The Song of Moses in Exodus 15 ends with a prophecy that the peoples of Canaan will fear the Israelites and let them pass into their land, and that God will lead the Israelites up onto his holy mountain and to his temple. It is difficult to see this as something other than Jerusalem and the sanctuary there.

It seems a bit unlikely, though not impossible, that a detailed list of the people living in Canaan should be part of a song the Israelites sing before they enter the land. They have been slaves in Egypt for 450 years – do they know the land they are moving towards from more than legends of the past? Have they travelled as slaves?

Downright impossible biblically is the statement that God will lead them to the temple in Jerusalem, as it has not yet been built. The text doesn’t prophecy that it will be built, it says that it is already there.

This is a typical feature of parts of the biblical histories. It shows that they are written much later than the events which they tell of, so much later that they in some ways reflect more of the writer’s time and thoughts than the situation when the events first occured.

In order to avoid this conclusion, one must twist the text’s own natural meaning and construe it as a prophecy in a stronger sense than it itself seems to claim. Is that necessary?