned, viz. their want of water, and their future obedience by this general command, which he is about to branch forth into divers particulars.

Verse 26

None of these diseases upon thee, nor other evils or plagues; but, on the contrary, I will bless thee with all manner of blessings. Under one branch or part of the blessings of God’s covenant, he includes all the rest by a very common synecdoche.

That healeth thee; or, thy physician, for all thy maladies both of soul and body.

Verse 27

Palm trees were both pleasant for their shade, and refreshing for their sweet fruit. Thus the Israelites are obliged and encouraged to the obedience commanded, by being put into better circumstances than they were under in their last station.

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Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Exodus 15". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. 1685.