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Chapter 19

But merciless wrath assailed the wicked until the end,
    for God knew beforehand what they were yet to do:(A)
That though they themselves had agreed to the departure
    and had anxiously sent them on their way,
    they would regret it and pursue them.(B)
For while they were still engaged in funeral rites
    and mourning at the burials of the dead,
They adopted another senseless plan:
    those whom they had driven out with entreaties
    they now pursued as fugitives.(C)
For a compulsion appropriate to this ending drew them on,
    and made them forget what had befallen them,
That they might complete the torments of their punishment,
    and your people might experience a glorious[a] journey
    while those others met an extraordinary death.

[b]For all creation, in its several kinds, was being made over anew,
    serving your commands, that your children might be preserved unharmed.(D)
The cloud overshadowed their camp;
    and out of what had been water, dry land was seen emerging:
Out of the Red Sea an unimpeded road,
    and a grassy plain out of the mighty flood.(E)
Over this crossed the whole nation sheltered by your hand,
    and they beheld stupendous wonders.
For they ranged about like horses,
    and leapt like lambs,
    praising you, Lord, their deliverer.(F)
10 For they were still mindful of what had happened in their sojourn:
    how instead of the young of animals the land brought forth gnats,
    and instead of fishes the river swarmed with countless frogs.(G)
11 And later they saw also a new kind of bird(H)
    when, prompted by desire, they asked for pleasant foods;
12 For to appease them quail came to them from the sea.
13 And the punishments came upon the sinners
    not without forewarnings from the violence of the thunderbolts.

For they justly suffered for their own misdeeds,
    since they treated their guests with the more grievous[c] hatred.(I)
14 For those others[d] did not receive unfamiliar visitors,(J)
    but these were enslaving beneficent guests.
15 And not that only; but what punishment was to be theirs[e]
    since they received strangers unwillingly!
16 Yet these,[f] after welcoming them with festivities,
    oppressed with awful toils
    those who had shared with them the same rights.(K)
17 And they were struck with blindness,[g]
    as those others had been at the doors of the righteous man—
When, surrounded by yawning darkness,
    each sought the entrance of his own door.(L)

18 For the elements, in ever-changing harmony,
    like strings of the harp, produce new melody,
    while the flow of music steadily persists.
And this can be perceived exactly from a review of what took place.
19 For land creatures were changed into water creatures,
    and those that swam went over on land.
20 Fire in water maintained its own strength,(M)
    and water forgot its quenching nature;
21 Flames, by contrast, neither consumed the flesh
    of the perishable animals that went about in them,
    nor melted the icelike, quick-melting kind of ambrosial food.
22 For every way, Lord! you magnified and glorified your people;
    unfailing, you stood by them in every time and circumstance.(N)


  1. 19:5 Glorious: more precisely, “wondrous,” but the word reflects “glorified” in 18:8 and 19:22.
  2. 19:6 The cooperation of creation in Israel’s deliverance (vv. 7–12) under the direction of the Lord is a favorite theme; cf. 16:24–25.
  3. 19:13 More grievous: than that of the people of Sodom (Gn 19) with whom the Egyptians are compared.
  4. 19:14 Others: the people of Sodom refused to receive strangers. Beneficent: because of the services rendered by Joseph.
  5. 19:15 Theirs: the people of Sodom.
  6. 19:16 These: the Egyptians.
  7. 19:17 Blindness: the plague of darkness. Righteous man: Lot (Gn 19:11).