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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330 MARK LEUCHTER
preserved its original, archaic linguistic features in the copy eventu-
ally utilized by the Exodus narrativeâ€™s redactor.
We may go further, in fact, and support Russellâ€™s view that the
current form of the poem reflects a compositional unity by noting
that this process of textualization must have included the entirety of
the work in its canonical form 35. Had Exod 15 undergone stages of
redactional development, some less-archaic linguistic elements would
have invariably crept into its verses. As studies of ancient scribal
methodology have demonstrated, redaction of older material provides
ample opportunity for change based on the scribesâ€™ own cultural, ide-
ological and linguistic predilections 36. A comparison with Judg 5 is
instructive here. As some scholars have noted, Judg 5 originated in
the 12th century BCE but received redactional expansion in the 10th
century 37. This expansion would account for the minor introduction
of less-archaic linguistic forms into its verses. The utter lack of such
linguistic features in Exod 15 suggests that it was not subjected to
similar redactional/textualizing processes. Rather, it was committed
to text in a wholesale manner and remained fixed in such an unadul-
terated form, at least insofar as the archival source utilized by the
redactor of the Exodus narrative is concerned.
When might this period of textualization have taken place? I
would proposed that we should consider the period of the early
monarchy under David and Solomon as the background to this
process, and several lines of evidence converge to support this pro-
posal. First, scribal activity and propaganda are characteristic of
shifts in power and the accession of rulers in the Ancient Near East.
The production of such literature surely benefits from a well-devel-
exiles of 597 BCE, for whom both Jeremiah and Ezekiel identify an ongoing
covenantal relationship with YHWH. Temple scribes of the Persian period would
have invariably inherited these and other texts after the waves of imperially-
RUSSELL, Song, 19-23.
CARR, Tablet of the Heart, 148-149; B.M. LEVINSON, Deuteronomy and
the Hermeneutics of Legal Innovation (New York â€“ Oxford 1997) 23-52 (re:
redactional reworking of diverse sources in Deuteronomy 12); VAN DER
TOORN, Scribal Culture, 115.
C.L. ECHOLS, â€œTell Me, O Museâ€. The Song of Deborah (Judges 5) in
the Light of Heroic Poetry (LHBOTS 487; London â€“ New York 2008). R. DE
HOOP, â€œJudges 5 Reconsidered: Which Tribes? What Land? Whose Song?â€,
The Land of Israel in Bible, History and Theology (eds. J. VAN RUITEN â€“
J.C. DE VOS) (VTS 124; Leiden 2009) 151-166.