Meet Miriam, smart kid, singer, jealous sister…
“While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married (for he had indeed married a Cushite woman); and they said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.”
In the Old Testament we see 3 chapters in the life of Miriam.
Chapter 1: When Moses’s mum is fearing for his life she sends him in a basket in the reeds to float away to safety. It is a poetic act of desperation from a woman driven to it by an appalling, vindictive regime. It’s down to Moses’s sister to be levelheaded and practical. When much of the world is forced into becoming refugees, trying to hold fractured lives and families together - how many young women have had to become wise before their time and shoulder so much? Miriam, followed her brother down the river and saw where he ended up, and who found him, and came up with a plan to offer her mother as a nurse for the child, saving his life and restoring some unity to the family (see Exodus 2: 1-10).
We should also remember Shiphrah and Puah the similarly quick thinking midwives. When they were instructed by the Egyptian authorities to kill all newborn Hebrew boys they concocted a story about Hebrew women giving birth so vigorously that they were being born before they could get to them! One can imagine the flummoxed bureaucrat not knowing how to deal with having a conversation about ins and outs of all of that and waving them off to stem any more discussion of fluids and processes… (see Exodus 1: 8-22).
Chapter 2: In what I call ‘The Red Sea Sessions’ Miriam sings a song of triumph. Here she is riding high with her brother - who is helping to lead restoration and freedom for all her people (see Exodus 15: 20-21).
Chapter 3: We catch up with a resentful Miriam, suspicious of Moses’s new wife. If Moses and Miriam and cousin Aaron are charismatic, precocious youngsters who go on to sing songs and become heroes of their culture we can draw parallels with the disintegration of the Beatles, The Beachboys, Fleetwood Mac, The Jackson 5, The Libertines, One Direction… The fallouts, the acrimony, the recriminations.
What Miriam gives us - in just a few verses - is a brilliantly complex character. Her’s is not a simple tale of rags to riches, or of romantic adventure, or of redemption. God uses her and yet she still has hangups and issues. Her emotional struggle comes as a twist later in the tale, not as something she has to get out of the way before she can do what she needs to do. She’s a real, flawed person, and God works through her. There’s hope for all of us whether we be refugees, pop stars or part of an estranged family.
Thanks for weaving me into your story
even if I go off on my own subplot sometimes,
you give me character
and I want to read on