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Miriam of Magdala

The Greek / Roman name Mary originated from the more-ancient Hebrew name Miriam (or "Miryam"). Moses' sister Miriam ("Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister" Numbers 26:59 KJV) would have been translated as "Mary" if the original writing had been in the New Testament, which was originally written in Greek. In the same way, the name Mary in the New Testament was actually referring to women who, to themselves, and to everyone who knew them, were named Miriam (the principle applies to Christ Himself; His actual name was (pronounced) Yeshua, but has been popularly rendered into English as "Jesus").

Miriam was a popular Hebrew name at the time of Christ's first coming. His mother was named Miriam (although most people don't realize that Miriam was the actual name of "Mary"). Another Miriam, along with her brother and sister Lazarus and Martha, were close friends of Jesus; He often visited their home in Bethany (see The Farewell Dinner At Bethany). The mother of the apostle Mark was also named Miriam; she was the sister of Barnabas ("Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas" Colossians 4:10 KJV).

But yet another Miriam, a woman from Magdala, a fishing village on the west shore of the Sea of Galilee, perhaps became a closer friend to the Messiah than any other human at that time. Now known as "Mary Magdalene," or "Mary of Magdala," she became a disciple (which means student) of Christ after He healed her of demon possession.

"8:1 And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and showing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, 8:2 And certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, 8:3 And Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance." (Luke 8:1-3 KJV)

Miriam thereafter was among those who witnessed His teachings, His Crucifixion and His burial in the tomb.

"27:54 Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.

27:55 And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him: 27:56 Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children.

27:57 When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: 27:58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 27:59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 27:60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. 27:61 And there was Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary, sitting over against the sepulchre." (Matthew 27:54-61 KJV)

"Yeshua said to her, Miryam!" (CJB)

Miriam was with those who first discovered the empty tomb (which had actually been empty since the previous day at just before sunset - see the Fact Finder question below).

The Holy Scriptures

"20:1 The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 20:2 Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him.

20:3 Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 20:4 So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 20:5 And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 20:9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead." (John 20:1-9 KJV)

Miriam's witness had been with others up to that point. But she then experienced something unique to her alone. Miriam, while remaining at the tomb site after the others left, was the first human that Christ spoke to after His resurrection. The Complete Jewish Bible maintains the actual Hebrew name pronunciations i.e. "Yeshua said to her, 'Miryam!" for John 20:16 whereas the King James has "Jesus saith unto her, Mary."

"20:10 Then the disciples went away again unto their own home. 20:11 But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 20:12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

20:13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou?

She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 20:14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

20:15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?

She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

20:16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary.

She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

20:17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

20:18 Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her." (John 20:10-18 KJV)

Fact Finder: Why did Miriam find Christ's tomb empty, long before sunrise, on that "Sunday" morning?
See The Messiah's Sabbath Day Resurrection


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