Matthew Poole's Commentary
Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.Moses and the people praise the Lord, Exodus 15:1-21. They want water, Exodus 15:22. The waters of Marah are bitter, Exodus 15:23. The people murmur against Moses, Exodus 15:24. He crieth unto the Lord; the waters are sweetened, Exodus 15:25. They come to Elim, where they find twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees, Exodus 15:27.
Moses composed the song, and he, together with the Israelites, sung it, unto the honour and praise of God.
The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.My strength and song; the matter or subject of the present song of praise.
An habitation; a place for his service and worship, where he will dwell by his special presence.
The LORD is a man of war: the LORD is his name.A man of war; an eminent warrior; as the phrase is used 1 Samuel 17:33. Thus an eloquent man is called a man of words, Exodus 4:10, and a mighty man, a man of arm, Job 22:8.
Pharaoh's chariots and his host hath he cast into the sea: his chosen captains also are drowned in the Red sea.With great force, like an arrow out of a bow; as the Hebrew word signifies.
The depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom as a stone.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.No text from Poole on this verse.
And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee: thou sentest forth thy wrath, which consumed them as stubble.In the greatness of thine excellency; by thy great and glorious power.
As stubble; as easily, and as speedily, and as irrecoverably.
And with the blast of thy nostrils the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright as an heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.Of thy nostrils; or, of thine anger, to wit. that vehement east wind, Exodus 15:10 14:21, which was raised by thine anger in order to the ruin of thine enemies.
The floods, Heb. the streams, or the flowing waters, whose nature it is to be constantly in motion.
Were congealed, i.e. hardened, stood still, as if they had been frozen, and so they were a wall on both hands, Exodus 14:22.
In the heart of the sea, i.e. the midst; as that word is used, Psalm 18:16 46:2 Ezekiel 28:2.
The enemy said, I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil; my lust shall be satisfied upon them; I will draw my sword, my hand shall destroy them.My lust; the lust of covetousness and revenge too. Shall destroy them; or, take possession of them and theirs: see of this word, Numbers 14:12,24.
Thou didst blow with thy wind, the sea covered them: they sank as lead in the mighty waters.Heb. Magnificent or honourable waters, made so by being the instrument of thy glorious work.
Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?Amongst the gods, so called and esteemed; or prince or potentates, as Psalm 29:1 Ezekiel 32:21.
Glorious in holiness, or, righteousness: thy power is great and glorious; but thou dost not abuse it to unrighteous and unworthy purposes, but to holy and honourable designs; to the punishment of wicked tyrants, and to the vindication of thy oppressed and holy people.
Fearful in praises; in praise-worthy actions; the act being put for the object, as fear is put for a thing to be feared, as Psalm 14:5 1 Peter 3:14. Or, to be feared or had in reverence when thou art praised; to be both loved and feared at the same time.
Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.Either,
1. The globe, consisting of earth and water, which is here called earth; as it is called the deep, and the water s, Genesis 1:2. Or,
2. The earth is here put for the sea, the other part of the same globe; as the soul is put for the body, or the dead carcass, the other part of the man, Leviticus 19:28 21:1 Numbers 6:6,9,11. Or,
3. The earth properly, either because many of them sunk into the mud at the bottom of the sea, and were buried in it; or because, after they were cast up upon the shore, they were buried by the Israelites in the earth.
Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.i.e. Canaan, the place where not only they shall dwell, but thou in and with them. See Psalm 78:52, &c.
The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.No text from Poole on this verse.
Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away.No text from Poole on this verse.
Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.Be as still, or, be as silent; they shall be so struck. with amazement, that they shall be impotent both for speech and motion.
Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O Lord, which thy hands have established.In the mountain of thine inheritance; either,
1. In the country of Canaan, which is a mountainous country, full of hills and valleys, Deu 11:11; not like Egypt, a plain and low country. Or,
2. In and about the mount of Moriah, where the temple was to be built, which is here put for the whole land, it being the most eminent part of it, round about which the people were planted, and to which they were frequently to resort.
Have established; will certainly build and establish, i.e. cause to be built and established. The past tense for the future, to note the certainty of it, according to the style of the prophets.
The LORD shall reign for ever and ever.No text from Poole on this verse.
For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought again the waters of the sea upon them; but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.Miriam the prophetess; so called, either in a general sense, because she was an instructer of other women in the praise and service of God; or in a more special sense, because she had the Spirit of prophecy. See Numbers 12:2 Micah 6:4.
The sister of Aaron
Quest. Why not of Moses also?
Answ. 1. She might be Moses’s sister only by one parent, Aaron’s by both.
2. She was best known to the people by her relation to Aaron, with whom she had lived for many years, when Moses was banished.
With timbrels and with dances, according to their ancient custom in public solemnities. See Judges 11:34 21:21 1 Samuel 18:6 2 Samuel 6:14,21 Jer 31:4,13.
And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.Miriam addressed either,
1. The women, last spoken of, and then it is an enallage of the gender. Or,
2. The men spoken of before. They sung by turns, or by parts, either the same words being repeated, or some other words of a like nature added. See 1 Chronicles 16:41 2 Chronicles 5:13 Ezra 3:11.
So Moses brought Israel from the Red sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur; and they went three days in the wilderness, and found no water.Shur; so usually called, Genesis 16:7; and by the Israelites, Etham, as may be gathered by comparing this place with Numbers 33:8, for both there and here it is said they went three days in this wilderness.
And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?No text from Poole on this verse.
And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them,The waters were made sweet, not so much by any virtue in that tree, as by the power of God, who used this rather as a sign to the Israelites, than as an instrument to himself in this work.
There he made for them a statute: God, or Moses in God’s name, and by his order, constituted and published to them a statute. Which seems to be understood not of any, particular statute or law, as that concerning the sabbath, or their duty to their parents, or the like; for the specifying of their duties is reserved to another time and place; but of a general law or rule formerly given, and now solemnly renewed by Moses at God’s command, like that given to Abraham their father, Genesis 17:1, Walk before me, and be perfect. God having thus far performed his part of that covenant made with Abraham and his seed, to bring them out of Egypt towards Canaan, tells them that he expects and requires of them their observance of the condition of that covenant, and gives them this indefinite and universal law or precept, that they should obey and fulfil all the commands which God had already laid upon them or their parents, and which he should hereafter reveal to them. This sense may be gathered out of the following verse, wherein he explains what he meant by this
statute, even all God’s statutes or commandments, which if they would keep, he engageth himself to preserve and deliver them. So it is only a change of the number, the singular, statute, being put for the plural, statutes, which is a figure very frequently used both in Scripture and in other authors. God having now eased them of the hard and iron yoke of the Egyptians, puts his sweet and easy yoke upon them; and having undertaken to be their King, and Protector, and Captain, he claims their subjection to himself, and to his laws or statutes.
He proved them, or, tried them, i.e. the Israelites. There he tried both their faith by the difficulty now mentioned, viz. their want of water, and their future obedience by this general command, which he is about to branch forth into divers particulars.
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.None of these diseases upon thee, nor other evils or plagues; but, on the contrary, I will bless thee with all manner of blessings. Under one branch or part of the blessings of God’s covenant, he includes all the rest by a very common synecdoche.
That healeth thee; or, thy physician, for all thy maladies both of soul and body.
And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters.Palm trees were both pleasant for their shade, and refreshing for their sweet fruit. Thus the Israelites are obliged and encouraged to the obedience commanded, by being put into better circumstances than they were under in their last station.