Miriam has some sober lessons to teach us. She was a good example and she was a bad example; in fact, she was just like we are! We are simply not perfect every day of every month of every year!
The first we meet Miriam is in her role as a protective sister standing watch over baby Moses.
Nearly eighty years pass and God would deliver them with a mighty hand and destroy the nation that had enslaved their people for four hundred years.
Try to put yourself in Miriam’s place, as she sees the fearlessness of her brothers Moses, and Aaron as they resound God’s commands to Pharaoh! She sees one plague after another devastate and humiliate the Egyptians. These were her brothers, and God was using them to totally defeat Pharaoh!
During this six-week time, I believe Miriam rallied the Israelite women. She was thrust into a place of prominence because her brothers were who they were, but also because God had given her abilities that made her a leader of women.
Finally, the unforgettable night came when Israel left Egypt. God delivered them and destroyed the Egyptians through the Red Sea. The Israelites were free forever! It was a time for joy and singing.
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them.
“Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider, he has hurled into the sea.” Exodus 15:20-21
Try to imagine what it was like . . . After a few years, Moses chose a new wife. Maybe Miriam didn’t like another woman’s influence in her brother’s life. In any case, this became the platform Miriam and Aaron used to advance their own authority to equality with Moses. They began to talk about Moses.
They talked to each other first, and then to others.
We all know how it’s done. It started with what they didn’t like about their secondary position of leadership, and then it spread subtly . . . hints of dissatisfaction, questioning judgment, disappointment in leadership, self-promotion.
Most of us have done this, motivated by pride, jealousy, and envy, we tear down other people or we rebel against the leadership that God has placed over us. This can happen in the church, at home, in our families, or at work. It’s the most destructive thing that we can do!
With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. James 3:9-10
Authority is established by God.
Because of the condition of Miriam’s heart; God brought leprosy.
“The anger of the LORD burned against them, and he left them. When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam — leprous, like snow.” Numbers 12:9-10
This leader of women, the prophetess who wanted to be equal with the leader God had appointed, was put outside the camp alone for seven days (until God healed her). What do you think she thought of while out there? Maybe now she was content to be what God had called her to be—a leader of women, under Moses’ leadership.
She had thirty-eight more years to live under Moses’ leadership, and she never challenged it again. In fact, we never hear her mentioned again, until chapter 20, when she’s about 130 years old. They are on the border of the Promised Land for the second time and she dies. She was still a woman of influence, because they record her death.
Miriam was a woman of influence. She lost influence by making a play for power. Are you satisfied with what God has given you to be and to do? Are you serving him wholeheartedly, just where you are, whatever your calling?
There is much to learn from Miriam’s experiences.
Read more about Miriam: