Two Spoke Against Moses, and even Against the Ethiopian Woman, but only One was Punished by a Just God, Why?

"And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it." (Numbers 12:1-2

So then, given what takes place between both Miriam and Aaron, why was only Miriam stricken with leprosy when it was both Aaron and Miriam who spoke against Moses? Is God not just?

I know the tradition of its teaching, but I believe there is something we completely miss about this word. Yes, Miriam is listed first in Numbers 12:1 but it was an Aaron who held the greater office, having even the greater level of responsibility/authority (or at least recognized as so). This, though I doubt contested, is even confirmed in the order they were called before the LORD after the time of the offense:

"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)

But was Miriam stricken and not Aaron because the people were still following her over Moses, yet this was not in alignment with what was the will of God in the deliverence of his people? It was an assignment as we know for Moses. Yes she was a bridge between the people she had always known and a Moses who had not, but it was not a permanent assignment for her, it was transitional. Yet she did nevertheless serve as a defacto leader of the people in addition to herself (as a watchful big sister in service to the Lord) having earlier even looked over a baby Moses. The entire camp, as word records, even refused to move until she was able to rejoin it.

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

A weak Aaron of course is out of the question, but did God do this in order that the people might better begin to transition (in her physical absence and outward state of shame) from looking to a Miriam for leadership and not a Moses? And was the stigma of her punishment (leprosy) so severe because perception and preference of her as a leader among the people, both the male and the female, was just that strong and needed to be broken even by movement of God? (And yet despite this they, both men and women, still waited for her).

Again, putting aside how it is traditionally taught, if this is not true, given that she alone and not also Aaron was punished, how can we otherwise call it a just action by God?

Note too that God did not even instruct Moses to leave Miriam behind. That He purposed this to bring a change in the leadership but it was not, despite as it appeared on the surface, retribution taken against Miram by God.

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I wonder what Version of the bbile are you reading. kingjames,new kingjames , and niv are the true standard. I know that your study is in Great err. Miriam was never a leader in or of the Hebrew people. As the wife of Moses she was giving great respect as a 1sr lady would have in church. Aaron was never waek,he was one of two who believed God, He led the hebrews in battle after Batle. Mifiam was a jealous woman for two fold reasons. Moses took another wife, abd that she was a black woman.. Also by law and tradtion the hebrews had no woman leaders until the time of Judges
I must apologize for neglecting to say, I am using the King James version of the Bible, however I must also correct you. Your facts are in great err. Miriam was not the wife of Moses, she was his sister and it was Aaron who was his brother. So she also, as his sister and not his wife, was not in a position of 1st lady as in the church today and she therefore was not a jealous wife. She and Aaron both may have been jealous and disapproving siblings, but she as his sister was most certainly not a jealous wife.

Aaron is the same man as priest, who submitted to the will of the people in making the golden calf in the prolonged absence of Moses and who lost two of his eldest sons by the return fire of God after they foolishly made a strange offering before him. As the two eldest sons of the high priest, one would think that they, having come of age and installed in their own office, would have known better as taught and prepared by their father (this speaks even against Aaron as being his fruit). Why did God have to do this, to not just one, but two of his sons?

In calling Aaron weak I was speaking about the individual person of Aaron not against the male gender as you seem to have interpreted it, and I think based upon the life of an Aaron it is a safe thing to say. Also, what battle pray tell, did Aaron lead the people in? Are you thinking of a Joshua? A Caleb?

The point of the post is not to say that Miriam functioned in a formal office as leader over all of the Hebrew people, but only as a defacto one. That is, she (even as a prophetess) led both male and female according to actual fact and not according to actual establishment of her in a recognized office, and that the traditional male teaching of this word misses the true intent and full import of purpose and message from God.

It is also not my intent to suggest that Moses was not seeking to function according to his call and office but it is obvious from word and subsequent actions taken by God, that the choice of the people was made in favor of Miriam and that she even for a time (transitional as it was), served God in doing so.

Thank you for your comment but please take the time to review details of this Scripture first and then the post so that we might rightly discuss the matter.
I stand corrected in that miriam was not the wife, but the sister of moses.[ I can and will accept corrective]
I find nowhere in scripture that miriam was a leader of anyhting. miriam was so rebellious in that God struck her with leprosy. Moses interceded with God for her and she was healed.When I spoke of aaron fighting battle after battle . I was refering when He and moses facing pharaoh,example aarons rod turned into a serpent . Then swallowed up the serpents of magicains. aaron streched forth his rod over lakes and streams and frogs, covered Egypt. etc.Hebrew soceity by tradtion,law,religious view. did not accept or allow female leadership. Please keep in mind this was a time, when you could trade two sheep and goat .Recorded female leadership came about during the time of judges. [Debra] etc.I have read in bible commentaries where She considered herself a prophetess. [ yet i find it not in scripture]. This is not to say that she didn't help leadership in some form or fashion. we must becarefull not add or take away from scripture. again i admit my error in a previous post.
Brother Valentine,

Thank you for returning to the discussion. This is what Exodus 15:20 says:

"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.”

The initial post itself points out that Miriam was not in a recognized office of leadership but defacto, and supporting this, as is evident in Numbers 12:15, the camp did not move without her. Also, that although two (both Miriam and Aaron) spoke against Moses (and Aaron even as high priest), only she was punished, and that even God makes it an issue of Office in 12:6 between that of a Moses and that of a prophet (which Aaron was not as High Priest while Miriam was a prophetess). What are your thoughts about what is in the text we are discussing regarding this?

Also, it is not the tradition and custom of biblical men that we should seek to exalt but what is only revealed as the actual will of God in his word. And if she was not operating in an office recognized by God, an office that I believe even he equated to that of a prophet in Numbers 12:6, then why did God give rebuke to an Aaron, a man as high priest, openly in her presence? When does God operate like this, showing no regard for sanctity of an office he established? He made it clear by calling but then separating Moses, that Moses had nothing to do with it and was not under rebuke. He protected his office before the people. So why would he not separate Aaron and Miriam as well if Miriam, even before the eyes of God, was not herself operating in a role of leadership?

Regarding whether or not Aaron fought battles, though we know his personal battles in a role of leadership were many, what you have pointed to are actually miracles worked only by the hand of God, a Moses and Aaron only had to be obedient.

In all sincerity I must say too, but only as a response in general, God does not "pimp" women. That is to say, God is not going to allow himself to profit from the obedient exercising of a gift given by him to women, and then like men, fail to recognize her as such. Again why I believe he referred to Miriam in a like same way as a prophet in Numbers 12:6 (He was only speaking to Miriam and Aaron and Aaron was not a prophet). Men have their traditions, but God still has his ways and they are and have always been higher than that of men. So what men might profit from but fail to rightly recognize, I believe a just God, whether it be in this world or the next, will.
Pastor it was not because he took a black wife, for Miriam was a woman of color as well, it was because he took a pagan wife, It was not so much a feminine jealousy but a patriotic one, she was dead set against any foreign alliance.

Miriam's greatest offense, and the reason she probably was stricken was her sarcastic rejection of the leadership of Moses. Although her and Aaron both spoke out, but by the order of their names , Miriam was the instigator and spokesperson in the revolt Numbers 12:1

Miriam as a young girl saved and took care of Moses as a baby, but she hadn't seen him for 80 years, but Aaron she lived quietly with.

Pastor, the law may have been at that time that there were no women leaders, but some I'm sure as now led by infleuance
Thank for this post. In looking up the meaning of her (Miriam's) name it is based on a word meaning to act rebelliously and to even be bitter.

But I am still perplexed by this, why did God not also strike an Aaron in this instance given the recognized office he did hold? His standing by Office was greater than hers and this is the same Aaron having already participated in making the golden calf. Miriam may have led in the conversation but Aaron agreed with her and for whatever were his reasons (though I suspect the same as hers) he agreed.
I respectfully disagree. miriam had no problem with the other wives of Moses. But once he married a Black woman and one out of the faith,Hell broke loose.If my memory serves correct Moses had egyptian wives[Midiantes] who were enemies of Israelites.
I respectfully agree, but I was not in all error. I also correct my error love and peace
I re-read the title and perhaps it was confusing. I took it for granted that based upon common use of this text, people on this site would recognize that the Ethiopian woman was the wife of Moses and that the two speaking against them both (as Moses and this Ethiopian woman were man and wife) was his sister Miriam and brother Aaron.
Sis Davidson, I'm confused, I understand that Miriam was Moses sister, and Aaron his brother, yes the Ethiopian was his wife, she, Miriam, was still upset because he married a pagan, and her jealousy stemmed from Moses leadership and the foreign alliance???????


Oh, I see where you are coming from, Pastor did state incorrectly that Miriam was Moses wife.
Sister, I think you stated it correctly by saying that it had more to do with her unwillingness to tolerate any foreign alliance rather than as I said, that she was merely jealous. In fact, I only used the word jealous because Pastor Valentine did and I was suggesting that if she was jealous it was only as a sister and not a wife. Hope that helps.
Thanks for the encouragement sister Doretta, looking forward to reading your input! I would have loved to hear that sermon. The only thing I have always heard fails to address any issue other than that Miriam, a female, spoke against God's anointed as both a leader and a man, end of story. Speaking to the issues of gender, I don't have to describe in detail how that went I am sure.

I am being greatly blessed!

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