Exodus 15 contains the song sung by Moses and the Israelites after Pharaoh’s military had been swept away by the sea. Miriam and the women took timbrels (tambourines) and began to sing and dance after the Lord’s great deliverance at the Red Sea in response to Moses’ song. The music of this time was primarily driven by rhythm as indicated by the use of timbrels and dancing. Clay images from this period show musicians with musical percussion instruments to always be women. This would seem likely since the men were the ones fighting the battles that, when won, the women would be prepared to sing, dance and rejoice.
A portion of the lyrics of this song which was written by Moses speaks of God’s “unfailing love” that will “lead the people” he has “redeemed.” “Unfailing love” is from the Hebrew word chesedh and is a specific reference to “covenant love.” Since, the Lord’s relationship with Israel is based in an unbreakable covenant, his relationship (“love”) with them is “unbreakable,” “bound by the covenant,” or “unfailing.” This “love” or “relationship” is not an emotional feeling, but a bond of a covenant, a contract, or a legal agreement. Israel is beginning to learn to trust this covenant with Yahweh. What he promised, he will do.
The people of Abraham’s covenant have been “redeemed,” or ga’al, which means to take back, such as, taking back or possessing family property as in the case of the kinsman redeemer. Ga'al also means to purchase out of bondage. The Lord has proven his faithfulness by coming to Egypt to get his people after 400 years as he prophesied to Abraham in Genesis 15:13-16.
Israel can rejoice and be assured that the Lord, with his divine strength, will continue to lead his people until he takes them to his “holy dwelling.” The location of God’s “holy dwelling” to where Yahweh is leading his people is ultimately, Mount Moriah in Jerusalem in the Promised Land of Canaan. So, in context, first, the place of his “holy dwelling” is the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Lord will continue to lead Israel to the Promised Land!
The people must be made ready. Then, they must possess the Promised Land. After they have secured the Land, the time will come for them to take possession of the city of Jerusalem and, then, at the right time they will be instructed to build a temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem for God’s holy dwelling place. It is here they will have access to the Temple which will be used for worship and fellowship with the Lord. The year this song was sung is around 1445 BC, but David will not take Jerusalem until about 1005 BC. Then, around 950 BC Solomon will build the Temple for the Lord.