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Miriam

Meaning: rebellious; their rebellion; bitterness

This was the name of 2 biblical women.

  1. Miriam, a woman mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:17, a descendant of Judah

  2. Miriam, the elder sister of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 2:4-10; 1 Chronicles 6:3)

    Her name is prominent in the history of the Exodus. She was born 4 years years before Aaron and 7 years before Moses, whom she watched over from a distance after he was placed in an floating basket of bullrushes by their mother (Jochebed), in the hope of saving his life.

    The first time she is mentioned by name in the Bible is in Exodus 15:20.

    She is called “the prophetess” (Exodus 15:20). She took the lead in the song of triumph (“Song at the Sea”), after the miraculous passage through the Red Sea.

    Miriam and Aaron initially objected to Moses’ taking a Cushite wife (Numbers 12:1) and in a prideful public outburst, spoke disrepectfully of God’s servant.

    Then 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 as well?”

    And the Lord heard it. (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any man who was on the face of the earth.) Suddenly the Lord said to Moses and Aaron and to Miriam,

    “You three come out to the tent of meeting.”

    So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said,

    “Hear now My words:
    If there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision.
    I shall speak with him in a dream.

    Not so, with My servant Moses,
    He is faithful in all My household;
    With him I speak mouth to mouth,
    Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
    And he beholds the form of the Lord.
    Why then were you not afraid
    To speak against My servant, against Moses?”

    So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses,

    “Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!”

    Moses cried out to the Lord, saying,

    “O God, heal her, I pray!”

    But the Lord said to Moses,

    “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.”

    So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again. —Numbers 12:1-15 NASB

    Years later, she died at Kadesh during the 2nd encampment at that place, toward the close of the wanderings in the wilderness, and was buried there (Numbers 20:1). Like Moses and Aaron, God did not allow her to enter the Promised Land.

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