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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EISODUS AS EXODUS: THE SONG OF THE SEA
became subsumed under the heading of Egypt, and all battles be-
came expressions of YHWHâ€™s cosmic conflict with the Pharaoh and
IV. Mythologizing kinship and the agrarian ideal:
the second half of Exod 15
Consequently, the survival of the highland population against
persistent attacks and the continuity of life in the hinterland would
be commemorated as a mythic expression of divine action as well.
To wit, the second half of Exod 15, and especially its closing
verses, presents YHWHâ€™s protection of Israel in decidedly agrarian
terms 64, specifying the merits of vigilantly engaging in such defen-
In your loyalty (Kydsx) you lead the people that you redeem (tl)g);
You guide them in your strength to your holy encampment (K#dq hwn)
You bring them in, and plant them (wm(+tw)
In your highland estate (Ktlxn rhb) 65;
The dais of your throne 66 (Ktb#l Nwkm) which you have made for
The sanctuary, Oh Lord, which your hands have established (#dqm
Kydy wnnwk ynd)),
YHWH shall reign forever and ever. (Exod 15,17-18)
RUSSELL, Song, 30, suggests that YHWH makes the transition from warrior
to shepherd in Exod 15. This remains a possible reading, especially given his
view that the â€œmountainâ€ is Sinai to which YHWH leads his people after their
battle with the Egyptians (Song, 25). However, the ensuing discussion will il-
lustrate that it is farming imagery that seems to dominate the second half of the
poem, and that the â€œmountainâ€ be read differently.
I translate Ktlxn as â€œyour estateâ€ here based on the typical translation/func-
tion of this same term in other contexts dealing with the ancestral estate in hin-
terland communities. However, the phrase may also be read as â€œthe highlands of
the [people of] your inheritanceâ€, based on the view that Israel itself is the hlxn
of YHWH. See T.J. LEWIS, â€œThe Ancestral Estate (Myhl) tlxn) in 2 Samuel
14:16â€, JBL 110 (1991) 597-600.
I here adjust only slightly the translation of the phrase as suggested by
CROSS, CMHE, 125, n. 43.