ותען להם מרים שירו לה׳ כי גאה גאה סוס ורכבו רמה בים .
And Miriam sang (va-ta’an) unto them: Sing ye to the Lord, for He is highly exalted: The horse and his rider hath He thrown into the sea. (JPS) Shmoth 15.21
Targum pseudo-Yonasan render va-ta’an as “ve-zamras, and she sang.”
The Mekhilta implies that Miriam sang this: “Just like Moshe said a song for the men, Miriam said a song for the women.” While we could infer that they only “said a song” and did not actually sing it, the Mekhilta seems to raise Miriam’s va-ta’an to the level of Moshe’s yashir rather than vice versa. However, Miriam sang for the women and (perhaps while) Moshe sang for the men. R. Aryeh Kaplan in a footnote to The Living Torah quotes Philo in The Life of Moses as saying that the women sang at the same time as the men. Similar to the Mekhilta, the Yalkut Shimoni (Hos. 2 no. 518) says that va-ta’an refers to actual singing, implying that Miriam sang the song.
וַתַּעַן לָהֶם, מִרְיָם va-ta’an – like וַתִּקַּח מִרְיָם הַנְּבִיאָה and like וַתַּעֲמֹדְנָה And they stood 27.2 the “ta” of va-ta’an is a pre-fix to the word “an” (sing) as in aynu lah עֱנוּ
- Then Israel sang this song: Spring up, O well—sing to it— אָ֚ז יָשִׁ֣יר יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֶת־הַשִּׁירָ֖ה הַזֹּ֑את עֲלִ֥י בְאֵ֖ר עֱנוּ ־לָֽהּ׃
The question arises: to whom did she sing” – to the men or to the women or to both?
The Torah calls her a prophetees and in continuing from 15.20 the text seems to answer us with the plain sense apparent meaning of the verse: If (since) Moshe sang and the men followed his lead, then it was the women’s turn to sing to HaShem. And Miriam sang unto them:
That is, Miriam, (like Moshe), in an exalted state of prophesy led the women in song while at the same time Moshe led the men in song; they [the men and the women] were repeating what each shliach sang for the Torah says all the Children of Israel sang this song:
and all the women went out after her – imitating her with song, timbrels and dances.