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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Numbers 12

Verses 1-16


The Jealousy of Miriam and Aaron

In this scene Miriam is the chief actor: the punishment falls on her alone. Aaron seems to have been led away by her (cp. Exodus 32:22-25). The controversy arose in connexion with Moses’ marriage with an Ethiopian, but the sequel, to which no reference is made to this matter, shows that the real reason of the strife is the jealousy of Miriam and Aaron over the superior position of their younger brother (Numbers 12:2, Numbers 12:6-9).

1. The Ethiopian woman] Heb. ’the Cushite woman.’ This can hardly be Zipporah, who was a Midianite (Exodus 2:16, Exodus 2:21). Moses, it appears, had married again. Marriage with the Canaanites was forbidden (Exodus 34:16), but not with the Egyptians (see Deuteronomy 23:7-8).

2. Miriam is called a prophetess in Exodus 15:20: see note there and cp. Exodus 4:14-17.

3. Moses made no retort to the criticism, thus exhibiting true greatness.

6-8. The superior favour shown here to Moses consists (1) in the direct manner in which God reveals His will to him, and (2) in his position of general authority.

12. Leprosy was a living death, and contact with a leper involved the same defilement as with a dead body; see Leviticus 13:45.

14. The prayer is heard, but Miriam is obliged to submit to the customary seclusion and purification, in order that the people may know of her sin and punishment, and take warning.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Numbers 12". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/numbers-12.html. 1909.