Why did Miriam and Aaron speak against Moses?


“And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.

Numbers 12:1-2

In the above passage, the Ethiopian woman literally means a “Cushite woman” (Genesis 10:6). Moses wife was named Zipporah. Her father was actually a Midianite (Exodus 2:16–19; 3:1), and thus a descendant of Abraham (Genesis 25:1). Upon rejoining Moses at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 4:25 and 18:2), Zipporah had observed the heavy burdens borne by her husband and expressed to her father, Jethro, her fears for Moses’ well-being.

So, Jethro counseled Moses to select others to share the responsibilities of administration with him. When Moses acted upon this counsel without first consulting Miriam and AaronMiriam and Aaron became jealous of him and blamed Zipporah for what they considered Moses’ neglect of them.

The fact that Zipporah was a Midianite, though a worshiper of the true God, was used by Miriam and Aaron merely as an excuse for rebelling against the authority of Moses. Moses did not violate the principle of non-marriage with the heathen when he took her to wife, as they apparently claimed. Zipporah was a worshiper of the true God.

Miriam here claimed equality with Moses, ignoring the fact that God had placed Moses in a unique position of authority. For “there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” (Deuteronomy 34:10).

So, the Lord responded to Miriam and Aaron’s comments, Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out.  Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward. Then He said,

“Hear now My words:
If there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision;
I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses;
He is faithful in all My house.
I speak with him face to face,
Even plainly, and not in dark sayings;
And he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:4-8).

The fundamental mistake of Miriam was one of disrespect for, and rebellion against Moses’ lawfully constituted authority which was appointed by God Himself. For that she was punished by God. “And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow” (Numbers 12:10). But she repented and was forgiven by God (Numbers 12:15).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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