CUSHITE: Sig "black". Ref either to Elam (land of black
mountains) (Gen 2:13), to Ethiopia (land of black people) (Jer 13:23; 38:7), or
to Midian (land of black tents) (cp Hab 3:7).
FOR HE HAD MARRIED A CUSHITE: Miriam and Aaron prob
feel Moses has fallen too much under influence of in-laws: Num 10:29-32; cp Exo
18:17-24 with Num 11:16,17. Prob ref to Zipporah -- in which case Miriam and
Aaron have no basis to condemn. She was not an alien! (Cp attitude of
near-kinsman to Ruth the Moabitess.)
"Strange choice of Moses, but how much more strange the choice
of him who is a prophet like unto Moses, and greater than he! Our Lord, who is
fair as the lily, has entered into marriage union with one who confesses herself
to be black, because the sun has looked upon her [Song 1:6]. It is the wonder of
angels that the love of Jesus should be set upon poor, lost, guilty men. Each
believer must, when filled with a sense of Jesus' love, be also overwhelmed with
astonishment that such love should be lavished on an object so utterly unworthy
of it. Knowing as we do our secret guiltiness, unfaithfulness, and
black-heartedness, we are dissolved in grateful admiration of the matchless
freeness and sovereignty of grace. Jesus must have found the cause of his love
in his own heart; he could not have found it in us, for it is not there. Even
since our conversion we have been black, though grace has made us comely... Most
tender and faithful Husband of our souls, pursue thy gracious work of conforming
us to thine image, till thou shalt present even us poor Ethiopians unto thyself,
without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing. Moses met with opposition because
of his marriage, and both himself and his spouse were the subjects of jealousy.
Can we wonder if this vain world opposes Jesus and his spouse, and especially
when great sinners are converted? for this is ever the Pharisee's ground of
objection: 'This man receiveth sinners' [Luk 15:2]. Still is the old cause of
quarrel revived, 'Because he had married an Ethiopian woman' " (CHS).
13 murmurings: Exo 5:21; 14:10; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2; 32:1; Num
11:1,4; 12:2; 14:2; 16:3; 20:2; 21:5. Cp Joh 6:41-43. Those who murmur without
cause are soon given cause to murmur.
...SPOKEN THROUGH US?: Yes, He had spoken through Aaron
(Exo 4:14-17; 7:1,2). And Miriam had prophesied at Red Sea (Exo 15). But Aaron
had only been a spokesman for Moses (Exo 4:14). Moses' reluctance to speak for
himself leaves lingering effects.
HUMBLE: "Anah" = lit, to suffer travail, affliction
(WGos 169). Therefore, not a man more disposed by nature to be humble than any
other man -- not a "milksop"! Rather, a man who had endured much affliction, who
had learned his lessons well. A man who had "learned obedience from what he
suffered" (Heb 5:8).
But how did Moses react, he who years before had felled an
Egyptian with one blow of his fist? Did he pour out a torrent of indignation,
assuring himself that he had just cause to be angry? Did he show them the door
of the tent and bid them mind their own business? Did he call on God to strike
them down in his anger?
Nothing of the sort. He in his bearing up under this attack
reminds us of Christ in the judgment-hall, who, "when he was reviled, reviled
not again". Was Moses showing weakness? No. It was an exhibition of colossal
strength. It is the weak man who gives blow for blow; who blurts out his wrath;
who cannot control the passion of his spirit. Only the strong man can be
perfectly still under provocation, holding himself in, and turning the vehemence
of his spirit into the heat of an intense love. Moses became the intercessor
before God on Miriam's behalf.
For us, it is only as we claim the meekness of Christ that we
can exhibit this kind of noble humility. This was not possible for Moses as it
is for us. The humility of Jesus did not forbid his proposing himself as our
model for meekness: "Learn of me," he said, "for I am meek and lowly in heart"
(Mat 11:28,29). The likeness of the dove that rested on him, and the lamb to
which he was compared, were the emblems of his heart.
So in moments of provocation there is nothing better than to
turn to him and claim his calm, sweet silence, his patience and meekness,
praying, "My Lord, may I exhibit a noble humility in your name."
THEN THE LORD CAME DOWN IN A PILLAR OF CLOUD: There are
five occasions when the Glory of the LORD appeared in Num; on each occasion it
is because of the rebellion of the people: Num 12:5; 14:10; 16:19,42; 20:6.
FAITHFUL IN ALL MY HOUSE: As such Moses typ Christ (Heb
3:2-5). Moses was the most trusted servant. But Christ was also the son and
MIRIAM: Who must have been the prime mover in the
rebellion (cp order, v 1).
LEPROSY: Since she had objected to Moses marrying a
black woman, she is made doubly white!
No covering, no veil, no excuse, no hope, exposed. She stood
in the docket -- guilty. Her brother turned and saw his sister who had always
been such a dynamic influence in his life condemned to a life "outside the
camp". Doomed, so to speak, from all further intercourse with family, tribe --
dying before his eyes. We may want to minimize leprosy as just a skin disorder,
but it was as life threatening then as it can be now. Her nose, her fingers and
toes would lose their circulation and literally rot off. She would emit an odor
of death which only the strong willed could tolerate. And at last alone, and
forsaken, she would die.
Vv 11,12: There is no record of what went on in Aaron's mind,
except his next utterance to Moses: "Please, my Lord, do not hold against us the
sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let us (note the awareness of guilt)
be like a stillborn infant coming from its mother's womb with its flesh half
eaten away!" (Medically, this sadly still happens today.)
O GOD, PLEASE HEAL HER: In an Israelite context of
'cause and effect' religion Moses desperately cried out, not with some of the
more common names of Deity but with "EL" -- the very Creator of all living. Both
men stood glued to the spot as they watched their sister, as she looked aghast
at her body being ravaged by that dread disease of leprosy.
We may be awed by the experience of 'sin in the flesh', raw
and ungarnished, without benefit of the niceties of societal trappings.
Henceforth to be known as "Miriam the Leper". More likely to have her bones to
remain in the Wilderness wanderings. What dread?
The "sin" had been in v 1 where Miriam and Aaron thought
presumptuously of Moses, and now it is he who goes to the Father and begs for
her, the big sister, to be "healed". Echoes of Isa 53: "All we like sheep have
gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on
him the iniquity of us all."
Sometimes the enormity of sin can be so overwhelming that we
are stymied, we can't move. Then is when agape love comes to play, the ability
to pray for and with one another is without limit. "There is a friend closer
than a brother."
Cp Christ, who could heal leprosy immediately (Mar
THE PEOPLE DID NOT MOVE...: The sin of one brother or
sister may set back the progress of an entire congregation.
Forgiveness there is, but not without a gradual washing of the
event from all Israel, for this was not a first-time event. For 7 days "the
woman" was to be "absent from the meeting". Meanwhile all forward activity
ceased until one of their own was reconciled to their God. And at last Miriam
"was brought in again." What a poignant expression, filled with the very essence
of salvation through our Lord and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, as we are
learning how to repent and be a better reflection of the Glory of the Father
through suffering. "Open ye the gates that the King of Glory may come in" as
manifested in one sinner who repents.
Each sin is a "murmur" and reaps a "discipline" else we are
not loved... "Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes
everyone he accepts as a son... "Our fathers disciplined us for a little while
as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in
his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on,
however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have
been trained by it" (Heb 12: 6,10-11).
Cp Deu 1:22: This was first suggested by the people.