Moses’ brother Aaron and Miriam we siblings and were also leaders of the people. They helped Moses with his duties but they had become jealous of him. They accused Moses saying that he was not the only one who could speak for God. This effort was to take away some of Moses; authority. Arron and Miriam were also upset because Moses had married a foreign woman. To falsely accuse someone is a serious thing to do. The name Satan means “the accuser.” It is the devils nature to go around and accuse people and it is a very wrong attitude for a person to have. (1 Timothy 3:11)
Arron and Miriam also did important work for God. Arron was the High Priest and Miriam was a prophet. (Exodus 15:20) Still they were jealous because Moses was God’s special servant.
Moses was a very humble man and some say the most humble man in the Bible. Moses was not proud of His special position as a servant of God. Humility towards God means that one is completely dependent upon God for all that they do. Moses knew that God was the power and strength that Moses had to lead the people of the Israelite nation. Moses knew that it would be impossible for him to do the work without God’s help. Moses talked to God often and asked Him what He wanted him to do.
In the eyes of God Moses was considered a great man and this was because he was humble towards God. God also considered people great when they served others above themselves. (Matthew 23:11) Jesus was a humble servant and He came to display that attitude that we could learn from Him and have the same attitude. (Philippians 2:5-11)
Now Aaron and Miriam were opposing Moses and saying wicked things against him. When the leaders of people sin this hurts the people that they are responsible for and they can pick up the same attitude. People who are in positions of leadership should remember that they are held to a higher accountability.
God came to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and spoke to them in a poetic way. (Verse 6-8) God said that He spoke to prophets by dreams and visions. Then God told Aaron and Miriam that He spoke to Moses differently. God would speak to Moses as a person to person, this is what the words face to face mean in verse 8.
This was not Aaron and Miriam’s business and they had no right to complain about this special relationship that God had with Moses. God placed judgment against Aaron and Miriam by punishing Miriam. Miriam was given a disease that affects the skin called leprosy. But God did not punish Aaron in the same way. It is probable that Miriam was the more guilty one in this offence. In verse 1 Miriam’s name is listed first which is unusual because she is a woman. Which may point to the fact that she was the instigator of the sin.
Moses was upset that Miriam was punished in this way. Aaron asked Moses to help Miriam and he prayed immediately to God. It was a short prayer but it was sincere. God answered Moses and cured Miriam. Because of the law for unclean people who had leprosy they had to stay outside of the camp for a week. (Leviticus 13:1-6) All the people then knew that Miriam had done something bad in the eyes of God.
The camp was unable to travel further until Miriam was allowed back into the camp. People who had leprosy we not allowed to be around other people. And after the leprosy had gone they had to stay away for seven days before they could return amongst the people. People who had leprosy also had to purify themselves in a special ceremony. (Leviticus 14:1-32)
This shame that Miriam had to endure should have been a warning to the other people. They should have realized that it is wrong to say evil things about other people. This is what the devil does as he is the accuser of God’s people. Also it is wrong to be jealous of other people’s positions. We should be content to do the work that God has given us to do.