Psalms

PSALM 114*

The Lord’s Wonders at the Exodus

1When Israel came forth from Egypt,

the house of Jacob from an alien people,

2Judah became God’s sanctuary,

Israel, God’s domain.a

3*The sea saw and fled;

the Jordan turned back.b

4The mountains skipped like rams;

the hills, like lambs.c

5Why was it, sea, that you fled?

Jordan, that you turned back?

6Mountains, that you skipped like rams?

You hills, like lambs?

7Tremble, earth, before the Lord,d

before the God of Jacob,

8*Who turned the rock into pools of water,

flint into a flowing spring.e

* [Psalm 114] A hymn celebrating Israel’s escape from Egypt, journey through the wilderness, and entry into the promised land, and the miracles of nature that bore witness to God’s presence in their midst. In the perspective of the Psalm, the people proceed directly from Egypt into the promised land (Ps 114:12). Sea and Jordan, which stood like soldiers barring the people from their land, flee before the mighty God as the earth recoils from the battle (Ps 114:34). The poet taunts the natural elements as one taunts defeated enemies (Ps 114:56).

* [114:34] Pairs of cosmic elements such as sea and rivers, mountains and hills, are sometimes mentioned in creation accounts. Personified here as warriors, the pairs tremble in fear before the Divine Warrior. The quaking also recalls the divine appearance in the storm at Sinai (Ex 19:1619) and elsewhere (Jgs 5:45; Ps 18:715).

* [114:8] The miracles of giving drink to the people in the arid desert, cf. Ex 17:17; Is 41:1718.

a. [114:2] Ex 19:6.

b. [114:3] Ps 66:6; 74:15; Ex 14:21f; Jos 3:14ff.

c. [114:4] Ps 29:6; Wis 19:9.

d. [114:7] Ps 68:9.

e. [114:8] Ex 17:6; Nm 20:11.

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