Holy Mothers (and One Unholy Grandmother) –


Miriam the Prophetess

Numbers 26:59; Exodus 2:1-10, Miriam tends her baby brother.
Exodus 15, Miriam leads the chorus.
Numbers 12, Sibling rivalry; Numbers 20:1, Death of Miriam.
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Numbers 26:59; Exodus 2:1-10, Miriam tends her baby brother.

So far we have seen that Sarah, Rebecca, Leah, and Rachel were founders of the nation of Israel.  Sarah was a co-recipient of the promise, Rebecca ensured that the Covenant was inherited by the appropriate son, and Leah and Rachel built the house of Israel.  Now we will see that women have also filled the role of prophet.  The rabbis officially recognize seven women as prophetesses:  Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail (I Sam. 25:28-31), Huldah (II Kings 22:14, 20), and Esther. 
Miriam was the sister of Moses and an important figure of the Exodus.  Compared with the vast majority of people named in the Bible, we know quite a bit about her childhood -little as it is. 
By the way, Miriam's mother Jochebed is the aunt of her father Amram.  This is not on the chart, so I just thought I'd throw it in.
Exodus 15, Miriam leads the chorus.

My brother-in-law was a jazz pianist.  About 20 musicians played in various combos at the celebration of his life.  Eventually they played "When the Saints Go Marching In."  A couple of women got up and started dancing around the room in a line, then a few other women joined.  Then my sister-in-law joined.  They got napkins and waved them in time to the music.  Then men joined.  Soon about 50 or 60 people were dancing around the room in a long line, waving napkins over their heads and celebrating.  It was great!
After the LORD's victory over the Egyptian army at the Red Sea, Moses got up to sing a song.  It was roughly the Hebrew version of "When the Saints Go Marching In," but with more complicated lyrics.  Pretty soon Miriam got up to lead the dance, and all the women joined her, dancing in a line and waving timbrels over their heads and celebrating.  It was great!
Numbers 12, Sibling rivalry; Numbers 20:1, Death of Miriam.

Only two people in the Bible are called meek:  Moses and Jesus.  Moses is a mighty figure, but his brother Aaron and sister Miriam knew him when he was a kid, so they didn't have proper respect.  God punished them for their treatment of Moses by not allowing them to enter the tent, by leaving before they have a chance to answer his question, and by giving Miriam leprosy. 

It isn't clear why Miriam alone got leprosy.  Wesley suggests that it was either because "she was chief in the transgression or because God would not have his worship interrupted or dishonoured, which it must have been if Aaron had been leprous."  (A leper couldn't serve as a priest.)  Even sins that we would consider to be "minor" are major in the eyes of God, and it doesn't matter who you are, your sins will be punished.  Miriam was put outside the camp for a week, but she wasn't put outside the community, which was a more severe punishment that was roughly equivalent to a death sentence.  The Israelites waited for her before moving on, and it was quite some time later that she died.

Other Mothers
Rachel and Leah
The Four Most Important Women Who Never Lived
Women Who Expected Miracles
Mary and Elizabeth
UMW in Bible Times

Copyright 2008, 2011 by Regina L. Hunter.  All rights reserved.

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