1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.You can't tell the players without a scorecard. Or with an infallible book.
2 And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.
3 (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
4 And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out.
5 And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth.
6 And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.
7 My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house.
8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?
9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
10 And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous.
11 And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned.
12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.
13 And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.
14 And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.
15 And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again.
16 And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.
Not only are we struggling to keep straight the name of Moses' father-in-law, the ethnicity and singularity of his wife now come into question. Could it be that Moses has two wives?
In the -- Book of Exodus, in the process of Moses' exile from Egypt, he begins working for Jethro as a shepherd. Consequently he meets Zipporah (meaning female/little bird), and marries her, and they have two sons, Gershom, and Eliezer.Two wives suggests two fathers-in-law, as well. Could Jethro and "Raguel"/"Reuel" be different people? I gather that Bible scholars don't think so, but my concern is what's on the page (as opposed to the history), and what's on the page is damned confusing. And, once again, rather misogynistic.
Zipporah also features in a much more curious, and much-debated, passage (Exodus 4:24-27). The passage concerning Moses and Zipporah reach an inn, contains four of the most difficult sentences in Biblical text. One possible interpretation is that something (perhaps God, perhaps an agent of God) tries to kill Moses, until Zipporah carries out a circumcision. (Other interpretations suggest that it is their son, Gershom, who is attacked.) Yet another is that Moses tried to kill his own son and only after Zipporah cut the child's foreskin, drawing blood and pain, did his anger subside.
A third reference to a wife of Moses occurs in the story of Aaron and Miriam's complaints, at Numbers 12:1, where his wife is described as a Cushite, but is not named. Since Zipporah is a Midianite, some early sources, such as Josephus in his Jewish Antiquities 2.10-11, and the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, as well as modern biblical criticism, have stated that they were different individuals, particularly since bigamy was legal, and practiced elsewhere by Jacob, a major patriarch. Nevertheless, a traditional Jewish and Christian view has been that they are both the same woman, the Cushite reference being only a metaphorical one concerning the perceived beauty of the Cushites, or the fact that the color of the Cushite was subjective, just like her beauty.
And speaking of sentences that start with "And," I'm long overdue in commenting on how many O.T. chapters begin with that conjunction. And, yes, I start a lot of sentences with "and," but this is a little too avant-garde for my taste. And it makes the Pentateuch seem like one long, run-on ramble. And so it goes....
#1: Miriam and Aaron speak ill of their brother, Moses, because of "the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman."
#2: Then they said "Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it." I'm not sure about that last sentence (the Lord presumably hears himself speak). Also, I don't recall God ever speaking to Miriam. In any case, they're jealous of Moses' special relationship with YHWH, in addition to the apparent racism or xenophobia that has them privately (well, except for God who hears that) trashtalking about Mrs. Moses.
#3: We're told (again) that "Moses was very meek." Meeker, in fact, than "all the men which were upon the face of the earth." Sure. This is the guy whose first act as a young man was a vigilante killing, who stood up to Pharaoh, and who not infrequently tells God what to do.
#4: Yahweh suddenly tells Moses, Aaron, and Miriam to join him at the tabernacle.
#5: He descended on "the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth."
#6: He asked "If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream."
#7: He says "not so" about his faithful "servant," Moses. Not sure what that means. That Moses is not a prophet? That even if he is one, God won't speak to him in a dream?
#8: "With him" (presumably, Moses), YHWH will "speak mouth to mouth" (here's a tip, your lordliness: mouth-to-ear works better), and "not in dark speeches." I take that to mean that God rides the straight-talk express with Moe, rather than confounding him with riddlesome dreams. Moses even gets to look at the Lord (this, of course, has been an on-again-off-again story element), so why, he asks, weren't his sibs afraid to dis him?
#9: Yahwah's anger percolated, and he left.
#10: As the cloud lifted, ""Miriam became leprous, white as snow." And Aaron? Unpunished, apparently. It's good to be male!
#11: "And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord..." (Was this meant as "milord"? Was he avowing that his brother is a demigod? Or was he just using Moses as a conduit, like Demi Moore kissing Whoopi Goldberg in Ghost?). Anyway, he begged not to have the "foolish" sin punished, even though he personally didn't have a mark on him. In its way, this is one of the more noble things I've read in this book — a man being deeply troubled that a vengeful, supernatural creature has grievously harmed his sister to punish some indiscreet conversation that he was a party to.
#12: Aaron doesn't want his sister to be like a grotesque, stillborn baby.
#13: Moses relays the message, begging YHWH, "Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee."
#14: The Lord asks "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days?" (I would expect the answer should be "no," but I guess I'm just not down with the whole patriarchal thing.) God says to keep her out of the camp for a week. After that, one surmises she'll be cured, but that's not stated anywhere here.
#15: So, for a week, she's kept apart from the camp.
#16: "And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran." This is a little confusing, too. In Numbers 10, the tabernacle parking-space marking clouds settled in Paran, and in Exodus 11, the people headed to Hazeroth. Are they backtracking?