What is this, Holy Bible: The Musical? People don’t just start harmonizing lyrics made up on the spot. And unless the Israelites were really warped, their response to watching hundreds of men drown should not be orchestrating a jaunty tune! Obviously, such a bizarre spectacle wouldn’t happen in reality, and this is partially why scholars believe that the entire song came from a different text and was incorporated into the Torah later.
But let’s pretend they did, and take a look at the beautiful lyrics they gave what has traditionally been labeled the Song of the Sea (found in Exodus 15:1-18).
I will sing unto the LORD,
for he hath triumphed gloriously:
The horse and his rider
hath he thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and song,
and he is become my salvation:
He is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation;
my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The LORD is a man of war:
the LORD is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his host
hath he cast into the sea:
His chosen captains also
are drowned in the Red sea.
The depths have covered them:
they sank into the bottom as a stone.
Thy right hand, O LORD,
is become glorious in power:
Thy right hand, O LORD,
hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
And in the greatness of thine excellency
thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee:
Thou sentest forth thy wrath,
which consumed them as stubble.
And with the blast of thy nostrils
the waters were gathered together,
The floods stood upright as an heap,
and the depths were congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said,
I will pursue, 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.
Thou didst blow with thy wind,
the sea covered them:
They sank as lead
in the mighty waters.
Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods?
who is like thee,
glorious in holiness,
fearful in praises,
Thou stretchedst out thy right hand,
the earth swallowed them.
Thou in thy mercy hast led forth
the people which thou hast redeemed:
Thou hast guided them in thy strength
unto thy holy habitation.
The people shall hear, and be afraid:
sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.
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.
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.
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.
The LORD shall reign
for ever and ever.
Truly the height of savagery—this song is wisely left out of the movie. Most of the lyrics are about God obliterating anyone who stands in the way of the Israelites getting what they want. I can bet they would have been fond of the words of Genghis Khan (later paraphrased for the movie “Conan the Barbarian”), “The greatest joy for a man is to defeat his enemies, to drive them before him, to take from them all they possess, to see those they love in tears, to ride their horses, and to hold their wives and daughters in his arms.”
There’s also another tell-tale sign of henotheism among the early Jews. “Who is like unto thee, O Lord among the gods?” is not the kind of question that would be asked by monotheists.