Let’s explain something that has always bugged me. The mother of Jesus was named Mary. The elder sister of Moses was named Miriam. They sound alike because they are the same name – Miriam is the Hebrew form of Mary. Now two people with the same name in the Bible may not mean all that much; but let’s consider what they have in common, by making another connection; Moses and Jesus.
This one is well known, but it can be dramatically expanded upon. Moses was the revealer of the old testament; Jesus was the revealer of the new. They are contrasted in that light so often in the New Testament, I needn’t reference proof. Moses hosted the old passover, Jesus hosted the new. Moses was a savior to deliver Israel from bondage to Egypt, which pictures sin in the Bible; Jesus delivered spiritual Israel from sin as our savior; They have much more in common, but that’s a good start. And this scripture makes the concept ironclad:
Acts 7:37 This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, LIKE UNTO ME; him shall ye hear.
This prophecy is referenced several times as referring to Christ, where the question is asked “Are you THAT prophet?” – that prophet “Like unto Moses”.
John 1:21 And they asked him [John], What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.John 6:14Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth THAT PROPHET that should come into the world.
So Jesus is a type of Moses. Or vice versa. Anyway, if Mary is a type of Miriam, we begin to build a picture. Perhaps this is yet one more of those things which “happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition”? (1 Corinthians 10:11).
Moses was born into a rather rocky time in Israel’s history. They were in slavery. And all newborn males were to be executed. Moses was hidden for 3 months, but when they could no longer hide him, Miriam cast him adrift on the water, and Pharoah’s daughter picked him up and… well, you know the story.
Jesus childhood was very similar. The world in Jesus time was still in slavery, just a different type of slavery; in His day, it was in bondage to sin. Jesus was also under a threat of execution after his birth, and ironically He was hidden in Egypt until two years had passed. It requires only a slight bit of imagination to think of Mary as Jesus’ “sister” in a spiritual sense, much as Miriam was Moses’ sister in a physical sense.
The name Moses means “drawn out”, I.E., drawn out of the water. Water in the Bible is explained by an angel as symbolizing “people” (Revelation 17:15). Moses was taken from the Hebrews and raised as a prince in Egypt, so it isn’t a huge stretch to say that Moses was “drawn out from the people” as well as being drawn out of the literal water.
John 15:19, 17:16If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. … They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
Similarly, God called Jesus “out of the world”, who in turn drew all of us out of the world. So in that since, Jesus was “Moses” – drawn out. Now Miriam set Moses adrift in that river, just as Mary gave birth to Jesus and set him adrift in that river. We find Mary pictured in this light in Revelation 12 as the woman about to bring forth a man child.
Revelation 12:5-6 And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness …
Then the devil fought against her, and tried to drown her with a flood out of his mouth – again symbolizing people.
Verse 15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
Mary literally brought forth a man child, Jesus; but she isn’t really the primary one being talked about here, as most any student of the Bible knows; this scripture applies to the church, both the one in ancient Israel (Acts 7:38), and the one in the New Testament. Both in their own ways gave birth to Jesus, and both in their own ways fought the dragon.
Verse 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
Most prophecies in the Bible are dual; meaning they have two meanings, one literal, and one physical. But this one has at least five. Mary gave birth to Jesus; Miriam set Moses adrift; The Old Testament church, the New Testament church, and Eve who gave birth to Jesus – albeit removed by a few generations. The last one is shown directly in Genesis, and unlocked indirectly by Paul…
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman [Eve], and between thy seed and her seed; it [The Woman’s Seed] shall bruise thy head, and thou [Satan] shalt bruise his heel [the Seed of the woman].
This verse is clearly speaking of Christ, since only one person is going to be bruising Satan’s head (Romans 16:20 tells us who), and it clearly speaks of seed as being singular when it says “bruise his heel”, not bruise THEIR heel, but HIS heel. Paul exposes this little trick God uses to hide knowledge in…
Galatians 3:16Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seedS, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
So, to recap so far; “the woman” representing the Church has many symbolic expressions in the Bible; Mary, Eve and Miriam, which is probably not a comprehensive list. These women all brought forth or drew out or bore a man child, Jesus. But this, while interesting, pretty much proves something we already knew and as such is scarcely worth writing about. If I can’t write something new, I’d rather not write. So let’s see if we can build something interesting out of this understanding…
I always thought God overreacted on a few occasions; I mean, let’s be honest, God did some pretty inexplicable things in the old testament, which on the surface seemed almost capricious; once we understand those things, they are always fully justified but it can throw you for a loop when you don’t know WHY God killed every man, woman, and child in Caanan; WHY God sent Ahab a lying spirit; and for our case in point, WHY God made Miriam a leper.
Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
Moses had already married a Midianite woman, the daughter of a pagan priest at that. But Midianites were related to the Hebrews, since Midian was one of the sons of Keturah, wife of Abraham after the death of Sarah. As such they were still seen as “one of the family”, so to speak. But the Ethiopians were, as the original Hebrew has it, Cushites, from Cush, son of Ham, who fathered the black races.
Marrying among one’s own people had a very strong tradition, with Abraham insisting on Isaac marrying of his own people, and Isaac did the same with Jacob, and Esau married a daughter of Ishmael to try and fit in. So when Moses married an Ethiopian woman, Aaron and Miriam were incensed.
Verse 2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.
Now it was probably that part that annoyed God far more than speaking against Moses for marrying an Ethiopian woman. Nonetheless God felt that none of their attitude was justified, for even though Moses was meek and apparently didn’t do much to defend himself, God jumped in…
Verses 6-9 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
This much is understandable; it’s the next part that seemed unnecessary, even to Moses.
Verse 10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.
So Aaron repented and Moses begged God to have her healed, and God refused to leave it at that; insisting on seven days of shame.
Verses 14-15 And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again. And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.
And no doubt both Miriam and Aaron were more circumspect about challenging Moses’ relationship with God next time. But why turn her leprous for just mouthing off at Moses? It makes a bit more sense now that we understand that Miriam represented the church, specifically the Old Testament church, in her relationship to Jesus.
The Old Testament church held a monopoly on God’s love for 1500 years, despite their regular abuse of it, they were His special chosen people and they knew it. The Jews in Jesus’ time brought this to a fine art in their arrogance, and even after the early church was formed, despite the spirit of God working so powerfully with everyone, the gentiles were being mistreated by the Jewish converts.
Acts 6:1 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.
And this feeling of superiority – bigotry, really – was so strong that even after twenty years of being taught by Jesus, and long after he, himself opened the gospel to the gentiles, Peter still was allowing himself to be coerced by the Jewish self-importance, and refusing to eat with gentiles (Galatians 2:12).
That attitude is inherent in any unconverted mind that is constantly told it is better than everyone else; naturally it believes it, since that’s what we want to believe anyway. Miriam and Aaron and the rest of the Hebrews had been told all their lives about the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; about the promises of inheriting the world; and they had developed an exaggerated sense of their own importance.
See, the Israelites had no problem with the gentiles being converted and finding God. They were all for that, and scripture is full of prophecies like this:
Jeremiah 16:19 O LORD, my strength, and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit.
And they knew those scriptures. But the Israelites had always envisioned the gentiles going THROUGH them to find God. In other words, the gentile has to be circumcised, become a nationalized Isrealite, offer sacrifices, and so on, and go through THEIR SYSTEM to find God – thus making themselves always inherently superior to the gentiles. And so what annoyed the Jews in the new testament is that Paul BYPASSED them. He skipped right by them and make obedient Gentiles equal in the eyes of God to Jews.
This was the shocking part. This was why God had Peter deal with the uncircumcised, unnaturalized Cornelius personally, and proved to Peter that God can indeed give the holy spirit to the uncircumcised gentiles. But this message still didn’t really sink in, and presumably Cornelius was circumcised after being baptised, and taught to follow the laws of Moses after all of that, for that’s what they were teaching many years later to subvert Paul’s converts.
It comes down to this; Jesus was the husband of Israel. And Israel thought that no matter what she did, that would always be the case. No matter what acts of adultery she committed, she would always inherit the promises because she was “special”. And no gentile, no matter how obedient, could ever compare with her, no matter how disobedient. And so it came as quite a shock when God divorced her.
Jeremiah 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; …
It took a long time for the divorce to finalize, you might say, for He was still somewhat tied to her as much as 600 years later; nonetheless, He did finally do it and married a spiritual church, with obedient gentiles in it on an equal footing with obedient Jews, and a far superior footing to disobedient Jews.
Romans 11:11-12 I say then, Have they [Isrealites] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
And Paul goes on to talk about how the Israelites who stumbled at the truth, once they stop rebelling, can be grafted back into the olive tree; but the point of all this, is that God rejected a rebellious Israel and married a gentile.
And so when Moses, representing Jesus, married a GENTILE, Israel was indignant. After all there were plenty of Israelite girls who were probably all googly-eyed over Moses. But Moses married a Cushite. What skin color she was we don’t know for certain, but for our purposes it doesn’t matter; she wasn’t a Hebrew and that was plenty. Hebrews didn’t like sharing Moses and they don’t like sharing Jesus.
And so those were the motives behind Miriam’s (the Old Testament churches) attack on Moses (Jesus) marrying a Cushite woman (Gentile church). And with that in mind, it makes much more sense why God was so severe on her. She was being a bigot. It wasn’t about the woman, it was her own racial pride that was offended. And so God made her wait outside the camp seven days in shame…
And so, the old testament church, any of them who “abode still in unbelief”, anyone (Romans 11:23) going as far back as Adam who thought that God loved them more because they were “special”, and thought they could break the rules and still be loved… will not be resurrected at the end of this age with the righteous. They are now lepers to God and will have to wait in disgrace outside the camp of God until seven days have elapsed since Adam and a lesser resurrection comes along.
They who were first, who had the best opportunity to win God’s love, will find themselves entering the second resurrection below the gentiles they despised. They will walk in shame into the kingdom of God behind Antiochus Ephiphanes, Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh Hophra.
And that’s why God was so harsh with Miriam – it was her attitude that would lead to all of this happening. Her racial self-assuredness that meant that God would one day have to divorce all of Israel and start fresh with a new church. He was just trying to nip it in the bud… but it wouldn’t die.