The Prophetess Miriam, Sister of Moses

The Prophetess Miriam, Sister of Moses

Though the most significant figures in Judaism tend to be men, there are many women who made a dramatic impact on the religion and culture. These women are honored in many ways and remembered with tremendous respect and admiration. One such woman is Miriam, the sister of Moses. Considered a prophetess, Miriam played a pivotal role in the eventual deliverance of the Hebrew people from oppression in Egypt.

Why Did Miriam Place Moses in the River?

At the time of Moses’ birth, Pharaoh had made a proclamation that all baby boys born to Hebrew families would be killed. Moses’ mother Yocheved feared for the life of her youngest child. She asked Miriam to put the baby in a basket and set him afloat on the water. The hope was that he would be found and welcomed into another family so he would be safe. Miriam followed the basket until it got caught in the reeds and watched as he was found.

Who Adopted Moses?

Pharaoh’s daughter discovered Moses. The princess immediately felt an attachment to the infant and brought him home to her father. She adopted him as her own but needed to find someone to suckle him. Miriam approached the princess and suggested the adoptive mother take a nurse for the baby. Miriam recommended Yocheved, who was taken into the palace, thereby allowing her to raise her own baby. As Moses was raised as a favorite within the palace, he also had the opportunity to learn about his Hebrew heritage, though he would not know about his true origins until he was an adult.

What Was the Victory Song of Miriam?

Miriam stayed in close contact with her brother throughout her life. She was one of the first to hear of her brother killing an Egyptian slave master who was violent against the Hebrews. She was also one of his greatest supporters when he stood up against Pharaoh to demand the release of his people. When the Exodus occurred, the Bible teaches that Pharaoh sent his army to bring the Hebrews back. Moses divided the Red Sea and the Hebrews escaped across. When the armies entered the dry land, however, God sent the water crashing back on to them. Miriam raised her hand into the air in celebration and sang, “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously. Horse and rider he has cast into the sea.”

Why Was Miriam White as Snow?

There are several instances in which Miriam is referred to as being “white as snow.” Miriam is said to have spoken out against Moses during the 40 years the Hebrews spent in the desert. Considering herself a prophetess, she questioned the religious authority of Moses and thought herself to be as worthy of direct communication with God as her brother. God punished her by afflicting her with tzaraat, a disease that turned the skin white. Moses interceded for his sister and God healed her after she spent seven days cast out of the camp. Tzaraat is often translated as leprosy, although further investigation into historical accounts has shown the disease was more likely a type of skin cancer.

Did Miriam Marry?

There is some question as to the marriage of Miriam. It would be very strange during that time for any person to go through life unmarried. The translation of the original texts of the Torah, however, has made it somewhat confusing to determine if and who Miriam may have wed. Some writings refer to her as the wife of Hur. Others, however, are translated as her being the mother of Hur. This would mean that she was the wife of Caleb, meaning that she was also referred to as Ephrath during her life.

Though her role as Moses’ sister made her important enough, Miriam is remembered for more as well. Within Judaism she is considered a prophetess. Her song of victory after the miracle of the Red Sea is still sung to remember God’s deliverance of His people.




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