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Reference: Miriam


The sister of Moses and Aaron, probably the one who watched over Moses in the ark of bulrushes, Ex 2:4-5 Nu 26.59; Mic 6.4. As a prophetess, she led the women of Israel in their song of worship and thanksgiving to God on the drowning of the Egyptians, Ex 15:20-21. Her jealous murmurs against Moses and his Cushite wife were punished by a temporary leprosy, Nu 12; De 24:9; but she was forgiven and restored, and near the close of the wandering of Israel, died at Kadwshbarnea, Nu 20:1.

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their rebellion. (1.) The sister of Moses and Aaron (Ex 2:4-10; 1Ch 6:3). Her name is prominent in the history of the Exodus. She is called "the prophetess" (Ex 15:20). She took the lead in the song of triumph after the passage of the Red Sea. She died at Kadesh during the second encampment at that place, toward the close of the wanderings in the wilderness, and was buried there (Nu 20:1). (See Aaron; Moses.)

(2.) 1Ch 4:17, one of the descendants of Judah.

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The Old Testament Hebrew equates to Mary in New Testament and Mariamne, Herod's wife and victim.

1. 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," halmah, implying one of marriageable age. Aaron being three years older than Moses was nine years younger than her. She watched her infant brother in the ark on the Nile, and suggested to Pharaoh's daughter the mother as a nurse. In Mic 6:4 God mentions among benefits conferred on Israel, "I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam," Miriam as the leader of and pattern to Israel's women. She as "the prophetess, the sister of Aaron," with timbrel in hand, led the female choir who, with timbrels (round tambourines, an Egyptian word) and dances following her, sang the song of triumph at the Red Sea; they responsively took up the first strophe of the men's song (Ex 15:1-21; so Jg 11:34; 1Sa 18:6).

Her prophetic gift was perverted into a ground of jealousy of Moses, whose foreign Ethiopian wife, just espoused, to Miriam's disappointment had supplanted her from the influence which she had with Moses after Zipporah's death. "Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married (Numbers 12) ... Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? Hath He not spoken also by us?" But the phrase "sister of Aaron" (a phrase not likely to have been applied to Miriam by a later writer than Moses) marks her as ranking, not with Moses but with Aaron, and like him subordinate to Moses, the mediator of the Old Testament, and standing to Aaron "instead of God" (Ex 4:16). God's reply implies that, though receiving prophetical revelations, she did not receive them "mouth to mouth apparently" and immediately as Moses, who "beheld the similitude of the Lord," whereas she and others saw only in a "vision" or "dream."

In wrath God withdrew the cloud from off the tabernacle, and behold the proud prophetess had the most humiliating of diseases, leprosy white as snow. Miriam was the instigator, therefore on her alone fell the punishment. Aaron was influenced to evil by his sister, as before by the people (Exodus 32), with characteristic pliability. Leprosy was the penalty of sin against the theocracy, as in Uzziah's and Gehazi's case. Miriam became in a state of living death. Aaron interceded with Moses piteously for her: "let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb." So Moses interceded with God: "heal her now, O God, I beseech Thee."

The Lord hearkened, but excluded her from the camp seven days; and such was her popularity, "the people journeyed not (from Hazeroth) until Miriam was brought in again." Her death was at Kadesh Barnea, the first month of the 40th year (Nu 20:1). Her sepulchre was shown in Eusebius' (Onom. in Jerome) time at Petra; but Josephus Ant. 4:4, section 6; 3:2, section 4, 6 section 1) places it on Mount Zin, and makes her wife of Hur and grandmother of the architect Bezaleel. Feminine jealousy and ambition were the drawbacks to her otherwise commanding character.

2. 1Ch 4:17. Berheau by transposition reads, "and these are the sons of Bithiah the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered had taken" immediately after "and Jalon, ... and she (Bithiah) conceived and bore) Miriam," etc. Miriam is here a man.

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1. The sister of Moses and Aaron, probably older than either. It was she who watched Moses in the ark of bulrushes (Ex 2:4 ff.). She is called 'the prophetess,' and led the women in the song of victory at the Red Sea (Ex 15:20 f.). In the course of the wilderness wanderings she combined with Aaron against Moses, and was punished by leprosy, which was healed in answer to the prayer of Moses (Nu 12:1-15). She died in Kadesh towards the end of the wilderness journey (Nu 20:1). Her story is referred to in De 24:8-9 in connexion with the ceremonial law of leprosy, and in Mic 6:4 she is spoken of along with Moses and Aaron as a leader of the people.

The name Miriam becomes in Greek Mariam and Mariamne, also Maria, our Mary and is probably of Egyptian derivation (mer Amon, 'beloved of Amon').

2. A man (or woman) of the family of Caleb (1Ch 4:17).

W. F. Boyd.

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1. Sister of Aaron and Moses: she is emphatically called 'Miriam the prophetess.' She was probably the sister who watched the ark in which her brother Moses was laid. In after years she headed the procession of women, when, with timbrels and dances, they answered the song of Moses, on their deliverance out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. With Aaron she took the lead in murmuring against Moses, on the plea that he had married an Ethiopian woman. Moses was very meek, but the Lord did not allow His servant, who was faithful in all God's house, and to whom He spake mouth to mouth, to be spoken against. God was angry with them and Miriam was smitten with leprosy, white as snow. Aaron humbled himself and confessed their sin, and Moses prayed for the restoration of Miriam. She was made to go outside the camp seven days. This rebellion was typical of Israel in the character of prophet and priest uniting against Christ as King. Miriam died at Kadesh and was buried there. Ex 15:20-21; Nu 12:1-15; 20:1; 26:59; De 24:9; Mic 6:4.

2. Son or daughter of one in the tribe of Judah. 1Ch 4:17.

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(rebellion), the sister of Moses, was the eldest of that sacred family; and she first appears, probably as a young girl, watching her infant brother's cradle in the Nile,

Ex 2:4

and suggesting her mother as a nurse. ver. 7. After the crossing of the Red Sea "Miriam the prophetess" is her acknowledged title. ch.

Ex 15:20

The prophetic power showed itself in her under the same form as that which it assumed in the days of Samuel and David, --poetry, accompanied with music and processions. ch.

Ex 15:1-19

She took the lead, with Aaron, in the complaint against Moses for his marriage with a Cushite,

Nu 12:1-2

and for this was attacked with leprosy. This stroke and its removal, which took place at Hazeroth, form the last public event of Miriam's life. ch.

Nu 12:1-15

She died toward the close of the wanderings at Kadesh, and was buried there. ch.

Nu 20:1

(B.C. about 1452.)

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MIRIAM, sister of Moses and Aaron, and daughter of Amram and Jochebed, was born about A.M. 2424. She might be ten or twelve years old when her brother Moses was exposed on the banks of the Nile, since Miriam was watching there, and offered herself to Pharaoh's daughter to fetch her a nurse. The princess accepting the offer, Miriam fetched her own mother, to whom the young Moses was given to nurse, Ex 2:4-5, &c. It is thought that Miriam married Hur, of the tribe of Judah; but it does not appear that she had any children by him, Ex 17:10-11. Miriam had the gift of prophecy, as she intimates, Nu 12:2: "Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us?" After the passage of the Red Sea, Miriam led the choirs and dances of the women, and sung with them the canticle, "Sing ye to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea:" while Moses led the choir of men, Ex 15:21. When Zipporah, the wife of Moses, arrived in the camp of Israel, Miriam and Aaron disputed with her, speaking against Moses on her account, Numbers 12. This conduct the Lord punished by visiting Miriam with a leprosy. Aaron interceded with Moses for her recovery, and besought the Lord, who ordered her to be shut out of the camp seven days. We are acquainted with no subsequent particulars of the life of Miriam. Her death happened in the first month of the fortieth year after the exodus, at the encampment of Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, Nu 20:1. The people mourned for her, and she was there buried.

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