New American Bible (Revised Edition)
1 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: 2 Speak to the Israelites: Let them turn about and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea.(A) Camp in front of Baal-zephon,[a] just opposite, by the sea. 3 Pharaoh will then say, “The Israelites are wandering about aimlessly in the land. The wilderness has closed in on them.” 4 I will so harden Pharaoh’s heart that he will pursue them. Thus I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.
This the Israelites did. 5 (B)When it was reported to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart about the people. “What in the world have we done!” they said. “We have released Israel from our service!” 6 So Pharaoh harnessed his chariots and took his army with him. 7 He took six hundred select chariots and all the chariots of Egypt, with officers[b] on all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites while they were going out in triumph. 9 The Egyptians pursued them—all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, his horsemen,[c] and his army—and caught up with them as they lay encamped by the sea, at Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
Crossing the Red Sea. 10 Now Pharaoh was near when the Israelites looked up and saw that the Egyptians had set out after them. Greatly frightened, the Israelites cried out to the Lord. 11 To Moses they said, “Were there no burial places in Egypt that you brought us to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Did we not tell you this in Egypt, when we said, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? Far better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 But Moses answered the people, “Do not fear! Stand your ground and see the victory the Lord will win for you today. For these Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”
15 Then the Lord said to Moses: Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to set out. 16 And you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea, and split it in two, that the Israelites may pass through the sea on dry land. 17 But I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them, and I will receive glory through Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I receive glory through Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.
19 The angel of God,[d] who had been leading Israel’s army, now moved and went around behind them. And the column of cloud, moving from in front of them, took up its place behind them, 20 so that it came between the Egyptian army and that of Israel. And when it became dark, the cloud illumined the night; and so the rival camps did not come any closer together all night long.[e] 21 (C)Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord drove back the sea with a strong east wind all night long and turned the sea into dry ground. The waters were split, 22 so that the Israelites entered into the midst of the sea on dry land, with the water as a wall to their right and to their left.
Rout of the Egyptians. 23 The Egyptians followed in pursuit after them—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen—into the midst of the sea. 24 But during the watch just before dawn, the Lord looked down from a column of fiery cloud upon the Egyptian army and threw it into a panic; 25 and he so clogged their chariot wheels that they could drive only with difficulty. With that the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, because the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26 Then the Lord spoke to Moses: Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the water may flow back upon the Egyptians, upon their chariots and their horsemen. 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea returned to its normal flow. The Egyptians were fleeing head on toward it when the Lord cast the Egyptians into the midst of the sea. 28 (D)As the water flowed back, it covered the chariots and the horsemen. Of all Pharaoh’s army which had followed the Israelites into the sea, not even one escaped. 29 But the Israelites had walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, with the water as a wall to their right and to their left. 30 Thus the Lord saved Israel on that day from the power of Egypt. When Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the seashore 31 and saw the great power that the Lord had shown against Egypt, the people feared the Lord. They believed in the Lord(E) and in Moses his servant.
I will sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.
2 My strength and my refuge is the Lord,
and he has become my savior.(G)
This is my God, I praise him;
the God of my father, I extol him.
3 The Lord is a warrior,
Lord is his name!
4 Pharaoh’s chariots and army he hurled into the sea;
the elite of his officers were drowned in the Red Sea.[g]
5 The flood waters covered them,
they sank into the depths like a stone.(H)
6 Your right hand, O Lord, magnificent in power,
your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy.
7 In your great majesty you overthrew your adversaries;
you loosed your wrath to consume them like stubble.
8 At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up,
the flowing waters stood like a mound,
the flood waters foamed in the midst of the sea.
9 The enemy boasted, “I will pursue and overtake them;
I will divide the spoils and have my fill of them;
I will draw my sword; my hand will despoil them!”
10 When you blew with your breath, the sea covered them;
like lead they sank in the mighty waters.
11 Who is like you among the gods, O Lord?
Who is like you, magnificent among the holy ones?
Awe-inspiring in deeds of renown, worker of wonders,
12 when you stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them!
13 In your love[h] you led the people you redeemed;
in your strength you guided them to your holy dwelling.
14 The peoples heard and quaked;
anguish gripped the dwellers in Philistia.
15 Then were the chieftains of Edom dismayed,
the nobles of Moab seized by trembling;
All the inhabitants of Canaan melted away;
16 (I)terror and dread fell upon them.
By the might of your arm they became silent like stone,
while your people, Lord, passed over,
while the people whom you created passed over.[i]
17 You brought them in, you planted them
on the mountain that is your own—
The place you made the base of your throne, Lord,
the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.
18 May the Lord reign forever and ever!
19 When Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen entered the sea, the Lord made the waters of the sea flow back upon them, though the Israelites walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.(J) 20 Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, while all the women went out after her with tambourines, dancing; 21 and she responded[j] to them:
Sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously triumphant;
horse and chariot he has cast into the sea.(K)
V. The Journey in the Wilderness to Sinai
At Marah and Elim. 22 (L)Then Moses led Israel forward from the Red Sea,[k] and they marched out to the wilderness of Shur. After traveling for three days through the wilderness without finding water, 23 they arrived at Marah, where they could not drink its water, because it was too bitter. Hence this place was called Marah. 24 As the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” 25 he cried out to the Lord, who pointed out to him a piece of wood. When he threw it into the water, the water became fresh.(M)
It was here that God, in making statutes and ordinances for them, put them to the test. 26 He said: If you listen closely to the voice of the Lord, your God, and do what is right in his eyes: if you heed his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not afflict you with any of the diseases with which I afflicted the Egyptians;(N) for I, the Lord, am your healer.
27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.(O)
- 14:2 Pi-hahiroth…Migdol…Baal-zephon: these places have not been definitively identified. Even the relative position of Pi-hahiroth and Baal-zephon is not clear; perhaps the former was on the west shore of the sea, where the Israelites were, and the latter on the opposite shore.
- 14:7 Officers: cf. 1 Kgs 9:22; Ez 23:15. The Hebrew word shalish, rendered in 1 Kgs 9:22 as “adjutant,” has yet to have its meaning convincingly established. Given the very possible etymological connection with the number “three,” others suggest the translation “three-man crew” or, less likely, the “third man in the chariot” although Egyptian chariots carried two-man crews. The author of the text may have been describing the chariots of his experience without direct historical knowledge of Egyptian ways.
- 14:9 Horsemen: the usage here may be anachronistic, since horsemen, or cavalry, play a part in warfare only at the end of the second millennium B.C.
- 14:19 Angel of God: Hebrew mal’ak ha’elohim (Septuagint ho angelos tou theou) here refers not to an independent spiritual being but to God’s power at work in the world; corresponding to the column of cloud/fire, the expression more clearly preserves a sense of distance between God and God’s creatures. The two halves of the verse are parallel and may come from different narrative sources.
- 14:20 The reading of the Hebrew text here is uncertain. The image is of a darkly glowing storm cloud, ominously bright, keeping the two camps apart.
This poem, regarded by many scholars as one of the oldest compositions in the Bible, was once an independent work. It has been inserted at this important juncture in the large narrative of Exodus to celebrate God’s saving power, having miraculously delivered the people from their enemies, and ultimately leading them to the promised land.
Although the victory it describes over the Egyptians at the sea bears a superficial resemblance in v. 8 to the preceding depiction of the water standing like a wall (14:22), the poem (as opposed to the following prose verse, v. 19) suggests a different version of the victory at sea than that found in chap. 14. There is no splitting of the sea in an act reminiscent of the Lord’s combat at creation with the sea monsters Rahab and Leviathan (Jb 9:13; 26:12; Ps 74:13–14; 89:11; Is 51:9–10); nor is there mention of an east wind driving the waters back so that the Israelites can cross. In this version it is by means of a storm at sea, caused by a ferocious blast from his nostrils, that the Lord achieves a decisive victory against Pharaoh and his army (vv. 1–12). The second half of the poem (vv. 13–18) describes God’s guidance into the promised land.
- 15:4 Red Sea: the traditional translation of the Hebrew yam suph, which actually means “Sea of Reeds” or “reedy sea.” The location is uncertain, though in view of the route taken by the Israelites from Egypt to Sinai, it could not have been the Red Sea, which is too far south. It was probably a smaller body of water south of the Gulf of Suez. The term occurs also in Exodus at 10:19; 13:18; and 23:31.
- 15:13 Love: the very important Hebrew term hesed carries a variety of nuances depending on context: love, kindness, faithfulness. It is often rendered “steadfast love.” It implies a relationship that generates an obligation and therefore is at home in a covenant context. Cf. 20:6.
- 15:16 Passed over: an allusion to the crossing of the Jordan River (cf. Jos 3–5), written as if the entry into the promised land had already occurred. This verse suggests that at one time there was a ritual enactment of the conquest at a shrine near the Jordan River which included also a celebration of the victory at the sea.
- 15:21 She responded: Miriam’s refrain echoes the first verse of this song and was probably sung as an antiphon after each verse.
- 15:22 Red Sea: see note on Ex 15:4.