Volume XIII Issue II Women of the Bible – Miriam
Meaning: Obstinacy (Stubbornness)
Her Character: Miriam was a quick thinker, courageous, and she handled herself well under pressure.
Her Sorrow: Miriam was jealous of the authority of Moses and this jealousy caused her to be openly critical of his leadership. She was stricken with leprosy, but she was healed.
Her Triumph: Alongside Moses and Aaron, Miriam led God’s people out of Egypt. Upon the defeat of pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea, Miriam led the women of Israel in giving praises to God.
Key Scriptures: Exodus 2, 15; Numbers 2
Miriam was the sister of Moses and Aaron. She was a prophetess of Israel, and she was a leader during the Exodus of the Israelites and during their 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Miriam displayed her courage and intelligence at an early age. When we first encounter Miriam, she is a young girl. One account puts her at seven, and another account puts her at 12. She was watching her younger brother, Moses, float along the Nile. After he was discovered by pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam’s quick thinking and boldness enabled their mom to be his nursemaid.
From her life story, we can find two great life lessons. In her, we see an example of a woman who is a leader and a woman who recognized God for the victories. In her, we also see the frailty of our human emotions in her jealousy over the leadership role her younger brother, Moses, had among the Children of Israel.
In the first example, we see Miriam lead the women in song and dance in honor of God’s victory over the Egyptian army. Her celebration over this victory truly falls in line with the theme of this quarter’s newsletter.
Then there is the second example. As an older sister, it was probably hard for Miriam to see her younger brother be more successful than her, at least more successful in her own eyes. It was finally Moses’ choice of wives that gave her the opportunity to be openly critical of him. Whether it was her seeing her own role as the leading lady in his life and their community downsized or true concern, we don’t know. We do know that she murmured against Moses to Aaron over Moses’ choice of wives.
Miriam and Aaron were both jealous about Moses’ leadership role. Miriam pointed out that Moses was not the only sibling to be used by God. God reprimanded both Miriam and Aaron for their insubordination. As mentioned in the introduction, Miriam was stricken with leprosy, but she was cured after Moses intervened. Miriam was led from the camp and quarantined for seven days. She was not mentioned again until after her death. Like the other older leaders, she did not live to see the Promised Land.
From this story, we can see how jealousy and criticism can cloud our motives. There is a fine line between criticism to be constructive and criticism out of envy and jealousy. There is a danger in trying to raise ourselves up by taking someone else down. Before we point out anyone, we must first deal with the beam in our own eye. Each of has a unique place in the body of Christ. Being jealous or envious of another’s talent is a disservice to what we have to offer. Our role in the body of Christ is just as important as the next person’s role.
To leave on a positive role, let us focus on Miriam as a woman who celebrated her God. Let us focus on her as a courageous, intelligent woman who was a leader among her people. This is a role we all have.