Mark Leuchter, «Eisodus as Exodus: The Song of the Sea (Exod 15) Reconsidered.», Vol. 92 (2011) 321-346
This study continues a line of inquiry from the author’s previous essay regarding the 12th century BCE battle traditions embedded in the Song of Deborah (Judg 5) as the basis for a nascent Exodus ideology surfacing in the Song of the Sea (Exod 15). Exod 15 is identified as developing an agrarian ideal into a basis for national identity: Israel’s successful struggles against competing Canaanite military forces echoing earlier Egyptian imperial hegemony is liturgized into a myth where YHWH defeats the Egyptian foe and then settles his own sacred agrarian estate.
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Biblica_1:Layout 1 21-11-2011 12:59 Pagina 328
328 MARK LEUCHTER
early transcription, and thus early date, of the work. Oral modalities
remained in vogue alongside the growth of writing throughout the
duration of the pre-exilic period (and even beyond) 28, and one
might conceivably argue that the poem was committed to writing at
a late date with those archaic forms intact. This would impede our
ability to use the poem as a barometer of Iron I socio-religious pre-
suppositions, since it remains possible that a fairly late scribe may
have textualized a poem with archaic forms that did not actually
originate in an archaic period.
A solution to this problem rests in a comparison with another
poem embedded in the Pentateuch that is often regarded as holding
a very ancient pedigree, namely, the Song of Moses (Deut 32). A re-
cent article by M. Thiessen calls attention to the fact that while Deut
32 contains a primarily archaic linguistic character, the poem exhibits
a measurable degree of flourishes touting later linguistic features 29.
The traditional position taken by scholars on this matter is that either
the poemâ€™s author worked at a somewhat late period and introduced
deliberate archaizing language into his composition, or that the poem
was written during a period of linguistic transition (e.g., the 9th-8th
centuries BCE) 30. Thiessen offers a more attractive proposal, how-
ever: Deut 32 was composed in a fairly early period, but the introduc-
tion of later forms into the poem accompanied regular cultic recitation
over many generations 31. Thiessenâ€™s model accounts for many of the
problems traditionally associated with determining the setting and
function of Deut 32, as well as its ultimate place within the Book of
Deuteronomy 32. Following Thiessenâ€™s observations, the textualiza-
CARR, Tablet of the Heart, 126-128. The persistence of oral-centered
discourse is felt even in much later times when textuality had become a more
familiar enterprise. See E. SHANKS ALEXANDER, â€œThe Orality of Rabbinic
Writingâ€, The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature
(eds. M. JAFFEE â€“ C.E. FONROBERT) (New York â€“ Cambridge 2007) 38-55.
M. THIESSEN, â€œThe Form and Function of the Song of Moses
(Deuteronomy 32:1-43)â€, JBL 123 (2004) 401-424.
D.A. ROBERTSON, Linguistic Evidence in Dating Early Hebrew Poetry
(SBLD 3; Missoula, MT 1972) 154-155; S.A. NIGOSIAN, â€œLinguistic Patterns
of Deuteronomy 32â€, Bib 78 (1997) 223-224.
THIESSEN, â€œSong of Mosesâ€, 422.
As I have suggested in a previous study, the place of this poem as a
northern Levite liturgy moved the redactors of Deuteronomy to place it in the
closing frame of the pre-exilic edition of the book, cf. M. LEUCHTER, â€œWhy
is the Song of Moses in the Book of Deuteronomy?â€, VT 57 (2007) 314.