Miriam, Sister of Moses
By Steph Nickel
Miriam was the sister of Moses. She was also a courageous young woman who played a critically important part in his survival as a new born child.
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Exodus 2:1-10 is the beginning of the story of Moses. “Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him. Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her young women walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her servant woman, and she took it. When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby was crying. She took pity on him and said, ‘This is one of the Hebrews’ children.’ Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, ‘Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?’ And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Go.’ So the girl went and called the child’s mother. And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, ‘Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.’ So the woman took the child and nursed him. When the child grew older, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses, ‘Because,’ she said, ‘I drew him out of the water’” (ESV).
Moses and Miriam
This is not only the beginning of Moses’s story. It is the beginning of his sister’s as well. As I understand it, this was the same sister, Miriam, who would later lead the Hebrew people in praise and worship after Moses had led them out of captivity. And if that’s the case, she is the same sister who would speak out against Moses and would suffer from leprosy for a time. Even those God uses mightily make big mistakes from time to time.
From a fairly young age, Moses’s sister was courageous. (I will refer to her as “Moses’s sister” and “Miriam” throughout this devotional.) You would think she would be fearful of the Egyptians, especially Pharaoh’s daughter. After all, instead of rescuing her brother, this woman could have had him killed. A decree had been issued that no Hebrew baby boy was to be allowed to live. This is why Moses’s mother hid him in a basket.
Miriam could simply have gone back to her mother and said her baby brother was fine, but she took yet another step of courage. She offered to find a Hebrew woman to care for the baby at least until he was weaned, likely much older than the average age in today’s culture. Moses’s family was reunited for a time. God is, indeed, gracious.
Did Miriam know who her brother would grow up to be and what he would do? Not likely.
Did she use her God-given gifts and abilities to lead others? She did so when she was young and years later, as she led her people in praise and worship.
Did she always get it right after she witnessed how God had used her brother—both her brothers actually—to deliver their people from captivity? Definitely not. As I mentioned, she spoke out against Moses and suffered the consequences.
What are some of the ways Miriam was just like us? And what are some of the lessons we can learn from her?
Timing is important.
We’re not sure how long Miriam stood at a distance waiting to see what would happen to her brother. Perhaps she was pleased to see Pharaoh’s daughter or perhaps she became fearful that the woman would have her brother killed. In either case, Miriam waited until the time seemed right for her to approach Pharaoh’s daughter because …
Sometimes God Calls us to Speak Up
It often takes courage, but there are times that is exactly what God is calling us to do. Is there a situation in your life in which you believe you are to speak up? Ask the Lord for wisdom, the right words, and the courage to speak them. Also, ask that the Lord to prepare the hearer, that they would be receptive, as was Pharaoh’s daughter.
The Lord gave Miriam’s mother wisdom, hiding the child, and thus, giving him a chance at life. God gave Pharaoh’s daughter compassion. And He gave Miriam courage. Because of all these factors, Miriam and her family had cherished time with Moses without fear of him being taken from them—at least not while he was a baby.
Still, years may pass before we see the bigger picture, God’s plan unfolding.
Was Miriam confident Moses would remember his biological family? Did she know her brother would grow up to be their deliverer? Did she know God had a plan and that she was part of that plan? Sometimes it isn’t until years later that we see how the Lord is working out His plans in and through us. Perhaps, you’re struggling right now, not knowing how God can use your circumstances to honour Himself and bless others. We can rest assured that Ephesians 1:11 is true. He does, indeed, “work all things according to the counsel of his will” (ESV).
Miriam Had Responsibilities and Lessons to Learn.
Miriam used her gifts and abilities and God accomplished more than she likely dreamt of. Are you willing to use the abilities He has given you and leave the results in His hands? It is truly amazing what He can accomplish through each of us.
May we learn from Miriam’s story.
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio. Read and hear more from Steph Nickel on the contributor’s page or at Steph Nickel’s Eclectic Interests.
Stephanie’s show, “Family Life Lessons,” airs from Monday to Friday on HopeStreamRadio.
More About Moses and Miriam
Images courtesy of:
Woman on Mountaintop – Free-Photos
Open Hand – Foundry
Pyramids – TheDigitalArtist
Reeds – TomMarc
Jennifer Willcock – Disappointed Part 3
Jesse Gentile – Increasing Our Faith
Jodi Greenstreet – Camp Li Lo Li
John Bjorlie – Being Witnesses
HopeStreamRadio has been a huge blessing to me. Since I moved away from an area that had a lot of good Christian radio I have been looking for a station that I could listen to and be encouraged by. HSR has filled that void and it has also been exciting to be a part of the team that contributes to HSR.Mike from MS