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Saturday, November 30 2013

Numbers 12: The Jealousy Of Miriam and Aaron

Moses was the youngest of a family of three children. Aaron was three years older than Moses ("7:7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh." Exodus 7:7 KJV), while Miriam (to understand the origin of the English name Mary, see What Does The Bible Really Say About Mary?) was substantially older than both of them. When the infant Moses was placed into the Nile River by his mother (see Exodus 2: The Drawing Of Moses), Miriam followed the basket along the river (unlike the classic Ten Commandments movie with Charlton Heston, the Scriptures do not say that Moses' mother told Miriam to follow the basket along the river) to look over his safety in the powerful and crocodile-infested waters of the Nile - something that a little girl would be incapable of doing without being in as much danger as the baby in the basket. Miriam's quick-thinking, relatively-mature response to the Pharaoh's daughter also shows that she was at least in the mid or late teens when Moses was only three months old.

Miriam and Moses

"2:2 And the woman conceived, and bare a son: and when she saw him that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

2:3 And when she could not longer hide him, she took for him an ark of bulrushes, and daubed it with slime and with pitch, and put the child therein; and she laid it in the flags by the river's brink.

2:4 And his sister stood afar off, to wit what would be done to him.

2:5 And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. 2:6 And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children.

2:7 Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee?

2:8 And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go.

And the maid went and called the child's mother." (Exodus 2:4-8 KJV)

Over eighty years later ("7:7 And Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three years old, when they spake unto Pharaoh." Exodus 7:7 KJV), Miriam was a prominent Israelite woman, a "prophetess."

"15:20 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

15:21 And Miriam answered them, Sing ye to the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea." (Exodus 15:20-21 KJV)

A year after the Exodus, when the LORD (Who was and is Jesus Christ; see Genesis 1: In The Beginning Was The Word and The Kingdom Of The LORD God) had completed the assignment of tasks and responsibilities, Miriam and Aaron became resentful toward their younger brother. It began with disapproval of Moses' choice of a wife, or choice of another wife (it is unclear whether this is referring to Zipporah; see Moses And Zipporah).

"12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman." (Numbers 12:1 KJV)

The root cause of their resentment then became evident; they were jealous of the responsibility that the LORD gave to Moses - that Moses neither asked for, nor wanted. Moses repeatedly pleaded with the LORD to send someone else to begin with (see Exodus 3: The Sign Of The Flaming Bush) and then later repeatedly pleaded with the LORD to replace him when he realized that the Israelites were unable to free themselves of their slave mentality (see Numbers 11: Winners and Whiners).

"12:2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it." (Numbers 12:2 KJV)

Moses did not respond to their rebellion.

"12:3 Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth." (Numbers 12:3 KJV)

The LORD however did respond.

Miriam

"12:4 And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out." (Numbers 12:4 KJV)

The LORD made it clear that Moses was His chosen servant. Moses spoke the Word of God because the LORD had chosen to speak to Moses.

"12:5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.

12:6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 12:7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?" (Numbers 12:5-8 KJV)

Miriam and Aaron survived their rebellion, but not without wrath. Miriam was made "leprous." Some debate why Miriam was inflicted while Aaron was not. The most-likely and obvious reason was that Miriam was apparently the leader - the reason that it is stated as "Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses." The other reason is pragmatic; if Aaron had been made leprous, he would not have been able to carry out his daily responsibilities as the High Priest. It's plain however that "the fear of the LORD" was instilled in him just as well as it was in Miriam - neither of them rebelled against Moses again.

"12:9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed." (Numbers 12:9 KJV)

12:10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. 12:11 And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. 12:12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb." (Numbers 12:9-12 KJV)

Moses prayed for Miriam's healing.

"12:13 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee." (Numbers 12:13 KJV)

The LORD responded with a reiteration of the health laws that permitted Miriam's natural healing (see Leviticus 13: Bacteria).

"12:14 And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

12:15 And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again." (Numbers 12:14-15 KJV)

The Israelites thereafter continued their northward journey to the Promised Land (see Numbers 10: North To The Promised Land).

"12:16 And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran." (Numbers 12:16 KJV)

Fact Finder: Did any of Moses, Aaron or Miriam enter the Promised land in their physical lifetimes?
See Where Are Miriam, Aaron And Moses?


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This Day In History, November 30

1016: King Edmund II of England died. He became known as "Ironside" for his defense of England against the invading Danes under Canute (or "Knut"). Canute's forces eventually won however, and made the Danish/Polish Viking Canute the king of England for 20 years, during which the pro-Rome Canute made England into a territory of the so-called Holy Roman Empire (see The Holy Roman Empire Of The German Nation).

Cnut 1215: The Fourth Lateran Council ended. Convened by Pope Innocent III, it made the first official use of the Church of Rome's man-made doctrine of "transubstantiation."

1554: Under Queen Mary (Mary Tudor - "Bloody Mary") Roman Catholicism was restored to England for a short time. Mary had Thomas Cranmer, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley and nearly 300 other Protestant leaders burned at the stake.

1700: A Swedish force of 8,000 under King Charles XII defeated 50,000 Russians at the Battle of Narva. The Russian loses were 10,000, while Sweden lost 600. Charles died on this date, in 1718, while invading Norway.

1718: Sweden's King Charles XII died during the siege of the fortress Fredriksten in Norway.

1786: Peter Leopold Joseph of Habsburg-Lorraine, Grand Duke of Tuscany, proclaimed a criminal justice reform policy that made his country the first to abolish the death penalty.

1803: Spain officially transferred the Louisiana Territory to France. Less than 3 weeks later, France transfered the territory to the U.S. as the Louisiana Purchase.

1824: Work began on the Welland Canal. The canal, located in the Province of Ontario, connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, bypassing Niagara Falls, enabling large ocean-going ships to access ports in Ontario, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Minnesota.

1838: Mexico declared war on France after the French taking of Vera Cruz.

1853: During the Crimean War, the Russia's navy devastated much of the Turkish (i.e. Ottoman) fleet at the battle of Sinope (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).

1934: The British Railways steam locomotive Flying Scotsman became the first to officially exceed 100 miles per hour.

1939: Russia invaded Finland with 20 army divisions consisting of nearly 500,000 troops.

1950: U.S. President Harry Truman threatened to again use his atomic bombs (his first two uses of "the bomb" incinerated the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in which over 200,000 civilian men, women and children were killed or horribly burned), this time against North Korea. From that time on, North Korea (and a number of other nations) sought to get "the bomb" too, to defend themselves from those who threaten to nuke them.

1983: Radio Shack began selling its Tandy computer (80186 chip).

1988: The United Nations General Assembly censured the U.S.A. not providing Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat a diplomatic visa to enter New York for the sole purpose of addressing the UN.

1996: Prince Andrew returned the Stone of Scone (pronounced "scoon") to Scotland on behalf of England after exactly 700 years during a ceremony in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle. The 440 pound block of grey sandstone was the coronation seat of Scottish kings until it was carried away as war booty by King Edward I in 1296. It was placed under the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey where it has been involved in all coronations since then.



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