Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses

Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle up there.” The man said he would if he had some … More


Moses, Aaron, and Miriam were a team sent by God to help the nation of Israel (Micah 6:4).  Everybody in Israel knew that these three team mates were God’s chosen servants, but that Moses was the leader. Miriam, sister of Moses, was a leader as prophetess and Aaron, Moses’ brother, as high priest, was a spiritual leader of the entire nation. Now, in envy Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses (v. 1). All evidence points to the fact that Miriam was the leader in this family rebellion. She didn’t begin her attack by accusing Moses of usurping authority but suggested that he had committed a questionable act by marrying a Cushite woman (v. 1), possibly from Egypt.

It was probably after the death of his first wife Zipporah that Moses had married this Cushite woman. It is important to know that in itself this marriage was not wrong, in light of God’s command which only forbade the Israelites to marry the daughters of Canaan (Ex. 34:11-16). When Miriam got around to her real complaint, it was that Moses was the only spokesperson for God (v. 2). Weak willed Aaron gave in to the evil suggestion of his sister. Moses didn’t try to vindicate himself but left his defense to the Lord, which He did by inflicting leprosy on Miriam. When Aaron saw what had happened to her, he said to Moses, “Sir, please don’t punish us for doing such a foolish thing. Don’t let Miriam’s flesh rot away like a child born dead” (vv. 11-12)! Moses prayed, “LORD God, please heal her” (v. 13). But the LORD replied, “ Miriam will be disgraced for seven days (v. 14).


It is a serious thing to be a spiritual leader, and the greater the honor the greater the responsibility. It is important how I respond to those over me in leadership because they watch for my soul and must give an account (Heb. 13:17).

Numbers 12:1-16 (English Standard Version)

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, "Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?" And the LORD heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting." And the three of them came out. And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, "Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed. When the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, like snow. And Aaron turned toward Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. And Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned. Let her not be as one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes out of his mother's womb." And Moses cried to the LORD, "O God, please heal her--please." But the LORD said to Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again." So Miriam was shut outside the camp seven days, and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again. After that the people set out from Hazeroth, and camped in the wilderness of Paran.

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