Biblical People

Biblical People: Miriam

Miriam is the older sister of Moses. She’s also the sister of Aaron. At the time when Moses is born, there’s a decree to kill all baby boys. His mom hides him as long as she can. Then she puts him in a basket and places him in the Nile River. 

Miriam watches at a distance to see what happens. When the pharaoh’s daughter finds him, Miriam pops up and offers to find a woman to nurse him. She picks her mom.

Later, as an adult, Miriam is a prophet and 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 as an adult 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 is untreatable at the time.

Though Aaron is also at fault, he is not so stricken, suggesting that Miriam led their tiny rebellion. When Aaron sees what happened to his sister, he immediately admits his bad attitude and begs Moses to intervene. Moses does, and God heals her. 

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

What can we do to finish strong?

[Discover more about Miriam in Exodus 1–2, Exodus 15:20–21, Numbers 20:1, and Numbers 26:59.]

Learn about other biblical women in Women of the Bible, available in audiobook, e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

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