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Numbers 20: Miriam’s Death

Original Publication Date
April 16, 2016
Updated
Jan 10, 2023 1:36 AM
Tags
NumbersChapter Study
Bible References
Numbers 20:1
Status
Done
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Table of Contents
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This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on April 16, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.

Introduction

In the Bible, the deaths of people are only recorded in detail for those who were of importance. Even people like Adam and Noah are given only a short verse about their death; usually these verses merely state that the person died and how old the person was at the time of their death. For a select few, we are given the details of where they died and where they are buried. Like Sarah and Rachel, Miriam is one of those people (though it is still only one verse). Interestingly, there seems to me more information on important women of the Bible that one would be lead to believe.

The Death of Miriam

Numbers 20 brings us to the details concerning death of Miriam, Moses' sister. Though Miriam is in the background for much of the narrative, she plays a vital role in the exodus and is one of the strongest female characters in the Bible. We are first introduced to her as the watchful sister of Moses who sees him to safety as he floats down the Nile into the arms of the pharaoh's daughter. Miriam is also the first to be described as a prophetess and was likely responsible for teaching the women of the nation about God. We know that she was a strong minded and important figure because she had no problem speaking up when she felt Moses was in the wrong in regards to his marriage with an Ethiopian woman (even if she was later chastised).

Miriam dies in the first month while the Israelites are in the desert of Bin and Kadesh. Many cite this as being exactly 1 year prior to entering Canaan,[1][2] though I can't find the scriptural evidence to support this. Likely, people are using the list of locations and times to determine the year, but none of the sources I've seen go into great detail. Regardless, the fact that we are given a verse dedicated to Miriam's death proves she was an influential woman in the Israelite community and in the grand scheme of God's plans.

Of the three siblings, Miraim is the first to die. We will see in the next few verses that after her death Moses and Aaron seem to lose their faith. Although it is not explicitly stated that her death is the cause of their doubt, it seems likely, which further proves her importance to the brothers.

References and Footnotes

  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 266. 2014
  2. Nissan Mindel. "Aaron and Miriam". Chabad. 2016

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