Suddenly we learn that Aaron and Moses’ sister is named Miriam! Now, you’d think that this would have been useful information back when she was sending Moses down the river, right? Well, that’s okay, now that they’re naming her, surely she’s about to become an important character, right? We’re even told that she’s a prophet! Hey, that’s a big deal, surely the authors are going to expand on that, right? …Well, no. We’re told that she takes a timbrel and leads the ladies in a dance, and that’s it; as a woman, she’s just here to provide entertainment. She’ll have another minor part in a different book, but this is her last appearance in Exodus.
So, what’s the song that Miriam comes up with? Well take a look.
Sing ye to the LORD,
for he hath triumphed gloriously;
The horse and his rider
hath he thrown into the sea.
Wow, how original! It’s the exact same as the beginning of the previous song. Miriam appears to be the inventor of the cover song!
The traditional approach to the authorship of the Torah is that Moses wrote the entire thing himself in a short period of time. Scholars who adhere to the Documentary Hypothesis disagree with that approach, not just because it’s ridiculous at face value, but because of the various styles of writing found in the Torah. Someone who reads a lot of suspense thrillers can easily distinguish the works of John Grisham from Dean Koontz, but the bible is even more obvious. The Torah changes writing styles not only between authors, but between centuries. So, the example of Grisham and Koontz, would be better illustrated by comparing John Grisham to Edgar Allen Poe. Even an amateur could tell they’re different authors based on the word use.
Such differences in prose and syntax appear all throughout the Torah. In particular there appear to be four main sources. The two oldest are the Jahwist and Elohist sources. This is why we see so many repeated stories in the Torah. Both the Jahwist and Elohist sources had similar stories, written differently, and then combined at a later date.
Furthermore, we can tell the age of a passage based not just on the syntax, but also the content. For example, the most recent verses deal with laws and priestly rules and regulations. While the oldest verses are more poetic and elegant. Thus, the poems and songs of the bible tend to be the oldest parts of it. This song is expected to be especially old because of its duplication. In order for it to be duplicated it had to exist in both the Jahwist and Elohist sources, but in order for that to happen, the song had to predate both of them.
Finally, today is 11/11/11, and if you use a base-ten counting system and a two-digit year, it looks neat.