Rebellion of Aaron and Miriam In The Old Testament

Aaron and Miriam Started out Supporting Moses, but Later Began to be Angry and Bitter

From the time Aaron met Moses in the desert en route to Egypt, and all throughout the drama that unfolded before Pharaoh, he and Miriam were rock-solid supporters of Moses. As Moses' brother and sister, they were with him when they crossed the Red Sea as if it were on dry ground and they watched the Egyptian army drowned. Miriam was a prophetess (Exodus 15:20) and Aaron had faithfully been Moses' spokesman in Egypt.)

Aaron was the first appointed priest, and two of his sons also served in the priesthood. Except for the gold calf confrontation, neither Aaron nor Miriam had wavered. But Miriam, like Eve, listened to her own discordant thoughts and went to Aaron and ensnared him in her envy. The alleged reason was Moses' wife, according to Numbers 12:1, but she was not the real reason.)

This personal attack on Moses' character was completely without merit or substance. They said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” It does not say that they said anything directly to Moses. It appears that they were only talking about these things to each other, slandering Moses behind his back. What they failed to realize was that the Lord heard the things they said.

Suddenly, the Lord spoke audibly to Moses, Aaron and Miriam at the same time. “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” They responded, and went out to the tabernacle. The Lord manifested Himself in the pillar of cloud right in the doorway of the tabernacle. Then God called Aaron and Miriam to come forward. And the Lord spoke.

“If there were prophets among you, I, the LORD, would reveal myself in visions. I would speak to them in dreams. But not with my servant Moses. Of all my house, he is the one I trust. I speak to him face to face, clearly, and not in riddles! He sees the LORD as he is. So why were you not afraid to criticize my servant Moses?” (Numbers 12:6-8 NLT)

Miriam, earlier identified as a prophetess, is not mentioned at all between the Red Sea crossing and this incident. She and Aaron had been discussing how the Lord had spoken through them, but the fact is that God was not speaking through them, only through Moses. Scripture does not record a time when she carried out her ministry as a prophetess. Perhaps she had exercised this ministry in Egypt, foretelling the deliverer, but when Moses arrived and Aaron became his spokesperson, her work was finished.)

Aaron and his sons were in charge of the priesthood, and Moses had his 70 elders to assist him in oversight. Perhaps Miriam was feeling left out, jealous, angry, bitter. But the mental direction she was moving in was dangerous ground, an attitude that had already brought the wrath of God on thousands of her fellow Israelites.

The Lord was agitated. His presence, indicated by the cloud, disappeared. As soon as the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, Miriam was leprous, “as white as snow.” Aaron, seeing Miriam and realizing how he and Miriam had insulted and grieved God, pleaded with Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned!”)

Moses, also shocked by Miriam's appearance, and likely unaware of Miriam and Aaron's secret backbiting, cried out to the Lord. “Please heal her, O God, I pray!” According to the word of the Lord, Miriam was to be shamed and shut out of the camp for seven days. This was fulfilled and all of Israel waited before journeying further until Miriam was brought back into the camp again. The people then moved from Hazeroth and set up camp in the Wilderness of Parano.

Written by: Pete Miller