Who was the first woman prophet in the Bible?

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Miriam was the first woman prophet in the Bible. She was the daughter of Amram and Yocheved, and the sister of Moses and Aaron. The Talmud [names her as one of the seven major female prophets of Israel. Some of these women are: Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), the unnamed woman (Isaiah 8:3), and Anna (Luke 2:36).

Miriam played an instrumental role in protecting Moses during infancy (Exodus 2:4-8). Later on, and during the years of slavery, her task was to communicate to the people messages of hope and deliverance. She may have taught, encouraged, and corrected the Israelites when they got weary of waiting.

She also played a major role at the Exodus. After the Lord delivered the Israelites by destroying the Egyptian army in the Red Sea, Miriam took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances praising the Lord in song for His miraculous deliverance (Exodus 15:20,21). She was inspired by God with the words of the song. At that time, she was probably more than 90 years of age (Exodus 7:7).

The prophet Micah writes that Miriam worked alongside her brothers Moses and Arron: “For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, I redeemed you from the house of bondage; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam” (Micah 6:4). God provided specially qualified and inspired leadership for His people (Ps. 77:20; Hosea 12:13).

She specifically claimed to possess the prophetic gift (Num. 12:2), and that God had spoken through her. But her task was subordinate in relation to that held by Moses, but comparable to that of Aaron, who was himself subordinate to Moses (Exodus 4:16).

Regarding the death of Miriam, the Bible says, “The entire congregation of the children of Israel arrived at the desert of Tzin in the first month, and the people settled in Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there” (Numbers 20:1). Miriam left a good example of service and devotion to God for all woman to follow.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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