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F. M. Cross on Psalm 114

January 25, 2009

Previously I posted Kraus’ take on the cultic background of Psalm 114, here I wish to post a short extract of Cross’ explanation:

More can be said about the mode in which the episode at the Reed Sea and associated traditions evolved in Israel’s early cultus. In the last chapter we discussed the reconstruction of the cultus at the early league shrine at Gilgal from traditions preserved in Joshua 3-5. The Ark was borne in solemn procession from the battle-camp across the Jordan at Abel-shittim to the river and from thence to the shrine at Gilgal where a covenant-renewal ceremony was consummated. The crossing of the Jordan which was ‘divided’, that is, dammed, so that Israel in battle array could pass over on dry ground, was understood as dramatic reenactment of the crossing of the sea, and as well the ‘crossing over’ to the new land in the Conquest. Exodus and entrance, the sea-crossing from Egypt and the river-crossing of the Conquest were ritually fused in these cultic acts, followed then by the consummation of the covenant which created the community at Sinai and established them in the land at Gilgal. Yahweh dried up River as he had dried up Sea (Joshua 5:1). The cultic identity of River and Sea, of course, lies close at hand in Canaanite myth in which Prince Sea and Judge River are formulaic pairs. The pairing of Sea and Jordan is found in Psalm 114.

Cross, F. M. (1973) Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic. Harvard University Press. pp.138

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