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Exodus 15:11-21

11. Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

11. Quis sicut tu in diis, Jehova? quis sicut tu, magnificus in sanctitate, terribilis laudibus, faciens mirabilia?

12. Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

12. Extendisti dexteram tuam, deglutivit eos terra.

13. Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.

13. Duces in tua misericordia populum hunc quem redemisti, duces in fortitudine tua ad habitaculum sanctitatis tuae.

14. The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.

14. Audient populi et contremiscent: dolor apprehendet habitatores Philisthim.

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.

15. Tunc terrebuntur duces Edom, et robusti Moab: apprehendet eos tremor, dissolventur omnes habitatores Chanann.

16. 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.

16. Cadet super eos tremor et pavor: in magnitudine brachii tui conticescent quasi lapis, donec pertransierit populus tuus, Jehovae: donec pertransierit populus iste quem acquisiisti.

17. 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.

17. Introduces eos et plantabis eos in monte haereditatis tuae, in loco quem praeparasti, Jehova, ut sedeas. Sanctuarium, Domine, stabilierunt manus tuae.

18. The Lord shall reign for ever and ever.

18. Jehova regnabit in saeculum et in perpetuum.

19. 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.

19. Quoniam ingressus est equus Pharaonis cum curribus ejus et equitibus ejus in mare, et reduxit Jehova super eos aquas maris: filii autem Israel ambulaverunt in sicco per medium maris.

20. 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.

20. Sumpsit etiam Maria prophetissa soror Aharon tympanum in manu sua: et egressae sunt omnes mulieres post eam cum tympanis et choris.

21. 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.

21. Et respondebat illis Maria, Cantate Jehovae, quoniam se magnifice extulit, equum et ascensorem ejus projecit in mare.

11. Who is like unto thee? Moses concludes this song of praise with an ejaculation, because the grandeur of the subject transcends the power of words. The interrogation expresses more than as if he had simply asserted that none can be compared with God; because it marks both admiration and assured confidence in the truth of what he says; for he exclaims, as if overwhelmed with astonishment, “Who is like unto thee, O Lord?” The notion of some that by the word “gods” he means the angels, is more suitable to other passages; for instance, (Psalm 89:6,) “Who in heaven can be compared unto the Lord; who among the sons162162     Filios Dei. — V. of the mighty can be likened unto the Lord?” for it immediately follows, “God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are round about him.” (Ver. 7, etc.) The meaning then is,163163     “Or le Sainct Esprit veut dire;” now the Holy Spirit means to say. — Fr. that, although there be excellence in the angels, still God is exalted far above them all; but here it may be more properly referred to idols, for Moses (as has been said) is professedly contrasting’ the one true God, whose religion and worship existed among the children of Abraham, with the delusions of the Gentiles. The word “sanctitas,” holiness, expresses that glory which separates God from all His creatures; and therefore, in a manner, it degrades all the other deities which the world has invented for itself; since the majesty of the one only God is thus eminent and honorable. He adds, “fearful in praises;” because He cannot be duly praised, without ravishing us with astonishment. Moses afterwards explains himself, by saying that God’s works are wonderful. In my opinion, their explanation is a poor one, who think that He is said to be “fearful in praises,” because He is to be praised with fear; and theirs is farfetched, who say that he is terrible, even when he is praised.

13. Thou in thy mercy hast led them forth.164164     Wilt lead them forth. — Lat. The verb in Hebrew is indeed in the past tense; but, since it is plain from the context that their hope for what was to come was founded on God’s former mercies, I have preferred making the meaning clearer by translating it in the future.165165     “Selon l’usage commun de la langue;” according to the common usage of the language. — Fr. Moses, therefore, exhorts the people to proceed to their promised land boldly and joyfully; because God will not forsake His work in the midst of it. And on this account he expressly mentions their redemption; as though he had said, that the people were not in vain delivered from impending death, but that God, as He had begun, would be their constant guide. David uses the same argument, (Psalm 31:5,)

“Into thine hand I commit my spirit; thou hast redeemed me,
O Lord God of truth.”

For, as the beginning of their redemption has proceeded from God’s mere mercy, so he says that for this same reason He will lead them even to their promised inheritance. But, since the many obstacles might impress them with alarm, he at the same time sets before them the “strength” of God; for the whole praise is given to God, who had both been freely gracious to His people, and, asking assistance from no other source, but contented with His own power, had supplied what would have been otherwise incredible.

14. The people shall hear. Again in this place I have not scrupled to change the tenses; for it is plain that Moses is speaking of things future; although I do not deny, that by verbs of the past tense he confirms the certainty of the matter; which is a common figure with the Prophets. This boast depends on the mention of God’s “strength;” for it was impossible for the Israelites to make their way through so many adverse nations into the land of Canaan, unless God had, as it were, put forth His hand from heaven and fought for them. Lest, then, their numerous difficulties should dishearten them, Moses declares that, although many powerful enemies should endeavor to oppose them, terror shall possess them all from heaven, so that, in their confusion and astonishment, they shall have no power of resistance.

16. Fear and dread shall fall upon them. Some read this in the optative mood, but with little probability, as it seems to me; for Moses is not so much expressing wishes or prayers, as animating the Israelites to have a good hope, and to be firmly convinced that God would not make an end until He had finished the course of His grace. And this we may fairly apply to ourselves at this time, viz., that God will continue His calling in the elect, until they are brought on to the goal. For the heavenly inheritance, (to which we are called,) answers to “the mountain” of His holiness.166166     Sion. — Fr. The same reason, which was just before advanced, is again repeated, viz., that God would not fail His people until the end, because He had “purchased” them to Himself. For the translation “which thou hast possessed” is not so suitable; because although Moses signifies that they are God’s peculiar people, yet is their deliverance undoubtedly alleged as the cause of their full redemption; as if he had said, that the people whom God had once undertaken to protect would always be dear to Him.

17. Thou shalt bring them in. The metaphor of planting denotes a firm habitation; as also in Psalm 44:2, “Thou didst drive out the heathen with thine hand, and plantedst” our fathers, and causedst them to take root. Moreover, by his commendatory allusion to the temple, Moses excites in the people’s hearts a desire for the land, which was to be God’s “Sanctuary;” and by this secret thought attracts them, indifferent as they were, to seek the enjoyment of this great blessing. He also prophesies of Mount Sion many ages before the temple was erected there; from whence we gather that it was not chosen by man’s will, but consecrated by the eternal counsel and predestination of God. For it behooved that the gratuitous favor of God should manifest itself as to this place, as well as to men’s persons. Thus, in Psalm 78:67, it is said,

“He refused the tabernacle of Joseph, and chose not the tribe of Ephraim; but chose the tribe of Judah,” etc.

Elsewhere also, (Psalm 132:13, 14,)

“For the Lord hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation: this is my rest for ever; here will I dwell, for I have desired it.”

But the stability of the temple is also foretold; as in another passage,167167     It will be seen that the sense, and not the words, of the citation are given. “Thy hand hath founded Zion.” (Psalm 87:1.) And God himself declares by Isaiah that He will not suffer Jerusalem to be laid waste, (Isaiah 37:26,) because of ancient times He had formed it. But although the whole land of Canaan is elsewhere called God’s rest, and the people was never collected into one city, yet, because God blessed the whole nation and land out of His sanctuary, therefore is special mention made of His holy mountain. But this prophecy was very needful for the support of their minds, because Jerusalem only came into their power at a late period; and doubtless their posterity would have been still more slow to take possession of it had not their hearts been stimulated by this promise. A short sentence follows concerning God’s eternal reign, on which the perpetuity of the Church is founded. Thus David, (Psalm 102:27,) after having said that God would always be the, same, and His years would have no end, thus concludes, “The children of thy servants shall continue, and their sseed shall be established before thee.” (Ver. 28.) Moses, then, would extend the hope of the people to all ages, because of God’s kingdom there is no end.

19. For the horse of Pharaoh went in. This verse does not; seem to be suited to the song, and therefore I am rather of opinion that Moses returns here to the history, and assigns the reason why the Israelites so magnificently celebrated the praises of God. For the sake of avoiding ambiguity, it would perhaps be better thus to render it, — “For the horse of Pharaoh had gone in, and the Lord had brought again the waters of the sea upon them, but; the children of Israel had gone on dry land.”168168     There is the following addition in the Fr.: — ‘Voyla pourquoy j’ai mis les verbes en temps plus que parfait;” you see why I have put the words in the pluperfect tense.

20. And Miriam the prophetess. Moses here introduces in his song the ἀντιστροφὴ, such as were constantly used by the lyric poets. For God would have not only men to be the proclaimers of this great miracle, but associated the women with them. When, therefore, the men had finished their song, the women followed in order. Although it is not certain whether the first verse was intercalary, (as the sacred history testifies the following sentence to have been in a solemn hymn: — “For his mercy endureth for ever,” 1 Chronicles 16:34, which is also intercalated in Psalm 136), or whether the women repeated alternately what the men had sung. It little matters which opinion you prefer, except that the former is more probable. But although Moses honors his sister by the title of “prophetess,” he does not say that she assumed to herself the office of public teaching, but only that she was the leader and directress of the others in praising God. The beating of timbrels may indeed appear absurd to some, but the custom of the nation excuses it, which David witnesses to have existed also in his time, where he enumerates, together with the singers, “the damsels playing with timbrels,” (Psalm 68:25,) evidently in accordance with common and received custom. Yet must it be observed, at the same time, that musical instruments were among the legal ceremonies which Christ at His coming abolished; and therefore we, under the Gospel, must maintain a greater simplicity.169169     C.’s opinion on this subject will be found at greater length in his Commetary on the Psalms, (Calvin Society’s Translation,) vol. 1:539; 3:98, 312, 495; 4:72, 73; 5:312, 320. Perhaps the following note on Psalm 81:2, may most conveniently embody his sentiments: — “With respect to the tabret, harp, and psaltery, we have formerly observed, and shall find it necessary afterwards to repeat the same remark, that the Levites, under the law, were justified in making use of instrumental music in the worship of God; it having been His will to train His people, while they were as yet tender and like children, by such rudiments, until the coming of Christ. But now, when the clear light of the Gospel has dissipated the shadows of the law, and taught us that God is to be served in a simpler form, it would be to act a foolish and mistaken part to imitate that which the Prophet enjoined only upon those of his own time. From this it is apparent that the Papists have shown themselves to be very apes in transferring it to themselves.” — Vol 3, p. 312. Elsewhere he says, “Paul allows us to bless God in the public assembly of the saints only in a known tongue. (1 Corinthians 14:16.) The voice of man, although not understood by the generality, assuredly excels all inanimate instruments of music; and yet we see what St. Paul determines concerning speaking in an unknown tongue.” — Commentary on Psalm 33:2, vol. 1:539.


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