Biblical People

Biblical People: Miriam (1)

Miriam is the older sister of Moses and the sister of Aaron. Recall that young Miriam watches at a distance to see what happens after her mom places baby Moses in a basket in the Nile River. In this we see an obedient and brave girl.

Later, as an adult, Miriam becomes both a prophet and a worship leader. She directs the Israelite women in song and dance to celebrate God’s rescue after they cross the sea to escape the pursuing Egyptian army.

Unfortunately, what we know best about Miriam is when she and Aaron oppose Moses out of jealousy, criticizing his choice for a wife. God’s judgment is quick, instantly afflicting her with leprosy, a contagious skin disease, which was untreatable at the time. 

Though Aaron is also at fault, he doesn’t get leprosy. This suggests that Miriam led their tiny rebellion. Aaron sees what happened and admits his bad attitude, begging Moses to intervene. Moses does, and God implicitly heals Miriam. 

A few years later Miriam dies. There’s no mention of the people mourning her death. This is a sad end to a once-promising life. Though Miriam starts well as a brave and obedient daughter and later becomes a prophet and worship leader, she lets jealousy define her later life. God is not pleased.

What can we do to finish strong? When we falter, how do we react when confronted with our shortcomings?

[Read Miriam’s story in Exodus 2:1–10; Exodus 15:20–21; Numbers 12:1–15; and Numbers 20:1.]

Learn about more biblical characters in Old Testament Sinners and Saints, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover. Get your copy today.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at