The Song of the Sea (Forerunners)

Underfoot Poetry

The Song of the Sea,” which comprises Exodus 15:1-18 and tells of the Israelites’ escape from Egypt via the Red Sea, is one of the oldest parts of the Bible. Explaining the early form of Hebrew in which it was written, James Kugel notes that the Hebrew prefix ha- (a definite article corresponding to our word “the”) only developed in later Hebrew, so that while in the rest of the Old Testament ha- can be found in abundance, in “The Song of the Sea” “it is not found even once.”

While the song appears later in the Exodus than the prose version of the escape, in chapter 14,  Kugel points to other songs in the Old Testament that were also placed amid later prose renditions of the same events: the Song of Deborah in Judges 5, Hannah’s Hymn in 1 Samuel 2, David’s song in 2 Samuel 22…

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