Read Exodus Chapter 15. After you have read the chapter, read the passages below to help you dive deeper into the Chapter. Conclude in Prayer.
Moses and the People Sang
WHO MAY SING THE PERFECT SONG - As the perfect Bride of the perfect husband, then, she has received the words of perfect doctrine. Moses and the children of Israel sang the first song to God when they saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore and when they saw the strong hand and the mighty strong arm of the Lord and [when they] believed in God and Moses his servant. Then they sang, therefore, saying, 'Let us sing to the Lord, for he is gloriously magnified.' And I think that nobody can attain to that perfect and mystical song and to the perfection of the Bride which this Scripture contains unless he first marches through the midst of the sea upon dry land and, with the water becoming to him as a wall on the right hand and on the left, so makes his escape from the hands of the Egyptians. [Then] he beholds them dead on the seashore and, seeing the strong hand with which the Lord has acted against the Egyptians, believes in the Lord and in his servant Moses. In Moses, I say in the law, and in the Gospels and in all the divine Scriptures. For them he will have good cause to sing and say, Let us sing unto the Lord, for he is gloriously magnified” - ORIGEN
The song of triumph - "This song symbolizes those redeemed in heaven, whom the Lord Christ saved, and crossed over with them to heaven (Revelation 15: 3). That is why the Church put it in the daily praise as the first ‘Hoos’ (Canticle) to confirm to her children the importance of praising the Lord, and of persistently offering Him thanks, acknowledging His redemptive work with us, and granting us a daily triumph over the devil and his hosts, not by our human actions, but through His work of grace in us. It is noteworthy that Moses and the people, did not utter that song, except after having been baptized, and seen the amazing salvation of God. Thus, by Baptism, being buried together with our crucified Christ, and being raised with Him in the newness of life, we shall have our inner tongue opened to praise and thank God.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider, He has thrown into the sea!” (Ex. 15: 1)
"The song began by praising God who was glorified by the cross, where He trampled on the devil and all his hosts, to set those he captivated free.
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them; They sank to the bottom like a stone.” Exodus 15:4-5 NKJV
SIN CAST INTO THE SEA - "As far as we are concerned, you see, they are dead, because they cannot lord it over us anymore; because our very misdeeds, which made us into their subjects, have been, so to say, sunk and obliterated in the sea, when we were set free by the bath of holy grace." - AUGUSTINE
“St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa, believes that whoever walks in the life of virtue will be of lightweight, while the wicked man will be heavy and sink in water. Virtue is light, and floats on water, and those who walk in its way, fly like a cloud or a bird, by their little wings (Isaiah 9), while sin is heavy like lead (Zechariah 5: 7). He quoted this view from his teacher, the scholar Origen, who said: [Why did they sink? It was because they were not made of the stones from which the children to Abraham are raised. They were lovers of lowly places, who sought lusts and escaped from actuality.] That is why, it was said of them, “They sank like lead in mighty waters” (Ex. 15: 10). Sinners are heavy with evil, to which the prophet Zechariah referred, saying: “Here is a lead disc lifted up, and a woman (is there) sitting inside the basket” (Zechariah 5: 7). When he inquired about her identity, the answer was: “This is wickedness” (Zechariah 5: 8). While the wicked sink like lead in mighty waters, the saints do not sink, but walk over the waters, not having the weight of sin that let them sink. - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
“The enemy said, ‘I will pursue; I will overtake; I will divide the spoil; My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them” (Ex. 15: 9) This verse reveals the work of the devil, how he terrorizes and persecutes. That is why, when Pope Athanasius wanted to defend his escape before his persecutors, the followers of Arius, he said, [The Lord commanded us to escape, and the saints escaped. Persecution is evil, the work of the devil, against the righteous]. Speaking about St. Anthony, St. Athanasius, the apostolic says, [The devil deceives the righteous with his boasts. But, even in this, we should not fear, nor care for his words, because he is a liar, and does not utter one single word of truth. He boldly speaks too much. Yet, as Leviathan, the Savior can draw him out with a hook (Job 41: 1). The enemy tried to use the same tactic with the Lord Christ, assuming that he is capable of uprooting His name from among the living; yet, his threats did not shake the heart of the Lord, but destroyed the enemy himself.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
““Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders?” Exodus 15:11 NKJV
“Nobody is like God in His capability, His love, and His nature, being Incomprehensible, Imperceptible, Unchangeable, with no beginning or end. He, who has no one equal to Him, granted us, by adoption, to be counted as His children, according to His image. And as the apostle St. John says, “Beloved, now we are the children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3: 2).” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
GOD IS INCOMPARABLE - "The Old Testament says, Who is like to you among the gods, O Lord? What do you mean, Moses? Is there any comparison at all between the true God and false gods? Moses would reply, I did not say this to make a comparison; but since I was talking to the Jews, who had a lofty opinion of demons, I condescended to their weakness and brought in the lesson I was teaching in this way. Let me also say that since my discussion is with the Jews, who consider that Christ is mere man and one who violated their law, I compared him with those whom the pagan Greeks admire.” - CHRYSOSTOM
“You will bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance” (Ex. 15: 17).”
“He does not plant it in the valleys, but on the high mountains. He leads those coming out of Egypt, from the world to faith. He wants to set us on the high grounds, and does not want to see us crawl on earth. He does not want the fruits of His vine to touch the ground, but wants its branches to grow without getting entangled with the branches of any other trees and to attach to the mighty cedars (Psalm 80: 11). The cedars of God, I assume, are the prophets and apostles. If we get attached to them, we, the vine that God brought out of Egypt, would have our branches grow with their branches. If we lean on them, our branches would become planted with bonds of mutual love, and would bring about a plenty of fruits].” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Miriam, the singer - "St. Jerome sees Miriam, the sister of Aaron, as a spiritual leader of women at that time, a living portrait of the work of a woman in the Church, who dedicates her life to praise the Lord, and teaches other women to do that as well. In a message to the widow ‘Furia’, who intended to get married, then changed her mind, He wrote to her, [Miriam taught her fellow women to be musicians, yet for Christ; to play on the harp, yet for the Savior; to work day and night to fill their lamps with oil, and stay watchful for the coming of the Bridegroom]. St. Ambrose sees in her a symbol of the Church, continuously praising the Lord. In his talk about the Virgins, he says: [Were they not a symbol of the virgin Church, who, with an unblemished Spirit, gathers together the religious congregation to sing divine songs? We hear of virgins, who were dedicated to that task in the temple of Jerusalem]. In the same article, he described Miriam’s procession as representing a heavenly procession, in which the heavenly rejoice, seeing the earthly setting forth toward heaven.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
From Mariah to Elim
“The way of the wilderness is that of afflictions, or it is rather of experiencing the divine work in our life, in the midst of sufferings, and of the opening of the heart to the heavenly.
After crossing over and rejoicing, the joy of the people turned into bitterness, and they murmured against Moses, because they found only bitter water to drink (Ex. 15: 24). God commanded Moses to cast a tree into the waters, and the waters were made sweet.
What are these waters, but the commandments of the Law that brought bitterness to the people, because they were unable to keep them? But once the Lord Christ, the Tree of life, entered into the Law, He turned it to spiritual, and made it (drinkable) to the soul.”
“Many fathers see in the tree a symbol of the cross, which works in the water of Baptism, to transform our life from bitterness to sweetness. And instead of carrying the works of the old man, we would enjoy the new nature we acquired in Christ Jesus.”
BAPTISM COMPRISES WATER AND THE WORD - "Marah was a fountain of most bitter water. Moses cast wood into it and it became sweet. For water without the preaching of the cross of the Lord is of no avail for future salvation. But after it has been consecrated by the mystery of the saving cross, it is made suitable for the use of the spiritual laver and of the cup of salvation. As then Moses, that is, the prophet, cast wood into that fountain, so too the priest utters over this font the proclamation of the Lord‘s cross, and the water is made sweet for the purpose of grace.” - AMBROSE
“If Marah carries a reference to the Law, becoming spiritual by the cross, and to Baptism, with what it embraces of the work of the cross and the power of resurrection, the people have to cross over from Marah to Elim (Ex. 15: 27); from the Law to the New Testament in which they found twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees, as a reference to the twelve apostles, and the seventy disciples. Concerning this, the scholar Origen says: [God made it on purpose, not to bring the people to Elim from the beginning, to where there are twelve wells with no bitterness whatsoever, and where there is a place of comfort under the palm trees. When the bitterness of the Law turns sweet by the tree of life (Proverbs 3: 18), we shall then comprehend the Law spiritually, and the crossover from the Old Testament to the New Testament will be completed. By this we shall reach the twelve wells of water and the seventy palm trees. It is not enough for the people of God to drink from the water of Marah, after it became sweet by the tree of life, and after it lost the bitterness of the letter by the sublimity of the cross. As the Old Testament alone is not enough for drinking, we have to come to the New Testament, to drink from it without difficulty." - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Heavenly Father, as King Solomon said in His Song "Your Mouth is Most Sweet, Yes You are altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend." You O God have taken us from the bitterness of being cast out of the Garden of Eden, and returned us to the sweetness of eternity with You, through the cross of Your Son, His death and His Resurrection. We have come to know this sweetness by passing through the waters of Baptism and being sustained by the twelve wells of water, shaded by seventy palm trees, which are the Apostles and the Church. Thank You for letting us taste this sweetness daily. May we always say with David "How Sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!" Amen.