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The overall lesson of Numbers 12 is not to lift yourself up above or at the expense of others. We are told in Numbers 12:3 that Moses was “…very humble, more than any man…”
Moses was not a brave, audacious man. He had little confidence in himself, either when he killed the Egyptian or when God called him at the burning bush. He never considered himself better than anyone else. Aaron and Miriam, on the other hand, were not so humble.
“Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had married a Cushite woman)….” (Numbers 12:1 NASB)
Moses’ Cushite’s wife was a symptom of a deeper grievance that Aaron and Miriam had against Moses. On the surface it seems that Miriam and Aaron were racists but as you read the chapter you see that God doesn’t address their criticism of Moses’ wife because she was just a symptom. God saw a deeper problem that needed to be addressed.
The scriptures refer to Miriam in Ex. 15:20 as “Miriam the prophetess” obedient to her mother when she was a young girl. Miriam’s name in Hebrew — מִרְיָם Miryam (H4813) — means “rebellious,” from מְרִי m’riy (H4805, bitterness) and מָרָה marah (H4784, to make bitter).
“Indeed, I brought you up from the land of Egypt And ransomed you from the house of slavery, And I sent before you Moses, Aaron and Miriam.”(Micah 6:4 NASB)
The only time the Scriptures record a bad report about Miriam is in Numbers 12.
“and they (Miriam and Aaron) said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?” And the LORD heard it” (Numbers 12:2 NASB)
As far as we can tell, Moses never heard Aaron and Miriam’s complaints about his new Cushite wife or their grumbling about his status in comparison to their own, but God heard it and He did not wait to render correction.
“Suddenly the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam, ‘You three come out to the tent of meeting.’ So the three of them came out.” (Numbers 12:4 NASB)
No one else was called to this meeting, except Moses, Aaron and Miriam. There was something God wanted Moses to hear. This will not be the last time Moses and Aaron faced an insurrection against their leadership.
What we have here is not your typical sibling rivalry. Moses was the youngest brother, who was taken from his family after he was weaned around two years old. There was a separation between Moses, Aaron and Miriam. Moses did not have the same type of sibling connection with Aaron and Miriam that Aaron and Miriam had with one another.
Moses has no idea why God is calling this meeting. Why this meeting was called and why it was recorded is for our admonition.
“He said, ‘Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; With him I speak mouth to mouth, Even openly, and not in dark sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?'” (Numbers 12:6–8 NASB)
Aaron and Miriam was not the first to receive dreams and visions. Abraham, Jacob and Joseph also received dreams and visions. But Moses didn’t receive revelations from God in dreams but “mouth to mouth, openly.” The word “dark sayings” is the Hebrew word chidah (Strongs H2420) which literally means riddles. It’s refered to in Brown, Dryer Briggs as “riddle, enigmatic, perplexing saying or question.”
God also said that He revealed His form to Moses. When did that happen? The second time Moses went up to Mt. Sinai to receive the commandments.
“If then I have grace in your eyes, let me see your ways, so that I may have knowledge of you and be certain of your grace; and my prayer is that you will keep in mind that this nation is your people.” (Exodus 33:13 BBE)
“And the Lord went past before his eyes, saying, The Lord, the Lord, a God full of pity and grace, slow to wrath and great in mercy and faith; Having mercy on thousands, overlooking evil and wrongdoing and sin; he will not let wrongdoers go free, but will send punishment on children for the sins of their fathers, and on their children’s children to the third and fourth generation. Then Moses quickly went down on his face in worship.” (Exodus 34:6–8 BBE)
God tells them that He speaks to Moses directly but he speaks to Aaron and Miriam in riddles and parables.
Moses is the picture of God and Aaron is a picture of the Son of God. Who is Miriam a picture of? She is a picture of all the tribes of Israel. She is a picture of the House of Israel. Moses was faithful to God’s house.
“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house ― whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.” (Hebrews 3:1–6 NASB)
God built the house, not Moses. God owns the house, not Moses.
“But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses, ‘Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned.'” (Numbers 12:10–11 NASB)
Aaron’s heart was towards his sister and the first thing he did when he saw Miriam’s leprosy, was to repent. Aaron addressed Moses as “Adonai” and understood that even though Miriam was the one physically punished, he was punished too.
Moses cried out in Miriam’s behalf too. Moses showed how faithful he was to God’s house by praying for Miriam’s healing and restoration.
“Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, “O God, heal her, I pray!”” (Numbers 12:13 NASB)
How did God respond? God didn’t kill her. He made it simple for Moses to understand. Miriam should be ashamed of what she has said.
“But the LORD said to Moses, ‘If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.’ So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again.” (Numbers 12:14–15 NASB)
This punishment affected everyone in the camp. They could not move until Miriam was healed. I think it is interesting that Yeshua’s mother was named Miriam, which I don’t believe is a coincidence. Yeshua was born into a nation of rebellious and stiff necked people.
This isn’t the first time Aaron made a big mistake for which he was not punished. Aaron was also complicit in the incident with the golden calf yet Aaron received no known punishment for that. Aaron did not hesitate when the plague came to run head-long into the people with the incense to stop the plague.
How many times has Yeshua run into your life to save you from death? Many I’m sure.
You will never read anything more bad said about Miriam from this point of the Bible forward.
Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.