What does Exodus 15:20-21 really mean?

Exodus 15:20-21 is about Miriam, the prophetess and sister of Moses, leading the women in joyful singing and dancing to praise God for delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians, illustrating the importance of celebrating victories with gratitude and worship.

20 Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.
21 And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”


Setting the Scene for Exodus 15:20-21

The scene in Exodus 15:20-21 takes place shortly after the Israelites have crossed the Red Sea on dry ground, witnessing the miraculous deliverance from the pursuing Egyptian army. The people are filled with awe and gratitude for God’s mighty act of salvation. As they reach the other side of the sea, Moses’ sister, Miriam, takes the lead in celebrating the victory. She is joined by other women who have tambourines in their hands, and they begin to dance and sing praises to the Lord for His deliverance.

The surroundings are awe-inspiring, with the vast expanse of the Red Sea behind them and the desert stretching out before them. The Israelites are still in the immediate aftermath of their escape, with the sound of the crashing waves of the sea still echoing in their ears. The atmosphere is one of jubilation and thanksgiving as the people rejoice in their newfound freedom and safety. Miriam’s leadership in this celebration sets the tone for the community to come together in worship and praise, acknowledging God’s power and faithfulness in their lives.

What is Exodus 15:20-21 about?

Imagine the immense relief and joy the Israelites must have felt after crossing the Red Sea, witnessing the miraculous parting of the waters and escaping Pharaoh’s army. Miriam, Moses’ sister, took charge and led the women in celebration through singing and dancing. This act of communal expression not only served as a way to honor and thank God for their deliverance but also unified the community in gratitude and praise.

Have you ever experienced a moment of overwhelming gratitude or relief that moved you to express it through song or dance? Miriam’s leadership in this joyful celebration teaches us the power of communal expression and the importance of coming together in moments of triumph or hardship. It reminds us that music and movement have the ability to convey emotions that words sometimes cannot, and that through shared experiences of worship and celebration, we can strengthen our bonds with one another and with the divine.

Understanding what Exodus 15:20-21 really means


In the midst of the jubilant aftermath of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea, we encounter a poignant scene in Exodus 15:20-21. These verses form part of the Song of the Sea, a hymn of praise sung by the Israelites to celebrate their deliverance from the Egyptian army. At the center of this celebration is Miriam, the prophetess and sister of Aaron, who leads the women in song and dance, embodying a spirit of gratitude and worship.

Meaningful Phrases and Detailed Explanation

The mention of “Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand” underscores Miriam’s significant role as a leader and prophetess within the community. This phrase highlights her spiritual authority and the reverence she commanded among the Israelites. As “all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing,” we witness the communal nature of worship and celebration. This collective expression of joy emphasizes unity and shared exaltation among the people. The declaration to “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea” resounds with praise for God’s power and deliverance, celebrating the defeat of the Egyptians and the salvation of the Israelites.

Related Biblical Passages

Drawing parallels with Exodus 14:30-31, we see the immediate aftermath of the Red Sea crossing, where the Israelites witnessed the Lord’s power and placed their trust in Him and in Moses. Psalm 106:12 echoes a similar sentiment, emphasizing belief in God’s promises and the resulting praise. In Luke 1:46-55, Mary’s Magnificat mirrors Miriam’s song, illustrating a continuity of God’s deliverance and the response of worship across generations.

Relevance to People Today

These verses resonate with contemporary audiences by highlighting themes of faith in deliverance, the role of women in worship, and the importance of communal celebration. Just as the Israelites found hope in God’s deliverance, individuals today can draw strength from the belief in God’s power to overcome challenges. Miriam’s leadership underscores the vital role women play in spiritual life, promoting inclusivity and acknowledging diverse contributions within faith communities. The communal celebration depicted serves as a reminder of the significance of shared experiences and collective worship in our spiritual journeys.


Consider a community that has weathered a significant trial, such as recovering from a natural disaster. The relief and gratitude experienced can lead to a communal celebration akin to the response of the Israelites. Picture a church congregation coming together to give thanks after their town was spared from a devastating storm. Through hymns, testimonies, and expressions of gratitude, they mirror the joy and unity witnessed in Miriam’s song.


Exodus 15:20-21 prompts reflection on the power of collective worship, the importance of acknowledging God’s deliverance, and the significant roles individuals play in inspiring their communities. These verses encourage us to trust in God’s power, celebrate victories together, and honor the contributions of all members within our faith communities.

How can we express gratitude and praise to God daily?

One way we can express gratitude and praise to God daily is through music and singing. We can also lift our voices in song to honor and thank Him for His goodness and faithfulness in our lives, just as Miriam and the women of Israel sang and danced to praise God for His victory in the book of Exodus. Singing praises to God can uplift our spirits, remind us of His greatness, and help us to focus on His blessings rather than our challenges.

Another way to show gratitude and praise to God daily is through prayer and thanksgiving. We can take time each day to thank God for His provision, protection, and presence in our lives. We acknowledge God’s goodness, express our trust in Him, and cultivate a heart of thankfulness by expressing our gratitude in prayer. Through prayer, we can draw closer to God and experience the joy and peace that come from recognizing and praising His work in our lives.

Additionally, we can show our gratitude and praise to God daily by serving and loving others. We reflect God’s love and character to the world as we extend kindness, mercy, and compassion to those around us. We bless those in need and honor God by living out our faith in practical ways and serving others with a heart of gratitude, bringing glory to His name. Our actions can be a testament to God’s faithfulness and goodness, showing others the transformative power of His love in our lives.


Get ready to tap into the strength of praise and worship! Channel your inner Miriam and boldly lift your voice in awe of God’s greatness. Let’s make a pact to celebrate God’s victories just like the women of Israel did. Are you up for letting your gratitude shine through music and movement today?