Most of this chapter is composed of two hymns sung by the Israelites. Called the Song of the Sea (Shirat haYam), I’m not sure whether it’s used much in Jewish services or not. I vaguely remember a hymn based more on Miriam’s shorter version that we either sang back in Sunday School or that I heard sung by a choir when I was Sunday School aged.

Just like the last time the Bible waxed poetic, I had a hard time reading this in Japanese, but deciphering it made me notice that there are all sorts of little difference and nuanced variations between the two translations. An obvious one is that the NCT follows the option of “song” rather than “might” that the NRSV leaves in footnote (v 2). In the verse before, the NRSV says “he has triumphed gloriously” while the NCT says “he has revealed his great power/influence.” On the other hand, the NRSV keeps the poetic “with the blast of your nostrils” (what an image!) while the NCT has the more prosaic “with an angry wind.”

It’s a lovely song of liberation. I mean, yes, it sounds a bit like gloating over people dying, but these were people coming to force them back into slavery. If I don’t have a problem with us singing Battle Hymn of the Republic in church (and I don’t), then I certainly can’t condemn them for being happy.

I’m not the first to notice that Mariam and the women have to do their own separate song and dance, but it’s neat to see the first woman get declared a prophet.

After the song and dance (literally) is the first of the many miracles that God offers in the wilderness to the Israelites, making water fresh. I’m sure it’s also quite symbolic that Elim has twelve springs of water (for the twelve tribes) and 70 date trees (the 70…elders, I think it is; we haven’t met them yet).

The phrase I particularly like in this is “the LORD who heals you,” iyasu shu in Japanese, YHWH Rapha in Hebrew. (v 26) I don’t know why that idea really is appealing to me. Maybe it’s been all the colds I’ve had since coming to Japan. I’ll have to meditate on it a little more before I can figure out that piece.

The Japanese: sanbi suru “to praise, to glorify, to worship,” ikou “power, authority, influence” (v 1), tataeru “to praise, to acclaim,” agameru “to worship, to honor” (v 2), sekitomeru “to dam up, to hold back,” katamaru “to harden, to solidify” (v 8), bundoru “to plunder, to capture” (v 9), namari “lead” (v 10), homubeki “blessed,” osore “awe,” kusushiki “???” (v 11), sumai “dwelling, residence,” tomonau “to accompany” (v 13), shokoku “countries” (v 14 – this is notably always plural), wananaku “to tremble” (v 15), uerareru “to be planted” (v 17), ondo wo toru “to lead a group (in song)” (v 21), kokoromiru “to try, to test” (v 25), natsumeyashi “date tree” (v 27).

I have absolutely no idea what kusushiki means, and even homubeki is a bit of a guess. I dug around, but I haven’t come up with any definitive dictionary answers.