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Is the statement "Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?" in Exodus 15:11 one of the answers to Pharaoh's question "Who is the LORD?" (Exodus 5:2)? Note, this would not be answer directly to Pharaoh, but an answer to the reader of Exodus.

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2, ESV)

The lemma ידע (know) occurs 45 times in 43 verses (Logos Bible Software search) and is a major theme in Exodus. The ten plagues answered Pharaoh's question.

Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:4–5, ESV)

This verse in the song seems to wrap up the answer to Pharaoh's question:

  “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? 
  Who is like you, majestic in holiness, 
  awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? 
                        (Exodus 15:11, ESV)

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I have always understood that the story of the Exodus plagues was aimed at showing the Egyptians and Israelites one simple fact:

That YHWH was not simply a god among many gods, but THE God, the one and only true God.

This is evidenced by the following facts:

  • the story is book-ended by the two rhetorical questions of "Who is YHWH?", asked by Pharaoh; and, "Who among the gods is like YHWH?" asked in the song of Moses.
  • each of the 10 plagues was specifically aimed as discrediting one of the Egyptian gods. See appendix below.
  • the whole "Song of Moses" in Ex 15 was established as permanent reminder of the victory of YHWH over all false gods "who are not gods at all" (Jer 2:11, 5:7, 2 Kings 19:18, Isa 37:19) and constantly rehearsed since. [There is allusion to this in Rev 15:3, 4.] Another "Song of Moses is recorded in Deut 32.
  • the very first provision of the Israelite covenant established, only a few months later at Sinai, was the famous quote (Ex 20:2, 3):

“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me."

As if to confirm this, in Moses' final speeches to Israel before his death, he reminds the people of their history and its central message:

  • Deut 4:35 - You were shown these things [wonders in Egypt] so that you would know that the LORD is God; there is no other besides Him.
  • Deut 5:6, 7 - “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me.
  • Deut 6:4, 5 - Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is One. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
  • Deut 10:17 - For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God ...
  • Deut 32:39 - See now that I am He; there is no God besides Me. I bring death and I give life; I wound and I heal, and there is no one who can deliver from My hand.

APPENDIX - 10 Plagues of Egypt

Each of the 10 plagues of egypt was specifically designed to discredit on of the Egyptian gods and show that they were not gods at all and that YHWH is the one and only true God of heaven and earth. Here is the common list of gods each plague discredited:

  1. Water Turned to Blood (Hapi)
  2. Frogs Coming From the Nile (Heket)
  3. Lice From the Earth's Dust (Geb)
  4. Swarms of Flies (Khepri)
  5. Death of Cattle and Livestock (Hathor)
  6. Ashes Turned to Boils and Sores (Isis)
  7. Hail in the Form of Fire (Nut)
  8. Locus Sent From the Sky (Seth)
  9. Three Days of Complete Darkness (Ra)
  10. Death of the Firstborn (Pharaoh)
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Exodus 15 is a song of praise addressed to God after the crossing of the Sea, not an answer to the Pharaoh. (Ex. 15.1: "Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord.") It may indeed be an answer for us to the Pharaoh's question, but he is out of the picture by this point. His question was already answered in Ex. 5.

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.’” 2 But Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should heed his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go.” 3 Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us; let us go, we pray, a three days’ journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to the Lord our God, lest he fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword.”

Admittedly, this answer is somewhat circular: Pharaoh asks "Who is YHWH?" Moses and Aaron basically say: "he is the deity who sent us; and we have to do what he says or suffer dire consequences."

By the time the song of Ex. 15 is sung, Pharaoh has gotten a much more dramatic answer, because he and his people themselves have suffered grave consequences in the form of the ten plagues and the loss of the Egyptian army. Moreover he has witnessed or heard reports about the pillars of fire and cloud, and the miracle of the parting of the waters.

The Pharaoh does not hear the song, but he did witness the events prophesied in Ex. Exodus 7:4–5. So the song of Moses is not an answer to the Pharaoh. But we may consider it as an answer for us to the question that he asked.

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  • Thanks for clarifying this question. My intention was for the answer to be to the reader of Exodus, not an answer to Pharaoh directly. I can see how someone might think that the question is asking if the answer is directedly to Pharaoh.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Apr 1, 2023 at 17:55

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