Beginning of the End


Sin of Jealousy

Moses realized his own weakness and made God his counselor, but Aaron thought of himself more highly, trusted less in God, and had failed in the matter of the idol worship at Sinai. Miriam and Aaron, blinded by jealousy and ambition, said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” BOE 187.1

Miriam found reason to complain in events that God had especially directed. The marriage of Moses had been upsetting to her. It was an offense to her family and national pride that he would choose a woman of another nation instead of taking a wife from among the Hebrews. She treated Zipporah with obvious disrespect. BOE 187.2

Though called a “Cushite woman,” the wife of Moses was a Midianite and so was a descendant of Abraham. She was different from the Hebrews in that her skin was somewhat darker. Though not an Israelite, Zipporah worshipped the true God. She had a timid, quiet personality and was greatly distressed when she saw suffering. This is the reason that Moses, when on his way to Egypt, agreed to have her return to Midian. BOE 187.3

When Zipporah rejoined her husband in the wilderness, she saw that his burdens were wearing away his strength, and she told her fears to Jethro, who suggested a way to make Moses’ burdens lighter. This was the main reason that Miriam did not like Zipporah. Miriam thought that Moses’ wife was the reason that she and Aaron had supposedly been ignored. If Aaron had stood firmly for the right, he might have stopped Miriam’s evil, but instead of showing Miriam the sinfulness of her conduct, he sympathized with her and eventually shared her jealousy. BOE 187.4

Moses bore their accusations in uncomplaining silence. He “was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth,” and this is why Moses was given more divine wisdom and guidance than anyone else. BOE 187.5

God had chosen Moses. Miriam and Aaron, by their complaining, were guilty of disloyalty not only to their appointed leader, but to God Himself. “Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam.” Their claim to be prophets was not denied, but a closer communion had been granted to Moses. With him God spoke face to face. “‘Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?’ So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed.” As evidence of God’s disapproval, Miriam “became leprous, as white as snow.” Aaron was spared from leprosy, but was severely rebuked in Miriam’s punishment. Now, their pride humbled in the dust, Aaron confessed their sin and pleaded that his sister might not be left to die of that hideous, deadly disease. BOE 187.6

In answer to the prayers of Moses, the leprosy was cleansed, but Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days. The whole camp of Israel stayed in Hazeroth, waiting for her return. BOE 187.7

This display of the Lord’s disapproval was designed to stop the growing spirit of discontent and rebellion. Envy is one of the most satanic traits that can exist in the human heart. Envy is what first caused unhappiness and conflict in heaven, and giving in to it has caused endless evil in the world. BOE 188.1

The Bible teaches us to not carelessly accuse those whom God has called to be His ambassadors. “Do not receive an accusation against an elder except from two or three witnesses” (1 Timothy 5:19). God, who has placed on some the responsibility of being leaders and teachers of His people will hold people accountable for the way they treat His servants. The judgment given to Miriam should be a rebuke to all who give in to jealousy and complain against those on whom God has given the responsibility of His work. BOE 188.2