BIBLIOTHECA SACRA / January-March 2004
featuring Miriam s song of praise (vv. 19-21) and (b) the grumbling of a people who should have been aware of God's continued under- taking for them.
The question remains as to the relative historicity of the re- spective accounts and the historical conclusions that can be drawn from them. First, the similar features of the two accounts of the crossing of the sea reveal an essential core of facts. (a) The fleeing Israelites were bottled up between the sea and their Egyptian pur- suers. (b) Miraculously the sea parted in such a fashion as to allow the Israelites time to cross safely through the waters to the other side. (c) When the Egyptians attempted to follow the Israelites on the same path through the sea, the waters returned, drowning them. (d) Following the safe passage and the demise of the Egyp- tians, the Israelites celebrated and gave praise to Yahweh.
Second, the fact that one account of the crossing is written in prose narrative and the other in poetry does not militate against the historicity of these essential facts.44 (a) The prose account is part of a larger account written in quasi-journalistic style narrat- ing Israel's travels after the exodus from Egypt. (b) The poetic ac- count enlarges on Miriam's song and then includes Moses' own vic- tory song, in which the Israelites joined him in praising the Lord. (c) Thus the combined effect yields a fuller picture of events sur- rounding the adventure at the sea. 45
44 Abraham Malamat remarks, "We could all do well to give heed to Wellhausen's dictum, astounding for him: ‘If it [the Israelite tradition] is at all feasible, it would be utter folly (Torheit) to give preference to any other feasibility' " ("The Proto- History of Israel: A Study in Method," in The Word of the Lord Shall Go Forth, ed. Carol L. Meyers and M. O'Connor [Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 19831, 310).
45 The conclusions reached here are in harmony with a growing body of evidence supporting the historicity of the Exodus event, from the departure from Egypt to the Conquest. Thus Hoffmeier concludes his comprehensive study by observing, "The body of evidence reviewed in this book provides indirect evidence which shows that the main points of the Israel in Egypt and exodus narratives are indeed plausible" (Israel in Egypt, 226). See also Kaiser, The Old Testament Documents, 109-18. It should be noted that the precise order of creation of the respective literary accounts concerning the crossing of the sea is uncertain. It may be a case of a historiographic prose tradition drawn from a previous poem, as Yair Zakovitch suggests for the relation between Judges 4 and 5 ("Poetry Creates Historiography," in A Wise and Discerning Mind, ed. Samuel M. Olyan and Robert C. Culley [Providence, RI: Brown Judaic Studies, 20001, 313). If so, a literary scenario might be something like the following. (1) Moses may have kept journalistic notes of events that transpired along the way. (2) Such data included a record of Miriam's song after the crossing of the sea. (3) Moses composed his song based on the theme of Miriam's song. (4) In the final account Moses' song is inserted between the prose narrative concerning the crossing of the sea and the record of the celebration led by Miriam and the women.
This material is cited with gracious permission from: Dallas Theological Seminary 3909 Swiss Ave. Dallas, TX 75204 www.dts.edu Please report any errors to Ted Hildebrandt at: firstname.lastname@example.org