Home » Book Reviews » Trimm’s “YHWH Fights for Them!” (Divine Warrior in Exod)

Trimm’s “YHWH Fights for Them!” (Divine Warrior in Exod)

I just finished my review on Charlie Trimm’s published dissertation “YHWH Fights for Them!”: The Divine Warrior in the Exodus Narrative. My dissertation (in progress) involves a good amount of work on the divine warrior and divine builder motif in Ps 68, so I really reaped a lot of benefit from Trimm’s work. In ch. 2 he extracts themes and motifs from the poetic Divine Warrior texts; in ch. 3 he argues that Exod 1-14 contain these themes and motifs; chs. 4-6 argue that additional material not found in the poetic texts are expansions of the genre rather than deviations (narratival, martial, and relational expansions); ch. 7 applies this lens to Pharaoh’s heart problem to solve the ethical dilemma (his analysis is interesting).

My review suggests there are some issues with his main thesis. Namely, he does not deal with any dating issues, and that would determine whether “the author” (as Trimm calls him) could have appropriated the genre. Under a traditional view of the OT’s composition, only Exod 15 would have existed at the time of composition of Exod 1-14, and perhaps only in oral form, so there would have been no genre yet to appropriate. If he dates Exod 1-14 later, or if he believes there is redactional activity to bring the narrative into conformity with the genre that arises later, then he should have explained his views and explored them. I also wonder whether the author is intentionally crafting the narrative in the Divine Warrior tradition, or simply telling the story as he understood it from his worldview. Now, if all he means to argue is that there is a formal similarity (incidental) between Exod 1-14 and the divine warrior poems, then his thesis would hold, but if the same author wrote chs. 1-14 and 15, then the similarity is surely more than incidental.

I enjoyed Trimm’s synchronic analysis of Exodus, interpreting the ideas and motifs within their ANE milieu (even if it does invite the problem for his thesis mentioned above). I would recommend this work to anyone interested in the divine warrior motif and in OT theology generally.


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