“Do Not Cause The Majority To Suffer For Your Sins!”(Num.12:1-15).
The Old Testament gives evidences of sibling feuds that sometimes affects the rest of the community. Jealousy caused Cain to kill his brother Abel. Jacob stole Esau’s birthright and blessings.
Today our focus is the jealousies of Aaron and Miriam against their brother Moses.
Aaron and Miriam talked against Moses for taking a Cushite woman as wife. That accusation was a flimsy excuse for we know that Moses’wife Zipporah was the daughter of Jethro, the Midianite priest who groomed and mentored Moses.
The real reason for the jealousy is, “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he also spoken through us?”
It is true that Miriam was a prophetess in her own right(Ex.15:20-21), and Aaron was Moses’ mouthpiece. To God, between Moses and Aaron, Moses was like God and Aaron was Moses to God. Aaron had this prestigious position only because when God commissioned Moses he persistently argued that he was not an eloquent speaker to stand before Pharaoh (Ex.4:10-17).
God was angry when they spoke against Moses. They were right in that the LORD spoke to them too. But Moses had a special relationship with God, unlike all other prophets and prophetesses.
God brought them to his judgment seat and pointed out to them that they were wrong to speak against Moses. His anger burned against them and he left them.
Miriam became leprous. Aaron acknowledged that Moses had a special relationship with the LORD than him when instead of turning to the LORD, he rather turned to Moses and said: “Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed. Do not let her be like a stillborn infant…”
Moses cried out to the LORD to heal her, but the LORD insisted that she must serve her punishment by being confined out of the camp for seven days.
We the clergies of today have taken this text as an excuse not to curb our excesses in the way we deal with the sheep under our care. When they express their dissatisfaction against our excesses we are quick to remind them of what happened to Miriam. The issue here was not some people against Moses. It was a family feud. Siblings against sibling.
The monopoly of husband, children and relatives being the leaders of a church is another wrong example copied from this story of a chosen family.
The punishment on Miriam and not Aaron is based on partriarchy! A male dominated society where there is a different set of rules for women apart from that of men. This inequality which women still suffer even today has to be worked upon in many societies.
The worst part of the story is how the family jealousy affected the whole exodus community! “Miriam was confined out of the camp for seven days,and the people did not move on till she was brought back.”
The exodus was halted for seven days because of Miriam. We should never be happy to say, “Serves him/her right!” We should rather pray for one another and be there to uphold those who stumble or fall.
When the tortoise who was under a tree saw a hunter taking aim to kill the monkey that was high up the treetop, the tortoise alerted the snail who was crawling up the tree and nearer to the monkey to warn the monkey of the danger.
The snail asked the tortoise, “If the hunter wants to shoot the monkey, how does that concern you and I?” So saying he did not warn the monkey. The hunter shot the monkey and as it was tumbling down it swept the snail and both fell just where the tortoise was. The hunter picked all of them and put in his bag. On his way home the tortoise asked the snail, “When I asked you to warn the monkey you said it was not our concern. Now that all of us are in the hunter’s bag is it still not our concern?
Let us be one another’s keeper so that the failure of one person does not become the pain of all of us!
Prayer: Holy Spirit help me that I should not be envious of the privilege that others have. Amen!
Have a blessed day! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.