Exodus 15:11-21

Exodus 15:11-21
Maundy Thursday – A Women’s Lectionary


11 “Who is like you, O Lord,A among the gods?B
    Who is like you, majesticC in holiness,D

Notes on verse 11a

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “gods” = el. This can refer to God or a god. It can also refer to power, an idol, or one that is powerful.
C “majestic” = adar. 3x in OT. This is wide, glorious, honorable, great, magnificent. Properly, it is to expand.
D “holiness” = qodesh. This is set apart and so sacred. God is different from us and so God is holy/set apart. Things we dedicate to God’s service are set apart for God and so they, too, are holy, etc.

    awesomeE in splendor,F doingG wonders?H

Notes on verse 11b

E “awesome” = yare. This is to fear, be afraid, dreadful. It can also refer to fearful reverence – to fear in a moral sense is to say to revere, respect.
F “splendor” = tehillah. From halal (to praise, be boastful). This is praise or a song of praise. It is to offer God a hymn, to boast in God. This shares a root with “hallelujah.”
G “doing” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, become in many senses.
H “wonders” = pele. 13x in OT. This is a wonder, marvelous thing, or a miracle.

12 You stretched outI your right hand,J
    the earthK swallowedL them.

Notes on verse 12

I “stretched out” = natah. This is to stretch or spread out, to extend, or bend. In can also imply moral deflection.
J “right hand” = yamin. May be from yamam (to go or choose the right, use the right hand; to be physically fit or firm). This can mean right hand, right side, or south. Since most people are right-handed, the metaphorical usage of this word presumes that the right hand is stronger and more agile. Thus, it is the instrument of power and action.
K “earth” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
L “swallowed” = bala. This is to swallow, engulf, cover, or destroy.

13 “In your steadfast loveM you ledN the peopleO whom you redeemed;P

Notes on verse 13a

M “steadfast love” = chesed. From chasad (being good, kind, merciful; may mean bowing one’s neck as is done in the presence of an equal for courtesy’s sake; so, if one in a superior position is treating you like an equal, that is what is captured here). This is favor, goodness, kindness, loving kindness, pity, reproach, or a good deed. When done by God to humanity, this is mercy/loving kindness. When done by humanity to God, it is piety.
N “led” = nachah. This is lead, guide, or bring. It can be used for transporting into exile or coming in as colonists. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me in the paths of righteousness.”
O “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.
P “redeemed” = gaal. This is to redeem someone or something according to kinship laws. So, it could be acting on a relative’s behalf to buy back their property, to marry one’s brother’s widow, etc. This could be more briefly translated as to redeem, acts as kinsman, or purchase. As a noun, it could be deliverer or avenger.

    you guidedQ them by your strengthR to your holy abode.S

Notes on verse 13b

Q “guided” = nahal. 10x in OT. This is leading or guiding – specifically to a resting place or somewhere where there is water. So, it can mean to refresh or feed, protect or sustain. The word itself carries a sense of flowing, sparkling water. This is the word used in Psalm 23 “he leads me beside still waters.”
R “strength” = oz. From azaz (to be strong, become fixed, be bold, prevail, be impudent; it means to be stout literally or figuratively. A Late Hebrew word). This is strength in the sense of force, majesty, praise, material and physical strength, the abstract notion of security. It can also speak of social or political power.
S “abode” = naveh. From navah (home, beautify, praise) This is home, place where shepherd or sheep live. It is at home – implies a lovely place or a place of satisfaction. It can also be used for the Temple or a pasture as the home of wild animals.

14 The peoples heard,T they trembled;U
    pangsV seizedW the inhabitantsX of Philistia.Y

Notes on verse 14

T “heard” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.
U “trembled” = ragaz. This is shaking from any strong emotion, particularly anger or fear. It can be agitated, excited, perturbed, afraid, quaking, quivering.
V “pangs” = chil. 7x in OT. From chul (whirling around so dancing as in a circle or writhing in pain; used particularly for the pain of childbirth or from writhing due to fear; can also be falling in pain or waiting). This is writhing, pain, pang, or anguish. It can be used specifically for labor pains.
W “seized” = achaz. This is to grasp, catch, seize, take and hold in possession. It can also be to be afraid or hold back.
X “inhabitants” = yashab. This is to sit and so to remain and so to dwell. It is sitting for any reason – as a judge, in order to ambush, or just sitting quietly. Causatively, this can mean settling or marrying. This can also mean continue, endure, or establish.
Y “Philistia” = Peleshet. 8x in OT. From palash (to mourn, wallow, maybe roll in). This is Philistia, which may mean “griever” or “burrower” or “weakener.” See https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Philistine.html.

15 Then the chiefsZ of EdomAA were dismayed;BB

Notes on verse 15a

Z “chiefs” = alluph. From alaph (to learn, speak, associate with). This is a friend, something gentle like a tame bull. It can also refer to someone who is noble or a leader like a captain, guide, or governor.
AA “Edom” = Edom. From the same as adom (to be red or flushed). This is Edom or Idumaea. It means red.
BB “dismayed” = bahal. To be afraid or dismayed or amazed. This is deep trembling within. So, figuratively, it refers to being suddenly agitated. This implies moving or acting quickly/anxiously.

    tremblingCC seized the leadersDD of Moab;EE

Notes on verse 15b

CC “trembling” = ra’ad. 5x in OT. From ra’ad (to tremble or shudder with more or less force). This is trembling or quaking.
DD “leaders” = ayil. From the same as ul (mighty, strength, body, belly; root may mean to twist and that implies strength and power). This is strength so it is used to indicate things that are strong or powerful: political chiefs, rams, posts, trees, oaks.
EE “Moab” = Moab. May be from ab (father, ancestor, grandfather; father in a literal or figurative sense). This is Moab or Moabite. Name could mean “from her father” in reference to the incestuous relationship between Lot and his daughters. The name could also mean, more pleasantly, “seed of a father” or “desirable land.” See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moab

    allFF the inhabitants of CanaanGG melted away.HH

Notes on verse 15c

FF “all” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
GG “Canaan” = Kna’an. From kana’ (to be humble, subdue; properly, bend the knee). This is Canaan, his descendants, and the land where they settled. This could mean lowlands, describing their land or subjugated in reference to being conquered by Egypt. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canaan
HH “melted away” = mug. 17x in OT. This is to let, dissolve, soften, flow. It can also mean to fear, dishearten, be faint, or disappear.

16 TerrorII and dreadJJ fellKK upon them;

Notes on verse 16a

II “terror” = emah. 17x in OT. From the same as ayom (dreadful, frightful, awesome). This is terror, fright, horror, fearsome, idol.
JJ “dread” = pachad. From pachad (to dread, be afraid, thrill, be in awe; feeling startled from a sudden sound or alarm). This is dread, fear, awe, panic. It can also refer to what someone fears or dreads.
KK “fell” = naphal. This is to fall, whether by accident, to fall prostrate, or to fall in violent death. Figuratively, it can refer to personal ruin or calamity, a city falling, an attack or a falling away. It can also be a deep sleep or wasting away.

    by the mightLL of your arm,MM they became stillNN as a stoneOO
until your people, O Lord, passed by,PP
    until the people whom you acquiredQQ passed by.

Notes on verse 16b

LL “might” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
MM “arm” = zeroa. Perhaps from zara (to sow, scatter seed, conceive). This is the arm, shoulder, or foreleg of an animal. It is figuratively used for power, force, might, or help.
NN “became still” = damam. This is to cease, be or become mute, silent, still, cut off, hold peace, be astonished, or die.
OO “stone” = eben. This is a stone, weight, or mason. It is part of the word “Ebenezer.”
PP “passed by” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
QQ “acquired” = qanah. This is to acquire, create, purchase, own. Its root may mean to smith or to produce.

17 You brought them inRR and plantedSS them on the mountainTT of your own possession,UU

Notes on verse 17a

RR “brought…in” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
SS “planted” = nata. To fix or fasten, establish or plant. This is planting in a literal or figurative sense.
TT “mountain” = har. From harar (hill or mountain). This is mountain, hill, hilly region.
UU “possession” = nachalah. Related to nachal (to inherit, occupy, distribute, take as heritage). This is properly something that was inherited. It can mean occupancy generally or, more particularly, an heirloom or an estate. This can be an inheritance, gift, possession, or portion.

    the place,VV O Lord, that you madeWW your abode,XX
    the sanctuary,YY O Lord, that your handsZZ have established.AAA

Notes on verse 17b

VV “place” = makon. 17x in OT. From kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is a foundation, fixture, basis. It can also be a place or abode as somewhere that is established.
WW “made” = paal. This is to do, make, work, or accomplish. Generally refers to regularly repeated or systematic action – so, to practice.
XX “abode” = yashab. Same as “inhabitants” in v14. See note X above.
YY “sanctuary” = miqdash. Related to “holiness” in v11. From the same as qodesh (see note D above). This is a sacred place, sanctuary, holy place. It is something or somewhere that is consecrated, whether to God or to another.
ZZ “hands” = yad. This is hand, ability, power. Hand in a literal sense, but also what one can do or the means by which one does it.
AAA “established” = kun. Related to “place” in v17. See note VV above.

18 The Lord will reignBBB foreverCCC and ever.”DDD

19 When the horsesEEE of PharaohFFF with his chariotsGGG

Notes on verses 18-19a

BBB “reign” = malak. To be or become king or queen, to rise to the throne, to be crowned. By implication, to take counsel. This word may be from the Hebrew word for king “melek” or vice versa.
CCC “forever” = olam. This is a long scope of time whether in the past (antiquity, ancient time) or in the future (eternal, everlasting).
DDD “ever” = ed. From adah (to adorn, continue). This is eternity, old, a duration.
EEE “horses” = sus. Root may mean to skip as in jump for joy. This is a crane or a swift bird. It is also a horse as leaping.
FFF “Pharaoh” = Paroh. From Egyptian pr (palace, pharaoh; literally house + great). This is Pharaoh, a title for Egyptian kings. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/pharaoh
GGG “chariots” = rekeb. From rakab (to ride an animal or in some vehicle; also, bringing on a horse). This is a vehicle, wagon, or chariot. It can be cavalry or an individual rider.

and his chariot driversHHH went intoIII the sea,JJJ the Lord brought backKKK the watersLLL of the sea upon them;

Notes on verse 19b

HHH “chariot drivers” = parash. From parash (to make distinct, separate, scatter; can also imply to wound). This is a horse or a person who rides a horse. A chariot driver or cavalry as a collective.
III “went into” = bo. Same as “brought…in” in v17. See note RR above.
JJJ “sea” = yam. Root may mean to roar. This is the sea, often referring to the Mediterranean. It comes from the root in the sense of the roar of crashing surf. This word is sometimes used for rivers or other sources of water. It can mean to the west or to the south.
KKK “brought back” = shub. To turn back, return, turn away – literally or figuratively. Doesn’t necessarily imply going back to where you started from. This is also the root verb for the Hebrew word for repentance “teshubah.”
LLL “waters” = mayim. This is water, waters, or waterway in a general sense. Figuratively, it can also mean juice, urine, or semen.

but the IsraelitesMMM walkedNNN throughOOO the sea on dry ground.PPP

Notes on verse 19c

MMM “Israelites” = ben + Yisrael. Literally, “children of Israel.” Ben is from banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense. Yisrael is related to “gods” in v11. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + el (see note B above). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.
NNN “walked” = halak. This is go, come, walk. It is walk literally and figuratively and includes people and animals. It can be used figuratively for one’s moral life – how we walk according to God’s way or against it. It can also refer to the walk of life as in the course one’s life takes, the choices we make, etc.
OOO “through” = tavek. This is among, middle, in the midst, the center. Perhaps, properly, to sever.
PPP “dry ground” = yabbashah. 14x in OT– word used for dry land in Genesis 1:9-10. From yabesh (to dry up, be withered, be dry; to be ashamed, confused, or disappointed). This is dry land or dry ground.

20 Then the prophetQQQ Miriam,RRR Aaron’sSSS sister,TTT

Notes on verse 20a

QQQ “prophet” = nebiah. 6x in OT– of Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Noadiah, and Isaiah’s wife. From nabi (prophet, prophecy, speaker; someone inspired). This is to prophesy. Older usages referred to raving, religious ecstasy that sometimes went along with music. In later usage, it was religious teachings that sometimes held prediction. Prophesying is speaking the truth of what is and where it will lead. This word is specifically used for female prophet.
RRR “Miriam” = Miryam. 15x in OT. From marah (to be contentious, rebellious, bitter, provoking, disobedient; to be or make bitter or unpleasant; figuratively, to rebel or resist; causatively to provoke). This is Miriam.
SSS “Aaron’s” = Aharon. Derivation uncertain. May mean “bearer of martyrs” OR be related to Ancient Egyptian ꜥḥꜣ rw (warrior lion) OR elevated, exalted, high mountain. This is Aaron. See https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Aaron
TTT “sister” = achot. From the same as ach (brother, kindred, another, other, like). This is sister in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean another or together.

tookUUU a tambourineVVV in her hand; and all the womenWWW went outXXX after her with tambourines and with dancing.YYY 

Notes on verse 20b

UUU “took” = laqach. This is to take, accept, carry away, receive. It can also have the sense of take a wife or take in marriage.
VVV “tambourine” = toph. 17x in OT. Perhaps from taphaph (to play a drum, timbrel, or tambourine). This is a timbrel or tambourine.
WWW “women” = ishshah. From ish (man); perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is woman, wife, or female.
XXX “went out” = yatsa. This is to go or come out, bring forth, appear. It is to go out in a literal or figurative sense.
YYY “dancing” = mecholah. Related to “pangs” in v14. 8x in OT. From machol (round dance); from chul (see note V above). This is a dance.

21 And Miriam sangZZZ to them:

“SingAAAA to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;BBBB
horse and riderCCCC he has thrownDDDD into the sea.”

Notes on verse 21

ZZZ “sang” = anah. This is answer, respond, announce, sing, shout, or testify. It means to pay attention, which implies responding and, by extension, starting to talk. Used in a specific sense for singing, shouting, testifying, etc.
AAAA “sing” = shir. From shir (song, singer). This is to sing. It could also refer to one who is singing or leading others in song.
BBBB “triumphed gloriously” = gaah + gaah. 7x in OT. This is to rise up, be exalted, triumph. Figuratively, it can mean to be majestic. The word is repeated twice – the first time as an Infinitive Absolute. The Infinitive Absolute serves to emphasize the sentiment of the word. It is rather like Foghorn Leghorn’s speech pattern, “I said, I said.”
CCCC “rider” = rakab. Related to “chariots” in v19. See note GGG above.
DDDD “thrown” = ramah. 13x in OT. This is to hurl, shoot, carry, or throw. Figuratively, it is to beguile, delude or betray. It can also refer to an archer.

Image credit: “The Israelites crossing the Red Sea” by Caspar Luyken, before 1708.

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