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Miriam's Song (the Song of the Sea) - Exodus 15 - Metrical pattern

This page explores the metrical pattern used in Exodus 15. As explained on a companion page, Ugaritic and archaic Hebrew used a simple metrical structure built around blocks of 2 or 3 stresses in a thematic line. The Ugaritic epics are more consistently built of pairs of 3-stress lines, and the mixed 2/3 stress examples appear more commonly in the non-epic cycles. Later Hebrew poetry used more complex metrical patterns, or specific structures such as the Lament (Qinah) pattern with alternating lines of 3 then 2 stresses. We will see here that Exodus 15 is built around the mixed 2/3 metrical pattern.

The stress count is simplistically a count of individual words, Hebrew following a convention where there is a single stress per word. In most cases (the exceptions largely being in relation to suffixes) the stress falls on the last syllable. However, where words are joined with maqqeph (shown here by a hyphen) the stress is lost from the first word so that the whole counts as a single rhythmic unit.

The following conventions have been used in the suggested reconstruction - š for sh, Ħ for ch and ŧ for ts - this has been done in order to highlight the single-consonant nature of these letters. L and b stand respectively for longum and breve (long and short) as regards line length. This normally (but not invariably) corresponds to 3 and 2 stress counts. For explanations of the various reconstructions, the references at the foot of the page should be consulted.

 Masoretic text  Suggested archaic consonantal reconstruction
 TextStress countLine length  TextStress countLine length
1. ’ashîyrah laYHVH
kîy-gâ’ôh gâ’âh
çûç werôkebôw
râmâh bayyam
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
  ’šr   lyhw
k-g’   g’
çç   wrkb
rm   bym
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
2. âzzîy wezimrâth yâh
wayehîy-lîy lîyshûâh
zeh ’êlîy we’anewêhû
elôhêy ’âbîy wa’arômemenhû
3
2
3
3
L
b
L
L
  ‘z   wzmrt   yhw
yhy   ly   lyš‘
z   ’l   w’nwh
’lh   ’b   w’rmmnh
3
3
3
3
L
L
L
L
3. YHVH ’îysh milchâmâh
YHVH shemôw
3
2
L
b
  yhw   gbr
yhw   šm
2
2
b
b
4. markebôth parôh wechêylôw
yârâh bayyâm
ûmibechar shâlishâyw
tubbeû beyam-çuph
3
2
2
2
L
b
b
b
  pr‘   wĦl
yr   bym
mbĦr   šlšw
tb‘   bym-çp
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
5. tehômôth yekaçyumû
yâredû bimetsôwlôth kemôw-’âben
2
3
b
L
  thmt   ykçym   klm
yrd   bmŧlt   km-’bn
3
3
L
L
6. yemîynekâ YHVH
ne’dârîy bakôach
yemîynekâ YHVH
tirats ’ôwyêb
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
  ymnk   yhw
n’dr   bkĦ
ymnk   yhw
tr‘ŧ   ’yb
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
7. ûberôb ge’ôwne
taharôç qâmeykâ
teshallach charône
yô’kelêmôw kaqqash
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
  brb   g’nk
thrç   qmk
tšlĦ   Ħrnk
y’klm   kqš
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
8. ûberûach ’appeykâ
neeremû mayim
nitstsebû kemôw-nêd nôzelîym
qâphe’û tehômôth beleb-yam
2
2
3
3
b
b
L
L
  brĦ   ’pk
n‘rm   mm
nŧb   km-nd   nzlm
qp’   thmt   blb-ym
2
2
3
3
b
b
L
L
9. ’âmar ’ôyeb
’eredôph ’assîyg
achallêq shâlâl
timelâ’êmôw napheshîy
’ârîyq charebîy
tôwrîyshêmôw yâdîy
2
2
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
b
b
  ’mr   ’yb
’rdp   ’sg
’Ħlq   šll
tml’m   npš
’rq   Ħrb
tršm   yd
2
2
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
b
b
10. nâshaphetâ berûcha
kiççâmôw yâm
tsâlalû kaôphereth
bemayim ’addîyrîym
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
  nšpt   brĦk
kçm   ym
ŧll   k‘prt
bmm   ’drm
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
11. mîy-kâmôkâh bâ’êlim YHVH
mîy kâmôkâh ne’dâr baqqôdesh
nôwrâ’ tehillôth
ôsêh-phele’
3
4
2
1
L
L
b
b
  m-kmk   b’lm   yhw
m-kmk   n’dr   bqdšm
nr’   thlt
‘s   pl’
3
3
2
2
L
L
b
b
12. tîythâ yemîyne
tiblâêmôw ’arets
2
2
b
b
  ntt   ymnk
tbl‘m   ’rŧ
2
2
b
b
13. nâchîytâ bechaçde
am-zû gâ’ale
nêhaletâ beâzze
el-newêh qâdeshekâ
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
  nĦt   bĦçdk
‘m   z-g’lt
nhlt   b‘zk
‘l-nw   qdšk
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
14. shâmeû ammîym yiregâzûn
chîyl ’âchaz yôshebêy pelâshêth
3
4
L
L
  šm‘   ‘mm yrgzn
Ħl   ’Ħz   yšb-plšt
3
3
L
L
15. ’âz nibeha
’allûpêy ’edôm
’êylêy môw’âb
yo’chazêmû raad
nâmôgû kôl yôshebêy kean
2
2
2
2
4
b
b
b
b
L
  ’z   nbhl
’lp   ’dm
’l   m’b
y’Ħzm   r‘d
nmg   kl   yšb-kn‘n
2
2
2
2
3
b
b
b
b
L
16. tippôl alêhem
’êymâtâh wâphachad
bigedôl zerôwa
yidemû kâ’âben
ad-yaabôr ammekâ YHVH
ad-yaabôr am-zû qânîythâ
2
2
2
2
3
3
b
b
b
b
L
L
  tpl   ‘lhm
’mt   wpĦd
bgdl   zr‘k
ydm   k’bn
‘d-y‘br   ‘mk   yhw
‘d-y‘br   ‘mk   z-qnt
2
2
2
2
3
3
b
b
b
b
L
L
17. tebi’êmôw wetittâêmôw
behar nachalâte
mâkôwn leshibte
aletâ YHVH
miqqedâsh ’adônây
kôwnenû yâdeykâ
2
2
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
b
b
  tb’m   tt‘m
bhr   nĦltk
mkn   lšbtk
p‘lt   yhw
mqdš   yhw
knn   ydk
2
2
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
b
b
18. YHVH yimelôkâ
leôlâm wâed
2
2
b
b
  ywh   ymlk
l‘lm   w‘d
2
2
b
b
19. kîy bâ’ çûç parôh
berikhebôw ûbephârâshâyw bayyâm
wayyâshab YHVH
alêhem ’eth-mêy hayyâm
ûbenêy yisrâ’êl
hâlekhôw bayyabâshâh
bethôwkh hayyâm
4
3
2
3
2
2
2
L
L
b
L
b
b
b
  b’   çç   pr‘
brkb   wbprš   bym
wyšb   yhw
‘lhm   hym
wbn   ysr’l
hlk   bybš
btk   hym
3
3
2
2
2
2
2
L
L
b
b
b
b
b
20. wattiqqach miryâm hannebîy’âh
achôwth ’aharôn
’eth-hattôph beyâddâh
wattêtse’n kol-hannâshîym ’achareyhâ
bethuppîym ûbimechôlôth
3
2
2
3
2
L
b
b
L
b
  wtqĦ   mrym
’Ħt   ’hrn
tp   byd
wtŧ’n   kl-nšm
btpm   ûbmĦlt
2
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
b
21. wattaan lâhem miryâm
shîyrû laYHVH
kîy-gâ’ôh gâ’âh
çûç werôkebôw
râmâh bayyam
3
2
2
2
2
L
b
b
b
b
  wt‘n   mrym
šr   lyhw
k-g’   g’
çç   wrkb
rm   bym
2
2
2
2
2
b
b
b
b
b
Translations