Relationships – Moses, Aaron, and Miriam

The sons of Ham:
Cush, Egypt, Put and Canaan.

  • Genesis 10:6

Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah.

  • Genesis 25:1-2

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

  • Exodus 2:1-10

Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.”
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
But Moses said, “Pardon your servant, Lord. Please send someone else.”
Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and he will be glad to see you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform the signs with it.” …
At a lodging place on the way, the Lord met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses’ feet with it. “Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me,” she said. So the Lord let him alone. (At that time she said “bridegroom of blood,” referring to circumcision.)
The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.
Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped.
Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”

  • Exodus 4:10-17, 4:24-5:1

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.

  • Exodus 7:1

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.

When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the Lord,
    for he is highly exalted.
Both horse and driver
    he has hurled into the sea.”

  • Exodus 15:1, 19-21

“Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron to give him dignity and honor.

  • Exodus 28:1-2

Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite. “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” And the Lord heard this.
(Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.)
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. 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, 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.
But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
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?”
The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he left them.
When the cloud lifted from above the tent, Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had a defiling skin disease, and he said to Moses, “Please, my lord, I ask you not to hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother’s womb with its flesh half eaten away.”
So Moses cried out to the Lord, “Please, God, heal her!”
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.” So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on till she was brought back.

  • Numbers 12:1-15

In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. …
“Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites, because both of you rebelled against my command at the waters of Meribah. Get Aaron and his son Eleazar and take them up Mount Hor. Remove Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, for Aaron will be gathered to his people; he will die there.”
Moses did as the Lord commanded: They went up Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar. And Aaron died there on top of the mountain. Then Moses and Eleazar came down from the mountain, and when the whole community learned that Aaron had died, all the Israelites mourned for him thirty days.

  • Exodus 20:1, 24-29

I brought you up out of Egypt
    and redeemed you from the land of slavery.
I sent Moses to lead you,
    also Aaron and Miriam.

  • Micah 6:4

A Quote

[Exodus 2:25] Consider the earth! Our globe’s weight has been estimated at six sextillion tons (a six with twenty-one zeroes). Yet it is precisely tilted at twenty-three degrees; any more or any less and our seasons would be lost in a melted polar flood. Though our globe revolves at the rate of one-thousand miles per hour or twenty-five thousand miles per day or nine million miles per year, none of us tumbles into orbit. …
“As you stand … observing God’s workshop, let me pose a few questions. If he is able to place the stars in their sockets and suspend the sky like a curtain, do you think it is remotely possible that God is able to guide your life? If your God is mighty enough to ignite the sun, could it be that he is mighty enough to light your path? If he cares enough about the planet Saturn to give it rings or Venus to make it sparkle, is there an outside chance that he cares enough about you to meet your needs?”

  • Max Lucado, The Great House of God

What Do We Know about their Relationship?

Note: The quote is between Bible quotations above, but in Exodus 4, Aaron was on his way to meet Moses while Moses was arguing with God as God spoke through a burning bush.

Miriam was protective of her little brother, having Moses’ birth mother become his “wet nurse.”  (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Moses had some difficulty in public speaking.  Aaron became the spokesperson.

After the Exodus, Miriam is identified as a prophetess.  Later, Aaron becomes the first chief priest.  Not copied in the Scriptures above are the many references to the Lord speaking to Moses and Aaron.

Later in life, Miriam and Aaron rebelled against Moses, thinking that their contributions were being ignored.  There was also the issue of Moses being married to a Cushite.

What Can We Infer about their Relationship?

We can infer that Aaron and Miriam had life much harder in growing up as slaves, compared to an adopted son of the daughter of Pharoah, Moses.

After Moses’ murder of an Egyptian slave master is discovered, Moses goes to the area near Mount Sinai.  He helps the daughters of a Midianite priest, marrying Zipporah, one of the daughters.  Midian was a son of Abraham through Keturah.  Yet, when Miriam and Aaron rebel against Moses, Moses’ wife is described as a Cushite.  There has been much written about the descendants of Ham being dark skinned, but in recent Y-chromosome research, tracking the ancestry of Y-chromosome variances, the dark-skinned people are scattered among the descendants of Noah.  There is no “Ham” curse, only a Canaanite curse.  It is quite possible that the Midianites in the Sinai region intermarried with the descendants of Ham, through Cush.  Was Zipporah a darker brown?  Do we have any proof or just guesswork?  With the Levitical Law being broken with marrying a non-Israelite, Miriam and Aaron have a reason to complain on that point, but the marriage was pre-Levitical Law, and with the quick action of Zipporah in circumcising Moses’ son, she has not only married Moses, but accepted the customs of the Abrahamic Covenant.

There must have been a communication between Moses and his blood relatives after the wet nursing was over.

In What Ways Can We Fill in the Gaps about their Relationship?

In the communication with his ancestral kindred, Moses saw that the slave masters were mistreating his people, thus the murder of the slave master.  If Moses had been raised in Pharoah’s home, after the wet nursing is complete, with no connection to the Israelites, he would not have known they were his people.  Thus, some form of communication was allowed.  He knew at the Burning Bush that he had a brother named Aaron.

And Moses’ slow speech has been characterized by many scholars as a stutter, but as an introvert, I often practice what I am going to say before I say it.  That could easily be considered “slow in speech.”  An introvert would do anything they could, even argue with Almighty God, to avoid such a role as being the center of attention for an entire nation of people.  It would be exhausting for them if they were to accept the job.  Moses felt he was just fine, all alone, tending sheep.

Most people refer to the other side of filling in that infant to adult gap, growing up in Pharoah’s court and what he could have possibly learned during those years.  We have no idea what Pharoah was grooming Moses to become.  He would not have been in line to become the next Pharoah, or at least far down the line, going to the sons of Pharoah first.  Yet, his education probably came in handy as an administrator, leader, and judge among the Israelites after the Exodus.

What Can We Learn from this Relationship?

Family relationships and the natural roles that emerge from those relationships need to be understood as well as nurtured.  If Aaron and Miriam had respected and understood their own roles, they may not have rebelled.  Yet, when situations leave an imbalance, jealousy can result.  Odd how this jealousy was in “facetime” with Almighty God, but it still led to jealousy and resentment.

Thus, Miriam’s and Aaron’s rebellion that led to Miriam becoming a leper, temporarily, was all about “equal billing.”  I can remember many popular television shows that were modified due to a supporting character becoming popular and refusing to continue without being paid more, acknowledged more, etc.  In many of those cases, the show lost its popularity.  In other cases, the cast became too demanding financially, and the show was cancelled for financial reasons.

In our relationship with Jesus, we are considered brothers and sisters with Christ, but Jesus will always be our Savior, our big brother to carry on the familial connection.  Moses should have been killed as a part of the order of Pharoah, but Moses is given a free entrance to Pharoah’s court only by the means of Pharoah’s daughter.  In the same vein, we may be brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of God, but only through the washing of our sins by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Before we puff out our chest and say that we are part of a royal line, we need to know that Jesus paid a debt that we could never pay ourselves, and we could never pay Him back.  All we can do is to love Him with every fiber of our bodies, minds, and souls (if the soul has “fiber”).

What Have We Learned thus far?

In shifting this section a bit, we have learned to:

  • Own our own mistakes and not blame others.
  • Be faithful to God, and worship properly, in the proper spirit.
  • Do not show favoritism among family members, but always go to God.
  • Forgiveness is extremely important for none of us are perfect except for God.
  • Beyond physical love, there are other expressions of love, and respect is very important.
  • A relationship requires maintenance, nurturing, and an acceptance of the roles.
  • And to love, love, and love.

A Closing Prayer

Thank you so much for accepting us as brothers and sisters.  Help us to focus on that one thought and serving You as much as possible on this earth, while we are still granted more time in doing so.  Heavenly Father, Your wonderful perfect plan is beyond our comprehension, but we thank You for loving us.  Give us the strength to serve You even more effectively.  Give us our Miriam that is hovering in protection nearby.  Give us our Aaron who can fill in for our weaknesses.  And we praise You for already having put those requests into Your plan before we even asked.
In Thy Name we pray,

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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