Numbers 12

1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married; for he had married a Cushite woman. 2 They said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only with Moses? Hasn’t he spoken also with us?” And the LORD heard it. 3 Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all the men who were on the surface of the earth. 4 The LORD spoke suddenly to Moses, to Aaron, and to Miriam, “You three come out to the Tent of Meeting!” The three of them came out. 5 The LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the Tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward. 6 He said, “Now hear my words. If there is a prophet amongst you, I, the LORD, will make myself known to him in a vision. I will speak with him in a dream. 7 My servant Moses is not so. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him, I will speak mouth to mouth, even plainly, and not in riddles; and he shall see the LORD’s form. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant, against Moses?” 9 The LORD’s anger burnt against them; and he departed. 10 The cloud departed from over the Tent; and behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. Aaron looked at Miriam, and behold, she was leprous. 11 Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, please don’t count this sin against us, in which we have done foolishly, and in which we have sinned. 12 Let her not, I pray, be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb.” 13 Moses cried to the LORD, saying, “Heal her, God, I beg you!” 14 The LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, shouldn’t she be ashamed seven days? Let her be shut up outside of the camp seven days, and after that she shall be brought in again.” 15 Miriam was shut up outside of the camp seven days, and the people didn’t travel until Miriam was brought in again. 16 Afterward the people traveled from Hazeroth, and encamped in the wilderness of Paran.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–9

The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as well as by the people. The pretence was, that he had married a foreign wife; but probably their pride was hurt, and their envy stirred up, by his superior authority. Opposition from our near relations, and from religious friends, is most painful. But this is to be looked for, and it will be well if in such circumstances we can preserve the gentleness and meekness of Moses. Moses was thus fitted to the work he was called to. God not only cleared Moses, but praised him. Moses had the spirit of prophecy in a way which set him far above all other prophets; yet he that is least in the kingdom of heaven, is greater than he; and our Lord Jesus infinitely excels him, Heb 3:1. Let Miriam and Aaron consider whom it was they insulted. We have reason to be afraid of saying or doing any thing against the servants of God. And those are presumptuous indeed who are not afraid to speak evil of dignities, 2Pe 2:10. The removal of God’s presence is the surest and saddest token of God’s displeasure. Woe to us, if he depart! he never departs, till by sin and folly we drive him from us.

Verses 10–16

The cloud departed, and Miriam became leprous. When God goes, evil comes: expect no good when God departs. Her foul tongue, as Bishop Hall says, was justly punished with a foul face. Aaron, as priest, was judge of the leprosy. He could not pronounce her leprous without trembling, knowing himself to be equally guilty. But if she was thus punished for speaking against Moses, what will become of those who sin against Christ? Aaron, who joined his sister in speaking against Moses, is forced for himself and his sister, to beseech him, and to speak highly of him whom he had so lately blamed. Those who trample upon the saints and servants of God, will one day be glad to make court to them. It is well when rebukes produce confession of sin and repentance. Such offenders, though corrected and disgraced, shall be pardoned. Moses made it appear, that he forgave the injury done him. To this pattern of Moses, and that of our Saviour, who said, “Father, forgive them,” we must conform. A reason is given for Miriam’s being put out of the camp for seven days; because thus she ought to accept the punishment of her sin. When under the tokens of God’s displeasure for sin, it becomes us to take shame to ourselves. This hindered the people’s progress in their march forward towards Canaan. Many things oppose us, but nothing so hinders us in the way to heaven, as sin.

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