Exodus 15:20
Parallel Verses
New International Version
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron's sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.

King James Bible
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Darby Bible Translation
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the tambour in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambours and with dances.

World English Bible
Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dances.

Young's Literal Translation
And Miriam the inspired one, sister of Aaron, taketh the timbrel in her hand, and all the women go out after her, with timbrels and with choruses;

Exodus 15:20 Parallel
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

And Miriam the prophetess - We have already seen that Miriam was older than either Moses or Aaron: for when Moses was exposed on the Nile, she was a young girl capable of managing the stratagem used for the preservation of his life; and then Aaron was only three years and three months old, for he was fourscore and three years old when Moses was but fourscore, (see Exodus 7:7); so that Aaron was older than Moses, and Miriam considerably older than either, not less probably than nine or ten years of age. See Clarke's notes on Exodus 2:2. There is great diversity of opinion on the origin of the name of Miriam, which is the same with the Greek Μαριαμ, the Latin Maria, and the English Mary. Some suppose it to be compounded of מר mar, a drop, (Isaiah 40:15), and ים yam, the sea, and that from this etymology the heathens formed their Venus, whom they feign to have sprung from the sea. St. Jerome gives several etymologies for the name, which at once show how difficult it is to ascertain it: she who enlightens me, or she who enlightens them, or the star of the sea. Others, the lady of the sea, the bitterness of the sea, etc. It is probable that the first or the last is the true one, but it is a matter of little importance, as we have not the circumstance marked, as in the case of Moses and many others, that gave rise to the name.

The prophetess - הנביאה hannebiah. For the meaning of the word prophet, נביא nabi, see the note on Genesis 20:7. It is very likely that Miriam was inspired by the Spirit of God to instruct the Hebrew women, as Moses and Aaron were to instruct the men; and when she and her brother Aaron sought to share in the government of the people with Moses, we find her laying claim to the prophetic influence, Numbers 12:2 : Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath he not Spoken Also By Us? And that she was constituted joint leader of the people with her two brothers, we have the express word of God by the Prophet Micah, Micah 6:4 : For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt - and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Hence it is very likely that she was the instructress of the women, and regulated the times, places, etc., of their devotional acts; for it appears that from the beginning to the present day the Jewish women all worshipped apart.

A timbrel - תף toph, the same word which is translated tabret, Genesis 31:27, on which the reader is desired to consult the note. See Clarke's note on Genesis 31:27.

And with dances - מחלת mecholoth. Many learned men suppose that this word means some instruments of wind music, because the word comes from the root חלל chalal, the ideal meaning of which is to perforate, penetrate, pierce, stab, and hence to wound. Pipes or hollow tubes, such as flutes, hautboys, and the like, may be intended. Both the Arabic and Persian understand it as meaning instruments of music of the pipe, drum, or sistrum kind; and this seems to comport better with the scope and design of the place than the term dances. It must however be allowed that religious dances have been in use from the remotest times; and yet in most of the places where the term occurs in our translation, an instrument of music bids as fair to be its meaning as a dance of any kind. Miriam is the first prophetess on record, and by this we find that God not only poured out his Spirit upon men, but upon women also; and we learn also that Miriam was not only a prophetess, but a poetess also, and must have had considerable skill in music to have been able to conduct her part of these solemnities. It may appear strange that during so long an oppression in Egypt, the Israelites were able to cultivate the fine arts; but that they did so there is the utmost evidence from the Pentateuch. Not only architecture, weaving, and such necessary arts, were well known among them, but also the arts that are called ornamental, such as those of the goldsmith, lapidary, embroiderer, furrier, etc., of which we have ample proof in the construction of the tabernacle and its utensils. However ungrateful, rebellious, etc., the Jews may have been, the praise of industry and economy can never be denied them. In former ages, and in all places even of their dispersions, they appear to have been frugal and industrious, and capable of great proficiency in the most elegant and curious arts; but they are now greatly degenerated.

Exodus 15:20, 21So Jephthah's daughter collected a chorus or virgins, and with dances and songs came out to meet her father, and to celebrate his victory, Judges 11:34. After David's conquest of Goliath, "all the women came out of the cities of Israel singing and dancing to meet Saul, with tabrets, with joy, and with instruments of music;" and, forming themselves into two choruses, they sang alternately: -

"Saul has slain his thousands:

And David his ten thousands."


Treasury of Scripture Knowledge


Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

1 Samuel 10:5 After that you shall come to the hill of God, where is the garrison of the Philistines: and it shall come to pass...

2 Kings 22:14 So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went to Huldah the prophetess...

Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age...

Acts 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman that prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted to them to speak...


Exodus 2:4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

Numbers 20:1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month...

Numbers 26:59 And the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, whom her mother bore to Levi in Egypt...

Micah 6:4 For I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of servants; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron...

a timbrel. Toph, in Arabic called duff or diff is the tabret used in the East; being a thin, broad, wooden hoop, with parchment extended over one side of it, to which small pieces of brass, thin, etc., are attached, which made a jingling noise; it is held up with one hand and beaten upon with the other, and is precisely the same as the tambourine. all the

Judges 11:34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh to his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances...

Judges 21:21 And see, and, behold, if the daughters of Shiloh come out to dance in dances, then come you out of the vineyards...

1 Samuel 18:6 And it came to pass as they came, when David was returned from the slaughter of the Philistine...

2 Samuel 6:5,14,16 And David and all the house of Israel played before the LORD on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps...

Psalm 68:11,25 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it...

Psalm 81:2 Take a psalm, and bring here the tambourine, the pleasant harp with the psaltery.

Psalm 149:3 Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises to him with the tambourine and harp.

Psalm 150:4 Praise him with the tambourine and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

October 5. "He Hath Triumphed Gloriously" (Ex. xv. 1).
"He hath triumphed gloriously" (Ex. xv. 1). Beloved, God calls us to victory. Have any of you given up the conflict, have you surrendered? Have you said, "This thing is too much"? Have you said, "I can give up anything else but this"? If you have, you are not in the land of promise. God means you should accept every difficult thing that comes in your life. He has started with you, knowing every difficulty. And if you dare to let Him, He will carry you through not only to be conquerors, but "more
Rev. A. B. Simpson—Days of Heaven Upon Earth

The Ultimate Hope
Thou shalt bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Thine inheritance....'--EXODUS xv. 17. I. The lesson taught by each present deliverance and kindness is that we shall be brought to His rest at last. (a) Daily mercies are a pledge and a pattern of His continuous acts. The confidence that we shall be kept is based upon no hard doctrine of final perseverance, but on the assurance that God is always the same, like the sunshine which has poured out for all these millenniums and still rushes
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

Salvation Published from the Mountains
O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! I t would be improper to propose an alteration, though a slight one, in the reading of a text, without bearing my testimony to the great value of our English version, which I believe, in point of simplicity, strength, and fidelity, is not likely to be excelled by a new translation
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

The Personality of Power.
A Personally Conducted Journey. Everyone enjoys the pleasure of travel; but nearly all shrink back from its tiresomeness and drudgery. The transportation companies are constantly scheming to overcome this disagreeable side for both pleasure and business travel. One of the popular ways of pleasure travel of late is by means of personally conducted tours. A party is formed, often by the railroad company, and is accompanied by a special agent to attend to all the business matters of the trip. A variation
S.D. Gordon—Quiet Talks on Power

Cross References
Genesis 31:27
Why did you run off secretly and deceive me? Why didn't you tell me, so I could send you away with joy and singing to the music of timbrels and harps?

Exodus 2:4
His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Numbers 26:59
the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister Miriam.

Judges 11:34
When Jephthah returned to his home in Mizpah, who should come out to meet him but his daughter, dancing to the sound of timbrels! She was an only child. Except for her he had neither son nor daughter.

Judges 21:21
and watch. When the young women of Shiloh come out to join in the dancing, rush from the vineyards and each of you seize one of them to be your wife. Then return to the land of Benjamin.

1 Samuel 18:6
When the men were returning home after David had killed the Philistine, the women came out from all the towns of Israel to meet King Saul with singing and dancing, with joyful songs and with timbrels and lyres.

2 Samuel 1:20
"Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.

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