Yesterday’s post we discussed the instrumental and faithful act of Jochebed, the mother of Moses. In the Exodus account of Moses being hidden in the basket and placed on the river bank, we are introduced to his older sister, Miriam. ‘And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.” Exodus 2:4
When you think about the position that Miriam placed herself in, it reflects a heart similar to her mother, Jochebed. Whether she was instructed by her mother or made the decision herself, her bravery became apparent when she stood watch over her baby brother while he floated in the river. She stood there waiting to see what would happen to him. I have to think she had thoughts of fear: fear of who would find her brother, fear of being found herself, or the threat of death possibly loomed in her thoughts. But she didn’t let any fear control her actions. No instead she showed great courage and confidence. She didn’t let fear stop her when she noticed Pharaoh’s daughter. ‘Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. Exodus 2:7-9
Years later, we read more about Miriam. Apparently, her role among the Israelites held great importance. She was described as a prophetess, ‘Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”’Exodus 15:20-21. In Micah, her name appeared with her brothers Moses and Aaron ‘For I brought you up from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.’ Micah 6:4.
While Miriam exhibited faith in the Lord throughout her life, the book of Numbers reveals a time in Miriam’s life when she was not pleasing in the sight of God and received punishment from Him.
‘Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out. And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed.
When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” And Moses cried to the Lord, “O God, please heal her—please.” But the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.” So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran.’ Numbers 12:1-16
The details of Miriam’s life showed her as a women of faith during most of her life, but she also experienced the correction of the Lord and became an example of caution to the Levitical priests. ‘Take care, in a case of leprous disease, to be very careful to do according to all that the Levitical priests shall direct you. As I commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.’ Deuteronomy 24:8-9.
While the only other information we read about Miriam is her death and burial record in Numbers 20:1, it’s noted she had remained with the Israelite people.
Although Miriam became a cautionary example to the Israelites, we can learn lessons from all that happened in her life. We can strive for the same bravery and courage she exhibited as a child when watching over her brother. We can seek to be more like the Miriam singing to the Lord by remembering to praise Him for all He has done in our lives. Even during Miriam’s dark time, we can learn the lesson to be mindful that our actions continue to be pleasing to God and keep fighting the good fight.
‘Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.’ 1 Corinthians 10:11-12
Until next time
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