The Spirit of Prophecy, vol. 1


Chapter 24—Miriam

After Moses had told the Lord that he was unable to bear the burden of the people alone, and God had directed him to choose seventy of the elders, and he had put the same Spirit upon them which was upon Moses, Aaron and Miriam were jealous because they had not been consulted in the matter. They had not felt reconciled to the act of Moses in so readily receiving the counsel of Jethro, his father-in-law. They feared that he had more influence over Moses than they had. And now, seventy elders had been chosen without their being consulted; and as they had never themselves felt the responsibility and burdens which Moses had borne for the people, they did not see any real necessity for the help of the seventy elders. “And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.” 1SP 285.1

Aaron and Miriam thought, as they had been chosen to aid Moses in the work, that they bore the burden of the work as well as Moses. And as the Lord had spoken by them, as well as by Moses, why should he complain of such heavy burdens as to need seventy of the judges and elders appointed to the work of aiding him. Moses felt his weakness. He felt the importance of the great work committed to him, as no other man had ever felt it. Aaron had shown his weakness by yielding to the people, and making a molten calf, in the absence of Moses. God had ever been Moses’ counselor. 1SP 286.1

As Miriam became jealous of Moses, she was disposed to find fault with the events of his life which God had especially overruled. She complained of Moses because he married an Ethiopian woman, instead of taking a wife from among the Hebrews. The wife of Moses was not black, but her complexion was somewhat darker than the Hebrews. She was of a timid disposition, tender-hearted, and was greatly affected upon witnessing suffering. This was the reason that Moses consented to have her return to Midian, while he was in Egypt, that she might not witness the terrific plagues which the Lord was to bring upon Egypt. After she met her husband in the wilderness, she saw that his burdens and anxieties were liable to wear away his strength, and in her distress she acquainted her father with the matter. Jethro had marked that the care of all the people was upon Moses, and therefore he counseled him to look after the religious interests of the Hebrew host, while worthy men, free from covetousness, should be selected to look after the secular concerns of the people. 1SP 286.2

After Miriam became jealous, she imagined that Aaron and herself had been neglected, and that Moses’ wife was the cause—that she had influenced the mind of her husband—that he did not consult them in important matters as much as formerly. 1SP 287.1

The Lord heard the words of murmuring against Moses, and he was displeased; for Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth. “And the Lord spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out, ye three, unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the Lord came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forth. 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. 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. And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. Let her not be as one dead.” “And Moses cried unto the Lord, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.” “And Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days; and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.” 1SP 287.2

The cloud was removed from the tabernacle because the wrath of God rested upon Miriam, and it did not return until she was removed out of the camp. God had chosen Moses, and put his Spirit upon him; and by the complaints of Miriam against God's chosen servant, she not only behaved irreverently to Moses, but toward God himself, who had chosen him. Aaron was drawn into the jealous spirit of his sister Miriam. He might have prevented the evil if he had not sympathized with her, and had presented before her the sinfulness of her conduct. But instead of this, he listened to her words of complaint. The murmurings of Miriam and Aaron are left upon record as a rebuke to all who will yield to jealousy, and complain of those upon whom God lays the burden of his work. 1SP 288.1