Victory at Sea: Prose and Poetry in Exodus 14-15
dancing (e.g., Judg. 5:1-31; 11:34; 1 Sam. 18:6-7; 2 Sam. 6:5, 14-16, 20-22). Therefore some have suggested that the shorter song of Miriam is older than the longer song of Moses.30 Others attempt to relate her song to the longer poem by suggesting that Miriam's song provided "the antiphonal response and rhythmic ac- companiment" to Moses' song.31 Thus Kaiser remarks, "Miriam led the women perhaps in an antiphonal response, repeating the song at the conclusion of each part or strophe, accompanied by timbrels and dancing." 32
Perhaps the simplest solution is to view Miriam's song as be- ing sung immediately after the Israelites' safe passage through the sea and the defeat of the Egyptians, while Moses soon afterward composed the poetic masterpiece of Exodus 15:1-18 and led the people in its singing.33 Understood in this way, verses 19-21 com- plete the narrative on the miraculous crossing of the Re(e)d Sea (i.e., 13:17-14:31; 15:19-21), which is then followed by the narra- tive of the journey into the wilderness that eventually brought Is-
rael to Mount Sinai (15:22-19:2). The initial particle y iK of 15:19
may then be understood as introducing a pluperfect temporal clause that stiches verse 19 to the events narrated in 14:30-31. This is followed by additional information that relates the further activities of Miriam and the women (15:20-21).
Understood in this way, the narrative beginning in 14:30-31 is continued in 15:19-21, with the whole unit of 14:30-31 and 15:19-21 forming the second half of the full unit begun at 14:26.
30 See, for example, Martin Noth, Exodus, Old Testament Library (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1962), 123; and Coats, "The Song of the Sea," 3-4. J. G. Janzen pro- poses that the poem of verses 1-18 is really Miriam's song, to which Moses and the a people responded antiphonally ("Song of Moses, Song of Miriam: Who Is Seconding Whom?" Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54 [1992): 211-20). See also, but with differing emphasis, S. E. Gillingham, The Poems and Psalms of the Hebrew Bible (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994), 145.
31 Watts, "Song and the Ancient Reader," 142. See also Cassuto, Exodus, 182; and William H. C. Propp, Exodus 1-18, Anchor Bible (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 548.
32 Walter C. Kaiser Jr., "Exodus," in The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 2 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990), 396.
33 Bernhard W. Anderson concludes that "the Song of Miriam ... is an independ- ent song which was an immediate poetic response to the event of Yahweh's libera- tion that it celebrates" ("The Song of Miriam Poetically and Theologically Consid- ered," in Directions in Biblical Hebrew Poetry, 290-91). Anderson's views on the importance of Miriam's song are largely shared by Walter Brueggemann ("A Re- sponse sponse to ‘The Song of Miriam,’ by Bernhard Anderson," in Directions in Biblical Poetry, 297-302).