Who was Miriam in the Old Testament?


By BibleAsk Team


Miriam, a prominent figure in the Old Testament, is often overshadowed by the towering presence of her brother Moses. However, her role in the biblical narrative is significant, and her life is woven into the fabric of Israel’s journey through the wilderness. This exploration delves into Miriam’s life, examining her as a prophetess, leader, and sister of Moses.

Early Life

Miriam first emerges in the Bible in the book of Exodus, as the daughter of Amram and Jochebed and the elder sister of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 2:1-10; Numbers 26:59). Born during the oppressive period when Pharaoh ordered the killing of Hebrew male infants, her parents courageously preserved Moses’ life by placing him in a basket among the reeds of the Nile River.

The Prophetess

Her prophetic role becomes evident in Exodus 15:20-21, following the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea. In celebration of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt, she, described as a prophetess, took a timbrel in her hand, and the women followed her with timbrels and dances. In her song, she praised God for the victory, acknowledging His might and salvation.

Leadership under Moses

Miriam’s leadership extends beyond her prophetic role. In Exodus 2:7-8, she played a crucial part in ensuring that Moses was safely cared for after being discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter. Additionally, in Numbers 12, she and Aaron questioned Moses’ leadership, citing his marriage to a Cushite woman. God responded by affirming Moses’ unique relationship with Him and struck Miriam with leprosy. Moses, displaying compassion and interceding for his sister, pleaded with God for her healing.

Death and Legacy

Miriam’s death is recorded in Numbers 20:1, marking the end of a significant era. The people mourned her passing, recognizing the vital role she played in their journey. Miriam’s legacy lived on, influencing subsequent generations.

Lessons to Learn

Miriam’s life offers valuable lessons. Her courage as a child, preserving Moses’ life, demonstrates the impact individuals can have in challenging circumstances. As a prophetess, she exemplifies the importance of praise and worship in acknowledging God’s deliverance. Furthermore, her leadership and subsequent humbling by God emphasize the need for humility and submission to divine authority.


Miriam, a figure in the Old Testament, emerges as a prophetess, leader, and sister of Moses. Her life is intricately woven into Israel’s history, and her contributions deserve recognition. The Bible provides a comprehensive account of her journey, allowing readers to glean insights into her character, faith, and legacy. Through her story, we are reminded of the significance of courage, worship, leadership, and humility in our own spiritual journeys. Her narrative remains a timeless and inspiring testament to the enduring power of faith and the transformative work of God in the lives of His people.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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