A few hundred years passed since Jacob and his family
joined Joseph in Egypt.
The extended family of seventy individuals multiplied greatly (Exodus
Joseph and Jacob died and a new Pharaoh who knew not Joseph reigned
(Exodus 1:8). Out of fear that the Israelites would continue to
side with his enemies during battle, Pharaoh forced the Israelites into
God continued to bless the Israelites, and they continued to multiply.
Pharaoh commanded all male children be killed upon birth (Exodus 1:22).
Two begins with the life of Moses, the great lawgiver of the Old
Moses’ mother hid him for the first three months of
his life. Fearing she could no longer hide him, she placed him in a
sealed with tar and placed the basket among the reeds along the edge of
river. Though not named in Exodus Chapter Two, big sister Miriam kept
over the baby as he lay in the basket. When Pharaoh’s
daughter found the baby,
Miriam volunteered to get a Hebrew woman to nurse the child.
hired Moses’ mother to care for the child until she weaned
Dictionary states that Miriam was the “Sister of
Aaron and Moses, oldest
child of Amram and Jochebed. At least 12 or 13 at Moses’
birth, for she is
called (Ex 2:8) ‘the maid,’ ha`almah, implying one
of marriageable age.” Other
sources list her age between nine and fourteen. Miriam bore a mighty
responsibility as she watched nearby to see what would happen to her
brother, who later became the great lawgiver of the Old Testament. It
evident that she dutifully fulfilled this responsibility as she
stepped forward and volunteered to find a nurse when
Pharaoh’s daughter found
The next biblical reference to Miriam has her on the
banks of the Red Sea.
Years later, God
miraculously parted the Red Sea
Israelite nation to cross on dry land. As Pharaoh’s army
tried to follow, the
walls of water crashed upon them. Pharaoh’s mighty army
drowned in the Red Sea.
The once fearful Israelites then rejoiced in
their newfound freedom, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving to
led the men in the chorus of the song as Miriam led the women in the
Men and women blended their voices together in praise to God.
Verse 20 calls Miriam a prophetess. Nelson’s
Illustrated Bible Dictionary
defines a prophetess as “a female prophet.” A
prophet is “A person who spoke
for God and who communicated God’s message courageously to
People-the nation of Israel”
(Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
Primarily, prophetesses “possessed a poetical inspiration;
(especially sacred) poetry was always deemed of supernatural and divine
(McClintock and Strong Encyclopedia).
acknowledges that God spoke to Miriam, thus confirming she was a
Micah reminded the Israelites that Moses, Aaron and Miriam led the
out of Egypt
(Micah 6:4). These three biblical references prove that Miriam was one
chosen leaders for his people.
The previous biblical references to Miriam portray her
to be a godly servant. Unfortunately, like many of us today, Miriam had
faults as well as her good qualities. Numbers chapter 12 shows the
Although chapter 12 begins with Miriam and Aaron
complaining about Moses’ choice for a wife, the true meaning
complaint was jealousy and a desire for greater authority and power.
placement of Miriam’s name before Aaron’s, the use
of the feminine form of the
verb spake and the harsh punishment God inflicted upon Miriam indicate
was the instigator in the rebellion against Moses.
God called Moses, Aaron and Miriam to come out to the Tabernacle.
God then appeared in a pillar of cloud in the door of the Tabernacle.
called Aaron and Miriam to come closer. God explained to Aaron and
he chooses to whom and how he will speak to his servants. He speaks to
by dreams and visions, but to Moses he chose to speak directly, not
visions. God was angry with Miriam and Aaron for their rebellion
and his chosen leader, Moses. After rebuking Miriam and Aaron, the
departed from the tabernacle. As soon as the cloud departed
was evident. Miriam’s skin was white as snow with leprosy.
their sin and asked Moses to forgive them. Moses immediately begged God
Miriam. God accepted the repentance of Aaron and Miriam. However,
suffered the consequences of her actions. As with all cases of leprosy,
removed from the camp and isolated from other individuals. This
lasted for seven days.
Miriam’s rebellion against Moses was prior to the
Israelites first approach to the promised land. After 38 years of
the wilderness for their unbelief, the Bible records the death of
came the children of Israel,
even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin
in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died
was buried there” (Numbers 20:1). The fact that the Bible
death and place of burial attributes to the important place Miriam held
history of the Israelite nation.
Miriam was Responsible
At a young age (between the ages of nine and fourteen),
Miriam’s mother asked her to watch over her baby brother. She
accepted her task and diligently fulfilled her responsibility.
thinking allowed Moses’ mother to raise him until he was
Christians need to be responsible. We need to
diligently complete our tasks whether at the work place (Romans 12:11),
home (Titus 2:5) or as part of the church (Titus 2:14; Ecclesiastes 9:10). Paul
instructed servants to obey their masters “…as
the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart”
(Ephesians 6:6). That
rule applies today as workers to bosses, as members to elders and as
to Christ. The elders need to know we are dependable, that we will do
are asked within the given timeframe. Furthermore, Jesus taught the
of accepting our responsibilities when he said, “I must work
the works of him
that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work
Just as Jochobed taught Miriam to be responsible, we need
to teach our children to be responsible. This teaching needs to begin
at a very
young age. Our children need to be held accountable for their misdeeds.
to teach them to follow through with their promises. We need to teach
the words from our mouths and by our actions. They need to see us being
Are you a Miriam? Are you responsible? Can your boss
count on you to complete your task even if he is not watching? Can the
depend on you to teach a class, prepare communion, clean the building,
do they need to have a back-up plan because you frequently fail to
Miriam was a Leader
Miriam was one of God’s chosen leaders as the
Israelites left Egypt
journeyed toward Canaan.
She used her ability
to lead the women in song after they crossed the Red Sea.
She was a prophetess to whom God spoke on occasion.
The church today needs leaders functioning within
their God-given roles. There is much work women can, and should do,
not usurp the authority of men. There is much work men can, and should
does not usurp the authority of the elders. God created each individual
different; thus, making each Christian unique with different abilities.
woman needs to evaluate her abilities, improve upon those abilities and
those abilities to further the cause of Christ.
Are you a Miriam? Are you using your God-given talents
to lead young children to Christ by teaching Bible Classes? Are you
God-given talents to lead other women to a stronger faith and service
Are you using your abilities to lead singing or prayers during
or Ladies’ Inspiration Days? Are you using your artistic
abilities to teach
through visual aids or bulletin boards? Are you using your homemaking
show hospitality to those in need or to visiting preachers and
The work and leadership opportunities for Christian
women are unending. I encourage each of you to be a Miriam. Use your
to serve God to the fullest.
Miriam was Jealous
Miriam was jealous and envious of the leadership and
power of Moses. Since Miriam and Aaron also had revelation from God,
assumed they should be equal in leadership as well. She failed to
chose Moses as the leader of the Israelite nation.
Jealousy and envy go hand in hand and are condemned in
the Old and New testaments (Psalm 37:1; Proverbs
5:21; 1 Peter 2:1,
etc.). James said, “But if ye have bitter
envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual,
where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil
Envy and jealously point to an “I” problem. When we
are consumed with the “I” syndrome, we want what we
think is best for us and
fail to consider others. This mentality is normal for infants, but as
matures, we should outgrow the “I” syndrome. Jesus
said to the father, “Not my
will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). We should put God
first, family second,
mankind third and ourselves last (1 Peter 5:5). Only when we learn to
thoughts and feelings of others first will we be able to overcome the
sin of envy
Are you a Miriam? Do you want what others have? Do you
have an “I” problem?
Miriam was Rebellious
Miriam’s jealousy of Moses’ authority allowed her
rebel against God. God chose Moses as the leader of his people, the
When Miriam spoke against Moses, she was speaking against God who gave
Frequently, rebellion and jealousy link together. When
one is jealous of the authority of an individual and feels that he or
do a better job, it becomes easy to question and criticize those in
God condemned Miriam for criticizing Moses, and he condemns us when we
criticize and rebel against those in authority (Proverbs 17:11; Hebrews 13:17).
Are you like Miriam? Are you rebellious of those in
authority? Do you criticize the elders who watch for your soul?
Miriam was Repentant
When God struck Miriam with leprosy, “Aaron said unto
Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein
done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned” (Numbers 12:11).
Although the Scriptures
do not record Miriam saying, “I have sinned” or
“Please forgive me,” we know
that she repented because God healed her.
Likewise, God will forgive us when we turn away from
sin and turn back to God. Jesus taught “I tell you, Nay: but,
except ye repent,
ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). Peter told the
Jews on the day of
Pentecost “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the
name of Jesus Christ
for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy
God will forgive those who repent. However, repentance
does not remove the consequences of our actions. Just as Miriam
leprosy for seven days, sometimes we must suffer because of our sins.
thief repents to God for stealing, he still faces the legal system of
and may be sentenced to jail time for his ungodly actions.
Are you a Miriam? Do you repent of your sins when
someone teaches you that an action is sinful? Or, do you become angry
teacher and accuse the individual of being unkind, unloving and a