Journey Through The Scriptures

The Life of Five Righteous Women

Lesson 2: Miriam Helps to Lead Israel

(Scripture to Read: Exodus 15:19–21; Numbers 12:1–16; 20:1)

Like her mother Jochebed, Miriam was somewhat obscure in the biblical text—but a key figure nonetheless. It took faith and courage to do what she did to save her baby brother, Moses, from Pharaoh's death order. But like her mother Jochebed, Miriam was not mentioned by name in Exodus 2. She was first identified by name as she took part in the great song of deliverance that Moses and the Israelites sang after God drowned Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea.

The Bible calls Miriam a "prophetess." It suggests that the Lord spoke through Miriam in some way—which may help explain the incident in Numbers 12. Aaron probably led the challenge against Moses' leadership, but Miriam clearly had a part. But God reaffirmed Moses' authority in the strongest terms possible, and struck Miriam with leprosy. She later died at Kadesh.

Study Questions

  1. How does Exodus 15 indicate that Miriam had a leadership role among the Israelites?
  2. How do we know that Miriam and Aaron were using the marriage of Moses as an excuse to hide their jealousy?
  3. Even though Miriam had acted foolishly, she was still an important figure in Israel's history. What did the entire nation do during the seven days it took for her leprosy to clear up?
  4. Read Micah 6:4 and describe in your own words the high tribute that Micah paid to Miriam.

Something to Think About

What we know about Miriam can serve as both an encouragement and a lesson to us. It is encouraging to know God honors our acts of faith, no matter how small they may seem to us.

But Miriam's life also teaches us that jealousy has no place among God's people, because He has a place of service for each one of us – and the choice is His, not ours.