The Second Book of Moses, Called Exodus

Chapter 15

The song of Moses, Miriam, and Israel on their deliverance, 1-21. The people want water in the wilderness, 22. The waters at Marah are bitter, they murmur, Moses prays, and sweetens the waters by God's direction, 23-26. They encamp at Elim, where are twelve wells and seventy palm trees, 27.

1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying, "I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation, my father's God, and I will exalt him.

3 The LORD is a man of war. Yahweh is his name.

4 "Pharaoh's chariots and his host he has cast into the sea. His chosen captains are also drowned in the Red Sea.

5 The depths have covered them. They sunk to the bottom as a stone.

6 Your right hand, O LORD, has become glorious in power. Your right hand, O LORD, has dashed in pieces the enemy.

7 And in the greatness of your excellence you have overthrown those who rose up against you. You sent forth your wrath, which consumed them as stubble.

8 And with the blast of your nostrils the waters were collected, the floods stood upright as a heap, and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.

9 The enemy said, 'I will pursue and 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.'

10 You blew with your wind, the sea covered them. They sunk as lead in the mighty waters.

11 "Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

12 You stretched out your right hand, the earth swallowed them.

13 "You in your mercy have led forth the people which you have redeemed. You have guided them in your strength to your holy habitation.

14 The people shall hear and be afraid. Sorrow shall take hold upon the inhabitants of Palestina.

15 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.

16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them. By the greatness of your arm they shall be as still as a stone until your people pass over, O LORD, until the people pass over, which you have purchased.

17 You shall bring them in and plant them in the mountain of your inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which you have made for you to dwell in, in the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.

18 The LORD shall reign forever and ever."

19 For the horse of Pharaoh went in with his chariots and with his horsemen into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea.

20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances. 21 And Miriam answered them, "Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea."

22 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. 23 And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah because they were bitter. Therefore, its name was called Marah. 24 And the people murmured against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?" 25 And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree, which he cast into the waters, and the waters were made sweet. There he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, 26 And said, "If you will diligently listen to the voice of the LORD your God, do that which is right in his sight, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon you which I have brought upon the Egyptians, for I am the LORD who heals you."

27 And they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm-trees. And they encamped there by the waters.


Matthew Henry Commentary - Exodus, Chapter 15


[v.2a] - Christ is our strength, as noted by Paul in Philippians 4:13, when he said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Furthermore, Christ is our salvation. In Acts 4:12, Peter proclaimed, "There is not salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved." The name to which he is referring, given two verses previous to that, is Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Paul furthers this point in 2nd Timothy 2:10 by saying, "Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, so that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory."

[v.2b] - Reference, Psalm 118:14; Isaiah 12:2; Zechariah 13:9.

[v.3] - Reference, Psalm 24:8.

[v.11] - Reference, Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8.

[v.13] - Reference, Psalm 77:14-15, 20, 78:52-54; Isaiah 63:12-13; Jeremiah 2:6; Ephesians 2:4; 1st Peter 1:3-5.

[v.18] - Reference, Psalm 97:1; Revelation 11:15.

[v.19] - Reference, Exodus 14:28-29.

[v.22-24] - No doubt God made these waters bitter to test the Israelites, so that He would turn them to Him. If they could not get water soon, they would certainly die of thirst, which of course is their complaint. Moses, as the acting mediator, cried to God for deliverance. Christ is our Mediator (1st Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 9:15), and, as Moses turned to God on Israel's behalf, Christ turned to God on His elect's behalf to save them from the bitterness of sin.

[v.25] - The cure for the water came from a particular tree God had shown to Moses. This tree can be seen as a symbol of the cross, upon which Christ was crucified to take away the bitterness of the sins of His people.

[v.26] - God's commands for obedience are followed by a promise of blessing. Obedience to God's Word instills faith in the hearer, for "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). Furthermore, Christians are called to "be doers of the word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22). Faith will produce the fruit of good works, or doing "that which is right in his sight," for "faith without works is dead" (James 2:17, 20).

[v.27] - God leads the Israelites to the wells of Elim where He provides them with a place of rest and refreshment. Each tribe is given a separate well of water so that no one would be lacking any water. Here we have a picture of dwelling with the Savior. Obedience to the call of God, even in the midst of trials and temptations, will eventually lead to a time of eternal rest and refreshment. His call to His people is this: "Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters" (Isaiah 55:1)—these waters being the living waters Christ spoke of to the woman at the well in John, chapter 4. Concerning these waters, He said, "whoever drinks of the water that I give him, shall never thirst. The water that I give him, shall be a well of water in him springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). The Revelation of John gives a similar picture to what is written here in Exodus. In Revelation, chapter 7, John saw a great multitude standing before the throne and the Lamb. After beholding this sight, one of the elders present explained to John what he was seeing. The elder explained to John that these people standing here shall not "thirst any more, neither shall the sun fall upon them, nor any heat. For the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will feed them, and will lead them to living fountains of waters..." (Revelation 7:16-17).