Lord, you whisper to me through the stillness and you shout to me in the storm. Whispering or shouting, I want to hear your voice and obey your direction.
Read NUMBERS 12
Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses
12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. 2 “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
3 (Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
4 At once the Lord said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, “Come out to the tent of meeting, all three of you.” So the three of them went out. 5 Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud; he stood at the entrance to the tent and summoned Aaron and Miriam. When the two of them stepped forward, 6 he said, “Listen to my words:
“When there is a prophet among you,
I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
I speak to them in dreams.
7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
to speak against my servant Moses?”
9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
10 When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous[a]—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, 11 and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
13 So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
14 The Lord replied to Moses, “If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been in disgrace for seven days? Confine her outside the camp for seven days; after that she can be brought back.” 15 So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.
16 After that, the people left Hazeroth and encamped in the Desert of Paran.
- Numbers 12:10 The Hebrew for leprous was used for various diseases affecting the skin.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectGive thanks for the spread of the gospel throughout the world – people of every nation, tribe and tongue gathered up in God’s new family.
More rebellion within God’s people, but for Moses this time it’s closer to home. The passage contains issues that still cause grief and pain today – sibling rivalry, leadership tensions, and the issue of racism. Moses’ wife was an outsider from Cush, modern day Ethiopia.
The Lord chastises Aaron and Miriam for speaking against their brother. As important as their roles are as priest and prophetess, Moses’ task is unique – he is the one to whom God speaks directly (v 8). Criticizing him is like criticizing God himself. Miriam’s judgment seems fitting. If skin color is a problem, then let that be for her as well (v 10). If Moses’ wife is to be socially excluded, then let Miriam experience exclusion herself (v 15).
This is a challenging passage. For the early Christians, the issue was incorporating the Gentiles into a predominantly Jewish church (Acts 15; Romans 9–11). God’s kingdom was not about exclusion but the inclusion of all – even those who seem different and strange. As Paul declared, ‘There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). What does this mean for your own church community? Are there barriers to be broken?
Consider those you spend time with at your church. Are they mostly like you? In what ways can you reach out to the ‘different’ ones around you?
Dear Lord, my personal relationships can often be a challenge. Guide me to seek out those in my church who feel uncomfortable. Enable me to show them acceptance and love.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Discovery is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.