Miriam the Prophetess

Apr 18, 2013, 5:51 PM |


I've decided that I'm going to go through a series and write on the prophetesses mentioned in the Bible. I know I will learn a lot as I study to write about them and hopefully we can all apply something that we learn from the good or bad examples of the prophetesses mentioned in the Bible. This week, we'll be looking at the life of Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Moses and Aaron. To begin with, we will look at her lineage.


Miriam came from the family line of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and was the daughter of Levi, Jacob's third son.

And Kohath begot Amram.The name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi(brother of Joseph) in Egypt; and to Amram she bore Aaron and Moses and their sister Miriam. Numbers 26:58b-59

Some scholars believe that the name Levi means priest.

While only Aaron and his descendants were given the priesthood, the whole tribe of Levi had a special calling from God to help Aaron and the priests. The Levites were the support people for the ministry of the priests. They were not allowed to do what the priests did, but were important because of their behind-the-scenes service. In the same way, the New Testament says we are all different “parts” of the body, each with particular gifts and callings.”


Here is the next recorded event involving Miriam. Based on this portion, we see that Miriam is several years older than Moses.

And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months (because Pharaoh had commanded all boy babies to be killed to prevent Israel from growing and overpowering the Egyptians). But when she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river’s bank.And his sister(Miriam) stood afar off, to know what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh's daughter came down to the river with her maids. When she saw the ark, she called to her maids to get it for her. When she opened it and saw that it was a Hebrew baby boy, she loved him and called him Moses, claiming him as her own. Then his sister(Miriam) came and said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” So, she ran and got her mother and Pharaoh's daughter gave her the baby to take care of for her until he was of age to live in the palace. Exodus 2:1-9 adapted for easier understanding


The next event recorded of Miriam happened after God worked through Moses to divide the Red Sea so the Israelites could pass through after which the pathway closed up and the Egyptians drowned. Thus, God saved the children of Israel from the Egyptians.

For the horses of Pharaoh went with his chariots and his horsemen into the sea, and the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them. But the children of Israel went on dry land in the midst of the sea. Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: “Sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously! The horse and its rider He has thrown into the sea!” Exodus 15:19-20


Another big event in Miriam's life was when...Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Has the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Has He not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them and he departed. And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. Numbers 12:1-3,5,9-10


The plague of the leprosy, it is likely, appeared in her face, so that it appeared to all that saw her that she was struck with it, with the worst of it, she was leprous as snow.Her foul tongue is justly punished with a foul face, and her folly in pretending to be a rival with Moses is made manifest to all men, for every one sees his face to be glorious, and hers to be leprous. While Moses needs a veil to hide his glory, Miriam needs one to hide her shame.


It should seem that this plague upon Miriam was designed for an exposition of the law concerning the leprosy in Leviticus 13. Miriam was struck with leprosy, but not Aaron, because she was first in the transgression and God put a difference between those that mis-lead and those that are mis-led. Aaron’s office, though it did not save him from God’s displeasure, yet it helped to secure him from this token of his displeasure, which would not only have suspended him for the present from officiating sacrifices when (there being no priests but himself and his two sons) he couldn't really be spared, but it would have rendered him and his office defiled and would have been a lasting blot upon his family. This judgment upon Miriam can be a good reminder as a warning to take heed of putting any sin upon our Lord Jesus. If she was thus chastised for speaking against Moses, what will become of those that sin against Christ?” Matthew Henry


Numbers 20:1 says, “Then the children of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the Wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriamdied there and was buried there.”

The context of this verse makes it look out of place, but God has it there for a purpose. Just after Miriam's death, the Israelites complained and wished they were back in Egypt (again) and when Moses and Aaron go to the tabernacle to seek God, He reveals Himself to them. God tells Moses to go to a certain rock and gather the people around and speak to the rock; water would then gush forth to give the people drink. Moses struck the rock with his rod instead of speaking to it and because of that sin, God didn't allow Moses to enter the promised land. I wonder if the grief of Miriam's death had a part in causing Moses' disobedience. Did his trust in God's sovereignty over everything weaken because of it? I wonder.


Let us not lose faith when events like the Boston marathon bombing and the fertilizer plant explosion happen and lives and property are lost. Instead, let it draw you closer to Him through prayer and supplication, praying for His mercy and revival. May God go with you.


Your sister in Christ,