11. Miriam, Quite A Character


By Nora Stone

‘Oh, Brother’

‘I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.’ Micah 6:4

Questions for discussion

1. Do you have a brother or sister? Are you the oldest child, a middle child, or the baby of your family?

2. What do you appreciate about your siblings? Have you ever been jealous of one of them? Why?

‘Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. ‘This is one of the Hebrew babies,’ she said. Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?’ ‘Yes, go,’ she answered. So, the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.’ So, the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, ‘I drew him out of the water.’ Exodus 2:1-10

a. What happened in chapter 1 of Exodus that caused the mother of Moses to hide him after his birth?

Why did she decide she couldn’t hide him anymore?

b. What do you think about her plan for protecting the well-being of her child?

Was she hoping that Pharaoh’s daughter would take him in all along?

c. The NIV Study Bible has a note that says,

‘When we first meet Miriam she is involved in one of history’s most unusual babysitting jobs.’

Have you ever had an unusual baby-sitting experience?

d. What do you learn about her in this story?

What do you think were her biggest concerns about this responsibility?

e. Do you think Miriam’s offer was something that she came up with on the spot or was she just carrying out her mom’s wishes?

Why was her role important either way?

‘When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: ‘Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.’ Exodus 15:19-21

a. We next see Miriam after the Hebrew people cross the Red Sea and are rescued.

b. What more do you learn about her in this reading?

Why do you think all the women followed her?

c. What was her short song about?

‘Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. ‘Has the LORD 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. When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, and he said to Moses, ‘Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.’ So, Moses cried out to the LORD, ‘Please, God, heal her!’ The LORD replied to Moses, ‘If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.’ So, Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.’ Numbers 12:1-15

a. Why did Miriam and her other brother start to criticize Moses?

What was the big deal about having a Cushite wife?

Why do you think Miriam and Aaron were jealous of Moses?

b. Why do you think only Miriam was given a disease from the Lord? Is that fair?

c. What do you think she thought about for seven days outside the camp?

‘In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried.’ Numbers 20:1

d. Numbers 20:1 says that Miriam died before the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land.

e. What are some lessons we learn from her life that still apply to our lives today?



"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness."

Galatians 5:22