Today we begin Exodus Chapter 15.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James Version, click here.
The first 21 verses of Chapter 15 are often called the “Song of Moses” and sometimes also called the “Song at the Sea”.
In Hebrew this is SHIRAT HA-YAM.
Of course, the primary sentiments expressed in this ancient poem are Israel’s great joy and pride at HASHEM’s victory over the Egyptian forces.
However, another more important idea that crystalizes in the final section of this song is that God has now created a nation.
Thus, this could be considered the founding song of the nation of Israel.
Now I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade here but the words of this song cannot carry the same weight as what we have read in the previous chapters of Exodus.
The reason is because intermixed with the facts are ancient cultural traditions of just HOW one creates a victory song after a military victory.
This is a song created by man.
When I say that I mean that the exaggerations and prideful expressions of great joy over the death of thousands of Egyptian soldiers contained in this song are not necessarily a 100% accurate reflection of God’s thoughts.
Rather they are man’s spontaneous response to the great victory that has occurred.
Included in this song is some rather premature gloating over how the news of this victory must now have the Canaanites and Philistines quaking in their boots.
All of the powerful and expressive words used like smashed, shattered, shuddered, terrified, dread and so on are very typical of the highly charged emotions contained within the military victory songs in those days.
The poetic beginning also reflects ancient Near Eastern literary convention of announcing the topic and the act of the song at the beginning of the poem.
This is quite similar to the Greek and Latin convention for beginning an epic.
Think of Virgil’s “Of arms and the man I sing”.
Don’t be alarmed that I said this particular section of Scripture shouldn’t carry the same weight as what we read in the previous sections of Exodus.
The truth is all of our worship music has been created in the same way.
The songs we sing are expressing the best way we can through lyrics and music our understanding and interpretations of heavenly things and what it is we think we see God doing and how we think God wants to be praised and honored.
And of course, this is all being done within the confines of our own traditional music structures, modern musical instruments and performance methods familiar within our culture.
That’s all that is happening here, except the setting is ancient Israelite culture.
The takeaway for this post, rather than being some lofty life application spiritual lesson, is more practical in nature.
The takeaway is this.
When studying Scripture, it is important to recognize that various types of literature are present.
Wisdom and discernment are needed to distinguish between what is a reflection of God’s mind and what is a reflection of man’s mind.
Failure to do so can lead to all kinds of retarded doctrinal error.
There are many instances in Scripture of man NOT telling the truth.
There are also many instances of man ascribing something to God that just isn’t so.
We will see King David do it on more than one occasion.
Another good example is Peter lying that he knew about Yeshua.
The Scriptures are simply an accurate account of what happened and what was said whether it is flattering to a particular bible character or not, or even whether it is pleasing to God or not.
We are not shown a one-sided view of the characters in the Bible.
The bad along with the good is presented, warts and all.
This I believe is all the more reason why we can trust the Scriptures.