Numbers 12 Commentary. Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses
Miriam and Aaron oppose Moses. On the face of it the reason for the opposition seems to rise from Moses’ marriage to an unnamed African woman. We already know that Moses was married to Zipporah who gave him two sons named Gershom and Eliezer. At this stage Moses was above 80 and probably Zipporah was dead. We have very little information on the first family. The mention of the Cushite (Ethiopian) wife for Moses here is motivated by the jealous incident detailed in this chapter.
Both Aaron and Miriam began their argument with a reference to God’s grace over Moses. He wasn’t the only one that the LORD had spoken to, so they said. There is no reference to the law as the basis to oppose Moses’ marriage to the Cushite woman. What we see here is the usual (and typical) family resentment of a brother’s choice for a wife. We would suspect that Miriam led the opposition, based on women’s natural reaction in these issues, hence her being singled out for a stronger rebuke from the LORD.
In chapter 11 we saw the community in uproar over food. Now we have issues right within the top leadership team. Moses doesn’t protest to the LORD but instead it’s the LORD who moves in to protect and save the situation. It had been a trying moment for the nation in transit. We would suspect that there was a lot of resentment for Moses since he was the conduit for all the strict instructions from the LORD to the people. Today those who champion the LORD’S will and purposes do well to reflect on this passage. They suffer the wrath directed at the LORD. Man’s angry and sinful reaction against God is often directed at the subjects of the kingdom.
Chapter 12 is therefore a continuation of trouble for the nation. In fact it is these chapters in the middle of the book that define the book of Numbers. In the introduction we had wondered why the population of six hundred thousand men at the start was still six hundred thousand men after 40 years. At Kibroth Hattaavah in chapter 11, the community suffered loss as the LORD struck the nation with a severe plague. We can call it loss number one. We are still counting. The book of Numbers is actually about accounting for the various key numbers.
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