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A Word To Women

The Lord gives gifts to His people and it is our duty to use these as He directs.

Miriam is best known as the sister of Moses and Aaron, but she was a strong personality in her own right.Her parents were Amram and Jochebed, a faithful, God-fearing couple. The third child was born to Amram and Jochebed when Egyptian law ordered that every new-born Hebrew boy be drowned. For three months they carefully hid their baby before coming up with a plan which would ensure their child’s survival.

Jochebed wove a “Moses Basket”, waterproofed it, carefully placed her infant in it, and then put the basket in the river among the plants. We can only imagine her anguish of heart and prayers for her darling baby. Miriam, although only a child of ten or twelve, watched to see what would happen. As Jochebed had anticipated, Pharaoh’s daughter came with her retinue for the daily ritual of bathing in the Nile. Noticing the basket, she had it brought. Compassion filled her heart as the baby cried when the basket was opened. As she was wondering what to do, Miriam appeared and suggested that she could find a nurse for the infant. The baby, named Moses by Pharaoh’s daughter, was returned to his mother to be nurtured, with all expenses paid by the palace. Miriam deserves credit for quick thinking and bravery in approaching the princess. Young people and even children can put us to shame with their faith and courage.

Moses was adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and was educated as a prince in Egypt. However, Moses the adult identified himself with the Israelites and, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.” (Hebrews 11:27) Moses was forty years old at this time. He would spend another forty years as a shepherd in Midian. We know nothing of Miriam during this time but she appears to have remained single. Faithful to the Lord, she was well known and respected among the women.

We meet her next, in her nineties, when Moses had led God’s chosen people out of Egypt. Inspired by the Lord, Moses and the people sang a song of praise. Miriam, described as a prophetess, led the women in song as they danced in joy before the Lord (Exodus 15:20, 21). The Lord gives gifts to His people and it is our duty to use these as He directs. In her generation, Miriam was used to lead His praise, and she used the freedom of being single to serve God among the women.

But Miriam was not without blemish. Incredibly she criticised Moses, finding fault with his marriage and questioning his authority. (Numbers 12:1,2). Aaron joined her in the criticism, but Miriam seems to have been the instigator. Moses was content to let her remarks pass, but the Lord stepped in to rebuke and punish. Miriam was smitten with leprosy. We are all inclined to think we know how things should be done and to want pre-eminence and praise. It is a battle to keep the flesh submissive to God’s will. Hebrews 13:17 instructs, “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

Thankfully Miriam acknowledged and repented of her sin. It was Aaron who articulated the words of repentance (Numbers 12:5), but Moses who cried to the Lord for Miriam’s healing. Miriam had overstepped the mark and suffered the consequences. It was a humbling experience but her punishment, although severe, was limited to seven days. Miriam would die an old woman, mourned by the people, and an example to us all.

Olive Maxwell.