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 342
342 MARK LEUCHTER
The language of the poem repeatedly takes up the language of
Israelâ€™s kinship networks and the agrarian praxes that defined
them. YHWH fights in Israelâ€™s battles against external threats, plants
Israelâ€™s seed in the soil, resides alongside Israel in the hill country,
and engages in acts of redemption. In deploying these terms, the
theme of YHWHâ€™s divine kinship emerges. This is adopted as offi-
cial ancestral doctrine when considered alongside the poetâ€™s initial
declaration that YHWH is, indeed, an ancestral deity to whom sub-
sequent generation must show filial piety (whnmmr)w yb) yhl) in v.
2). Exod 15, then, attempts to incorporate the religion of the family
and clan into the wider panoply of the national religious experience 89.
The notion of YHWH as a divine kinsman has often been noted as
an important dimension of Israelâ€™s religious conception 90. The term is
applied to YHWH most prominently in Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah (e.g.,
Isa 43,14; 63,16) in relation to greater theologies of national redemp-
tion 91. Just as YHWH redeemed Israel at the dawn of its existence dur-
ing the Exodus, so too does he redeem them alongside the rise of
Persia. However, the l)g language is not simply a theological con-
struct applied to late exilic or Persian era politics. A recent study by J.
Untermann, for instance, addresses the social background of the con-
cept 92. Untermann notes, crucially, that the term applies to the blood-
redeemer, i.e., a kinsman who defends the integrity and honor of the
kinship group against an enemy or oppressive, violent force. Consid-
ering the emphasis in Exod 15 on YHWHâ€™s violent championing of Is-
rael against external threat â€” a central tenet of kinship responsibility
in the pre-exilic period 93 â€” the appearance of the l)g language therein
(v. 13) is appropriate.
So also MILLER, The Divine Warrior, 162-163.
See among others P. NISKASEN, â€œYHWH as Father, Redeemer, and Potter
in Isaiah 63:7-64:11â€, CBQ 68 (2006) 407; CROSS, From Epic to Canon, 6-7.
NISKASEN notes that the term l)g is rarely used for YHWH outside of
Deutero- and Trito-Isaiah (â€œYHWH as Father, Redeemer, and Potterâ€, 402), but
he does cite Psalms 19 and 78 (the latter of which, as we have seen, is certainly
pre-exilic) as among the sources beyond the Book of Isaiah where this term is
applied. Niskasen does not discuss the function of the term in Exod 15,13.
J. UNTERMANN, â€œThe Social-Legal Origin for the Image of God as Redeemer
l)wg of Israelâ€, Pomegranates and Golden Bells. Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and
Near Eastern Ritual, Law and Literature in Honor of Jacob Milgrom (eds. D.P.
WRIGHT â€“ D.N. FREEDMAN â€“ A. HURVITZ) (Winona Lake, IN 1995) 399-405.
CROSS, From Epic to Canon, 4. It is precisely this expectation of de-
fensive allegiance that the poet behind Judg 5 employs in his chiding of tribes