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 338
338 MARK LEUCHTER
The terms Kydsx, K#dq, Ktlxn rh and #dqm lead many scholars
see Exod 15 as a composition of the monarchic period or later, con-
sonant as these collective terms are with the language of the Zion tra-
dition 67. This remains possible, and the very fact that the poem was
edited by a Jerusalemite scribe into the Exodus narrative as it now
stands obviously indicates that it was part of the literary legacy inher-
ited by the Jerusalemite literati 68. However, it is also possible that the
appearance of these terms in the Zion tradition represent the appropri-
ation of images and language from an older Israelite liturgical work for
the purposes of legitimizing the formation of the Davidic monarchy 69.
A possible argument against this is that the 8th century BCE oracles
of Isaiah make no overt allusions to Exod 15, which may lead some
to conclude that Isaiah did not know the poem. Two factors, however,
provide potential explanations for this. First, Isaiahâ€™s oracles are geared
to promote Zion-centric ideology in the face of Ephraimite refugees,
among whom the Exodus tradition was the dominant myth 70. The or-
acles of Amos make clear that a Judahite Exodus tradition existed
(though distinct in conception from the Ephraimite Exodus tradition),
but as Y. Hoffman has proposed, it was eclipsed by the Davidic myth
in the religious/political discourse of Judah 71. Isaiahâ€™s rhetoric, steeped
in the Zion tradition and Davidic myth, may have been shaped to set
boundaries against the influence of Ephraimite tradition in Jerusalem
following the fall of the north in 721 BCE and the influence of their
traditions among the cityâ€™s elite 72. If Exod 15 was read as part of an
See, for instance, S.I.L. NORIN, Er spaltete das Meer. Die Auszugs-
Ã¼berlieferung in Psalmen und Kult des Alten Israel (Lund 1977) 36-40;
KREUZER, Die FrÃ¼hgeschichte Israels, 247-248; B.F. BATTO, Slaying the Dra-
gon. Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition (Louisville, KY 1992) 109 (see,
however, his earlier argument in â€œReed Seaâ€, 30-31, n. 13); SPIECKERMANN,
See above re: the use of the poem in Psalm 78.
On this see the poignant observation of D.S. VANDERHOOFT, â€œDwelling
beneath the Sacred Space: A Proposal for Readingâ€, JBL 118 (1999) 627-628.
See SCHNIEDEWIND, How the Bible Became a Book, 87. On the Exodus
as a â€œcharterâ€ myth for the northern Israelite state, see K. VAN DER TOORN,
Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria, and Israel (Leiden 1996) 287-301.
Y. HOFFMAN, â€œA North Israelite Typological Myth and a Judean Histor-
ical Tradition: The Exodus in Hosea and Amosâ€, VT 39 (1989) 169-182.
Further to this point see SCHNIEDEWIND, How the Bible Became a Book,
73-90, who notes the sociopolitical effects of northern refugees at this time.