Jealousy of Aaron and Miriam. 1Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the Cushite woman he had married; for he had in fact married a Cushite woman.* 2They complained,* “Is it through Moses alone that the LORD has spoken? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard this. 3a Now the man Moses was very humble, more than anyone else on earth. 4So at once the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam: Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting. And the three of them went. 5Then the LORD came down in a column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called, “Aaron and Miriam.” When both came forward, 6the LORD said: Now listen to my words:
If there are prophets among you,
in visions I reveal myself to them,
in dreams I speak to them;
7Not so with my servant Moses!
Throughout my house he is worthy of trust:* b
8face to face I speak to him,c
plainly and not in riddles.
The likeness of the LORD he beholds.
Why, then, do you not fear to speak against my servant Moses? 9And so the LORD’s wrath flared against them, and he departed.
Miriam’s Punishment. 10Now the cloud withdrew from the tent, and there was Miriam,d stricken with a scaly infection, white as snow!* When Aaron turned toward Miriam and saw her stricken with snow-white scales, 11he said to Moses, “Ah, my lord! Please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed! 12Do not let her be like the stillborn baby that comes forth from its mother’s womb with its flesh half consumed.” 13Then Moses cried to the LORD, “Please, not this! Please, heal her!” 14But the LORD answered Moses: Suppose her father had spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp for seven days; afterwards she may be brought back. 15So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not start out again until she was brought back.
16After that the people set out from Hazeroth and encamped in the wilderness of Paran.
* [12:1] Cushite woman: apparently Zipporah, the Midianite, is meant; cf. Ex 2:21.
* [12:2] The apparent reason for Miriam’s and Aaron’s quarrel with their brother Moses was jealousy of his authority; his Cushite wife served only as an occasion for the dispute.
* [12:7] Worthy of trust: the text is open to a variety of interpretations. Thus, the word of Moses may be relied upon by Israel because God speaks to him directly; or, Moses alone is worthy of God’s trust in God’s household (heavenly or earthly). An alternative translation, however, is: “with all my house he is entrusted.”
* [12:10] Stricken with a scaly infection, white as snow: see note on Lv 13:1–14:47. The point of the simile lies either in the flakiness or the whiteness of snow.
c. [12:8] Ex 33:1; Dt 34:10; Sir 45:3.