Faith and Healing: Part 1 – Bible Study

Numbers 12

[1] Then Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married; for he had married an Ethiopian woman. [2] So they said, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it. [3] (Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.)

[4] Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tabernacle of meeting!” So the three came out. [5] Then the Lord came down in the pillar of cloud and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam. And they both went forward.

[6] Then He said, “Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. [7] Not so with My servant Moses; He is faithful in all My house. [8] I speak with him face to face, Even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?”

[9] So the anger of the Lord was aroused against them, and He departed. [10] And when the cloud departed from above the tabernacle, suddenly Miriam became leprous, as white as snow. Then Aaron turned toward Miriam, and there she was, a leper. [11] So Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord! Please do not lay this sin on us, in which we have done foolishly and in which we have sinned. [12] Please do not let her be as one dead, whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb!”

[13] So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying, “Please heal her, O God, I pray!”

[14] Then the Lord said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, would she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp seven days, and afterward she may be received again. [15] So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.

COMMENTARY

The chapter opens with a sibling rivalry over a wholly private matter: marriage. The disapproval of the marriage seems to be an entirely feminine complaint; Miriam being the leader of this opposition, but swaying Aaron to her side.

The disapproval from Miriam over Moses marrying the Cushite woman didn’t seem to draw God’s attention, but rather the Lord took notice when Miriam exalted herself to be equal-to her brother.

“Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us also?” And the Lord heard it.

Following this God calls Miriam and Aaron before his judgment seat and states that He speaks to His prophets in visions and dreams. This is taken by some commentators that Aaron had visions and Miriam had dreams, since she confirms with her own words that the Lord had also spoken to both she and Aaron. But Moses was above that and God spoke to Him ‘face-to-face’.

Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?

This incident led Miriam, though not Aaron, to become leprous. God likened it to spitting in her face and shaming her.

Miriam’s Faults

  • Rebellion Against God’s Servant
  • Instigating Rebellion
  • Unafraid to Speak Against God’s Servant
  • Pride / Haughty Spirit
  • Envy
  • Presumptuous
  • Self-willed

Compare to:

2 Peter 2:10-11 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. [11] Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

Though no Christian wants to be faced with the prospect that God has spit in their face, we are certainly not above Miriam. The anger of the Lord was even kindled against Moses at the Waters of Meribah [Numbers 20:24] and the Lord thought to destroy Aaron for the Golden Calf [Deuteronomy 9:20].

However, the short duration of Miriam’s punishment, attests to God’s great mercy and forgiveness, and a promise of healing. However, like any parent, children have to suffer the consequences of their actions otherwise they won’t learn.

God will sometimes use health trials as a form of spiritual correction; but just because we are being chastened by the Lord doesn’t mean he has neglected mercy and forgiveness.

In self-examination, we should analyze our lives and consider if we have acted or committed any of the same faults as Miriam and strive to overcome those faults of rebellion; pride; envy; and self-will. And in the same manner, reflect on the nature of our disease or illness, and its effects on our daily lives.

Leprosy was the just punishment for her sin. In her haughty exaggeration of the worth of her own prophetic gift, she had placed herself on a par with Moses, the divinely appointed head of the whole nation, and exalted herself above the congregation of the Lord. For this she was afflicted with a disease which shut her out of the number of the members of the people of God, and thus actually excluded from the camp; so that she could only be received back again after she had been healed, and by a formal purification.

Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament

Leviticus 14:8 “And he that is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, and shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean: and after that he shall come into the camp, and shall tarry abroad out of his tent seven days.”

To note: after Miriam was cleansed, she would have had to shave off all her hair which would have been a humiliation.

1 Corinthians 11:13-15 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

So while she may have been cleansed, there would have been prolonged implications.


As Matthew Henry’s Commentary remarks, But if she was thus punished for speaking against Moses, what will become of those who sin against Christ? . . . It is well when rebukes produce confession of sin and repentance. Such offenders, though corrected and disgraced, shall be pardoned.

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