Monday, April 11, 2016

Miriam and her power play

This week we are going to study one of the powerful women of the Old Testament: Miriam, Moses' sister. Miriam has some lessons that we can learn . . . she experienced many things in her long life: despair and hope, slavery and freedom, even prominence and humiliation. She was just like us -- we are not perfect each and every day, and neither was she! She would, just as we can, experience the discipline of our Father.
Let's dive in!

We first see her mentioned when she was a young girl, maybe seven to twelve years old, in Exodus:
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.10 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)
From comparing texts and verses in other places in the Bible, we know that Moses' mom and dad were named Amram and Jochebed. They are lauded for their faith and integrity . . .  but we're studying their daughter here. Miriam's older brother was Aaron, and their younger brother was born at a very inopportune time as far as living more than a day was concerned. If you will remember, the Pharaoh and the rest of the Egyptians were alarmed at how many Hebrew people there were now....their nation had multiplied and God had blessed. And they'd multiplied more. So much so, that the Pharaoh decided that all of the boy babies needed to be killed as soon as they were born -- thrown into the Nile. Imagine being a Hebrew mom or expectant mom . . . oh, how sad and frightened you would be.

So, in this passage we meet Miriam, because her mom and dad decided to hide their baby, and not allow the soldiers to find him. They saw that there was something special about this child, and by faith, they disobeyed the Pharaoh and Jochebed devised her plan, and made her basket.
What characteristics can we see in Miriam, in our story above? Well, she is protective of her little brother, and she is brave, because what she did would have taken a lot of courage! She is capable, and quick-witted, too, and clever. Look at how she assessed the situation -- she saw that the princess' heart was touched by the wee babe, and she realized that not one of her companions would be ready or able to care for a child -- so she quickly suggested to the princess that she could run and find a suitable nurse for the child.

It must have been a wonderful feeling for Miriam to know that she was instrumental in saving her brother's life. We can imagine that she would have taken a huge interest in him, for the rest of his life, even when he left their home to go and live in the Pharaoh's palace. In fact, the whole family had high hopes for him. After all, he was special when he was born, and then God worked to save his life in a miraculous way. . . why, maybe he will be the one to deliver Israel from servitude in Egypt! (Moses thought this about himself when he was forty years old. You can read Stephen's words in Acts chapter 7, and he says that Moses thought his people would realize God was going to use him to rescue them. But they didn't.)

So, Moses is living in the palace, and his family is in the slave neighborhood. Their lives are vastly different now, but I'm sure that they tried to stay in touch somehow. We've seen that Miriam is clever and resourceful -- I expect she found ways to get messages in and out of the palace!

We'll study more of Miriam's life next time . . .


Austin Towers said...

I do wonder whether the Pharaoh's daughter ever cottoned on to the relationship between Moses and his "nurse maid"!? She would have had to have been very careful!! Miriam was very quick witted indeed!

Katie Isabella said...

I loved this. Of course I remember it well but I love tp read more in the manner of studying.