Miriam and Aaron Are Jealous of Moses
Proverbs 27:4 (NIV)
Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?
1-3Although Moses was the most humble person in all the world,
Numbers 12:3 (NIV)
Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.
from Wishful Thinking: A Seeker’s ABC
by Frederick Buechner
Humility is often confused with the polite, self-deprecation of saying you’re not much of a bridge player when you know perfectly well you are. Conscious or otherwise, this kind of humility is a form of gamesmanship.
If you really aren’t much of a bridge player, you’re apt to be rather proud of yourself for admitting it so humbly. This kind of humility is a form of low comedy.
True humility doesn’t consist of thinking ill of yourself but of not thinking of yourself much differently from the way you’d be apt to think of anybody else. It is the capacity for being no more and no less pleased when you play your own hand well than when your opponents do.
Miriam and Aaron started complaining, ” Moses had no right to marry that woman from Ethiopia! Who does he think he is? The LORD has spoken to us, not just to him.”
The complaint against Moses’ wife was just a cover; the real problem was their taking offense at Moses getting more credit than they. It’s pride.
Matthew 10:36 (NIV)
A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
The LORD heard their complaint 4and told Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to come to the entrance of the sacred tent. 5There the LORD appeared in a cloud and told Aaron and Miriam to come closer. 6Then after commanding them to listen carefully, he said:
” I, the LORD, speak to prophets
in visions and dreams.
7But my servant Moses
is the leader of my people.
8He sees me face to face,
and everything I say to him
is perfectly clear.
You have no right to criticize
my servant Moses.”
9The LORD became angry at Aaron and Miriam. And after the LORD left 10and the cloud disappeared from over the sacred tent, Miriam’s skin turned white with leprosy.
When Aaron saw what had happened to her, 11he said to Moses, ” Sir, please don’t punish us for doing such a foolish thing. 12Don’t let Miriam’s flesh rot away like a child born dead!”
Proverbs 30:32 (NIV)
“If you have played the fool and exalted yourself,
or if you have planned evil,
clap your hand over your mouth!”
Aaron’s action of turning to Moses as the only one who can help is in itself an ironic confirmation of what Aaron and Miriam had earlier denied—Moses’ unique relationship to God.
13Moses prayed, ” LORD God, please heal her.”
14But the LORD replied, ” Miriam would be disgraced for seven days if her father had punished her by spitting in her face. So make her stay outside the camp for seven days, before coming back.”
This was appropriate, because Miriam had done something even more shameful than spitting in her father’s face; she tried to bring down a leader of God’s people with petty, false, and self-interested criticism.
15The people of Israel did not move their camp until Miriam returned seven days later. 16Then they left Hazeroth and set up camp in the Paran Desert.
Micah 6:4 (NIV)
Listen to what the Lord says:
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.
Having just read one of the most shameful and saddest chapters in the Old Testament, let’s take a break. Now HERE is an odd connection to the whole Numbers story — do you remember the “Moses Supposes” sequence from the movie Singing in the Rain? As you watch Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor sing and dance, you may start to feel more cheerful!