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Why did the Jewish people only praise god with song after the miracle that occurred at the splitting of the sea?

Were the miracles of the ten plagues not significant enough for the Jews to praise god?

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The midrash in Mechilta de'Rabbi Yishmael 15:1 states:

"R. Nechemiah says: If one takes upon himself a single mitzvah in (true) faith, he is worthy of having the Holy Spirit repose upon him. And thus do we find with Moses, David, and Devorah that (in the fulness of their faith) they chanted song and the Holy Spirit reposed upon them. And thus do you find that Israel were redeemed from Egypt only in reward for their faith, viz. (Exodus 4:31) "And the people believed, etc." [...]"

The base of Rabbi Nechemiah's argument is a form of traditional Jewish exegesis, the hekesh (two phrases or verses that follow one another must be directly related), in this case, the verse "And when Israel saw the wondrous power which the LORD had wielded against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD; they had faith in the LORD and in His servant Moses." is immediately followed by the verse "Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD. They said: I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver He has hurled into the sea." The conclusion is that one led to the next: The belief led to all of the Nation of Yisrael attaining a level of prophecy and then singing out that prophecy. This is the first time within the Exodus story that we find Yisrael explicitly believing in Hashem,1 hence this being the first time they sang out a song (of prophecy).


1 There was one other time it is stated that they believed, in Exodus 4:31, but it's not clear that they believed in Hashem. More that they believed they were likely to be freed from exile soon. The term used by the translation used by Sefaria to translate the word there, "convinced", seems appropriate.

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The Meshech Chochma Shemos 12:16 explains that there is no praise or rejoicing over the punishment to our enemies. We always give praise and rejoice over our deliverance rather than over the punishment of the enemy. This is true by Pesach, Purim, and Chanukah. In each instance we don’t rejoice over the death of Haman, the Greeks, or the Egyptians. We rejoice over the “nachu m’oveyam”, the restoration of the Avoda, and the deliverance from Egypt.

לא כן בישראל המה לא ישמחו על מפלת אויביהם ולא יחוגו בשמחה ע"ז וכמו שאמר בנפול אויבך אל תשמח כו' פן יראה ד' ורע בעיניו והשיב מעליו אפו הרי דאדם המעלה אינו שמח בנפול אויבו משום שהשמחה רע בעיני ד' הלא הרע בעיני ד' צריך לשנאותו ולכך לא נזכר בפסח חג המצות כי בו עשה במצרים שפטים רק כי הוציא ד' את ב"י ממצרים אבל על מפלת האויבים אין חג ויו"ט לישראל

וכן מפורש בילקוט רמז תרנ"ד שלכן לא כתב שמחה בפסח ואין גומרין הלל כל ז' משום בנפול אויבך אל תשמח.

The Gra on Mishlei 11:10 explains the passuk of

בְּט֣וּב צַ֭דִּיקִים תַּעֲלֹ֣ץ קִרְיָ֑ה וּבַאֲבֹ֖ד רְשָׁעִ֣ים רִנָּֽה׃

That רִנָּֽה (which refers to hallel) only comes after there was first a public display of redemption to the Jews and then punishment for the enemies. That’s why Mordechai had to first be taken on the horse before Haman was hung, and why the Shira was only after kriyas yam suf and the drowning of the Egyptians. (The makkos took place before a redemption or honor of the Jews so it wasn’t the complete רִנָּֽה)

The Tzlach Berachos 10A at the end of a long piece, seems to say that hallel is only said at the final destruction of the wicked not in the middle. The Egyptians final destruction was by the yam suf not the makkos

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The Yerushalmi says

כְּשֶׁהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא עוֹשֶׂה לָכֶם נִיסִּים יְהוּא אוֹמְרִין שִׁירָה. הְתִיבוֹן. הֲרֵי גְאולַּת מִצְרַיִם. שַׁנְייָא הִיא. שֶׁהִיא תְחִילַּת גְּאוּלָּתָן.

The Karban Haeidah explains

ומשני שנייא היא. שאני התם שהיא היתה תחילת גאולתן ולא היתה גמר הגאולה עד עברם הים:

The Yerushalmi says that when Hashem does a miracle, they should say song. The Yerushalmi asks what about the exodus from mitzrayim, and answers that was only the beginning of the redemption. The karban haeidah explains that they only song after the yam suf that then the redemption was complete. This seems to say that all the plagues did not receive song due to the continued exile.

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