Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Miriam


A Devotional by Margot Cioccio


I was trying to be a day ahead on these post during the A-Z challenge. At this point I am going to be happy to get this posted while it is still today. I'm behind on the digital paintings as well. I do like this painting that I pinned from Pintrest of our bible character Miriam. She is the sister of Moses and Aaron. You find her story in Exodus 2:4-10, Exodus 15:20, 1 Chronicles 6:3 and Numbers 20:1

Mirriam is probably about 10 when we first meet her. She and her family are Hebrews who live in Egypt and are currently slaves to the Pharaoh. Her mom has just had a baby boy, which should be cause for celebration. There is just one itty bitty problem. The Pharaoh in an effort to control the population of the Hebrews has sent out an edict that all males born to the Hebrews are to be killed.

Exodus 1: 22 So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, “Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive.”

Exodus 2:2 And a man of the house of Levi went and took as wife a daughter of Levi. 2 So the woman conceived and bore a son. And when she saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months. 3 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. 4 And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him.

We first meet Miriam when she is a little girl. Her family hatches a plan to save the baby by building a boat basket and set the to drift in the river, at about the time the Pharaoh's daughter was due to bathe. Miriam is watching from the bushes to see what happens to her little brother. The Pharaoh's daughter does notice the baby and sends one of her maids out to fetch it. He's a pretty child so she decides to keep it. Miriam pipes up from the bushes "Hey do you want me to get a wet nurse for the baby" She of course runs and gets her own mother. The Phaoah's daughter pays the woman to nurse her own baby. Eventually he little child toddles off to live at the palace and to become the son of Pharaoh's daughter. I gotta think Miram was a spunky little child to speak to the princess and suggest that she cold get a wet nurse for the baby.

We see that kind of spunk and fire in her in other places as well. Exodus 15:20
Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing.

Many years later Moses has gone back to Egypt to deliver the people from slavery. His brother comes to meet him along the way. Aaron does the talking and Moses does the miracles. In the end after the death of all the first born the people are released. Even then the Pharaoh changes his mind and goes in hot pursuit. The people of Israel are trapped at the edge of the Red Sea. They can't go back because they can see the dust of the Pharaoh approaching army.

There are times in our life when we are stuck. We can't go forward and we can't go back. Those seem to be the times when God asks us if we trust him? Will we take that step of faith? Will we put our staff into the Red Sea before us and watch as the waters that blocked our path recede. The Israelites walk across on dry ground. They get to the other side and Miriam, who is called not only Aaron's and Moses' sister is called a prophet. She take a timbrel and leads the women in a dance of victory. Not only that she bursts out in a long prophetic kind of song.

Her parents were Amram and Jochebed. Amram married his father's sister Jochebed. So much like Abraham and Sarah, they would have had the same father but different mothers. According to Alice Linsley of Just Genesis. "Abraham and Moses are both of the ruler-priest lines. These lines exclusively intermarried, so we should not be surprised that a comparison of their kinship patterns reveals that Abraham and Moses were both Horites." The Horites were very concerned with preserving their blood lines. Listen to Alice Linley's reason "Why would preserving a kinship pattern wherein priests marry daughters of priests matter? It would matter if you believed that God had made a promise that a Son would be born of Woman who would crush the serpent's head and restore Paradise. That is why it is so significant that the kinship pattern of Abraham's people never changed. The Promised Son was to be born in Bethlehem, which was a Horite settlement. Because the kinship pattern didn't change, the genealogical material in Genesis drives us from the Garden of Eden, to Bethlehem, to the empty Tomb. The kinship concerns of the Horites were based on their expectation of the Promised Son of God."

There is one tarnish in her other wise spotless record. It seems there is a point where she and brother Aaron take issue with Moses's Cushite wife. Maybe the big deal is that he took a wife that helped some how secure his claim to rule that should have gone to his older brother Aaron. So the three are arguing about this issue and God calls them out of the tent. (Numbers 12)

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has theLord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward,he said, “Listen to my words:
“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”
The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease,11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.

Kinship patterns shed some light on a later story where Aaron and Miraim are giving Moses a hard time about his Cushite wife in Numbers 12. There was a challenge to Moses' right to rule and it had to do with his wife. Perhaps he had overstepped and strengthened his claim as leader by marrying a woman that his older brother may have married. Did this marriage some how give legitimacy to his claim to lead? Aaron is the elder brother. Some want to say this was a race issue and the the Cushite wife was a black woman. I think it had more to do with the family tradition of who a leader married. It looks more like Moses followed the two wife pattern with Ziporah who was perhaps a cousin from Midian from Abraham and Ketura's children. Did this Cushite wife some how not fit the marriage kinship patterns and that was the issue? There are bits of the puzzel that I don't have totally figured out.
Numbers 12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has theLord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.8 With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”



Why is only Miriam leprous? Even Aaron admits that this sin was both of theirs. As the high priest it would have made him unclean and unable to preform his duties as priest. Also it is interesting to note that while Miriam was a prophet and Aaron a priest and they also heard from God, that they did not speak face to face with God as Moses did. It is a good reminder to us all to be careful not to covet the ministry of another. God called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt. He called Miriam to watch over her baby brother in the river and to be a support and help to him as he led the people to freedom.

Moses does forgive her and pray for her healing but she is sentenced to live out side of the camp for 7 days. Towards the end of the 40 years in the desert Miriam dies at Kadesh. (Numbers 20:1)

She is is one who speaks up as a child. She leads the women to dance after the red sea crossing. She gets jealous and covets her brothers power and is struck with a skin disease. For the most part she is a support to Moses. Some say that she was perhaps the wife of Hur who holds up Moses arms in battle.

We don't hear much about her private life. We see her mostly as a Godly woman leader who supports the main leader, her brother Moses.

God calls us to serve in different parts of his body and in differing capacities with varied gifts supplied by the Holy Spirit. We need to be careful to not speak against the work of another believer. Moses was commended for his humility and Miriam is put to shame for a brief time for her Jealousy and for speaking against the anointed leader. We see that as soon as she and Aaron realize their sin that they are quick to repent. She still suffers the consequence of her sin out side the camp for seven days.


Prayer: I lift up those directly affected by the Boston bombings. I pray for healing and comfort. I pray that somehow what the enemy meant for distraction will turn hearts to see your mercy and kindness in this hour. That although we at times face horrendous tragedies at the hands of crazed and angry people, we also see in times such as these that families and communities stand together and as a nation we fall to our knees and remember how much we need you Lord.  I remember your words that say "if my people who are called by my name, would humble themselves and pray... that you Lord would heal our land."
Lord today we need your healing we come before you and Lord we humbly pray.














3 comments:

  1. ive never really understood the relationships of the siblings are they are adults but i love that little miriam spoke up when baby moses was found! i mean what guts she had!

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