And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. They disapproved of this separation because they considered her to be outstandingly righteous, much as a dark-skinned person stands out among light-skinned people—hence the reference to Tzipora as a "Cushite". Afterward, Miriam is left with bodily tzara'at, which according to Jewish sources is a divine punishment for slander. 12:1). 34:10). We can prove that by tracing their lineages in scripture. Zipporah, Moses’ wife, was a Midianite woman. Rashi tells us that Moses had divorced his wife: How did she [Miriam] know that Moses had separated from his wife? Later, as the Israelites wander through the desert in search of the Promised Land, the midrash tells us that a well of water followed Miriam and quenched the people's thirst. Some say this identifies her as a descendant of Noah’s grandson Cush. The text reads, "Miriam died there, and was buried there. 12:1). Miriam had godly parents who trusted the God of Israel, however, Egypts Pharoah hated her people. ", In Jewish folk-religious tradition this abrupt transition between her passing and the lack of water was explained by postulating a "well of Miriam" that dried up when she died. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin suggests this difference stems from the Hebrew verb used to describe their comments about Moses' wife. It has been suggested that since according to the Hebrew Bible anyone with tzara'at was tamei (Leviticus 13–14), Aaron was spared this punishment in order not to interrupt his duties as High Priest. Moses Wife: The Ethiopian Woman. (NIV) Here Moses is said to have a wife that is Cushite. It is feminine -- ve'teddaber ("and she spoke") -- indicating that Miriam was the one who initiated the conversation against Moses (Telushkin, 130). However, this was after his time on Sinai, when he had become entirely holy, so it was too late to consummate the marriage. Numbers 12:1. Moses Had A Black Wife. [22] Therefore, even according to Josephus, Moses' first marriage to Tharbis as military leader of Egypt terminated long before his later marriage to Tzipora as fugitive from Egypt, such that the Cushite wife of Moses mentioned in the Torah after the Exodus appears to be Tzipora, as explained above. As you observed, we hear earlier of Moses marrying the daughter of Jethro the Midianite. Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife, for he had married a Cushite (Numbers 12:1, NIV). [28], Miriam is a popular figure among some Jewish feminists. The princess agrees and Miriam brings none other than her own mother to care for Moses. I assumed they were kidding when they called this book “Numbers.” But no. In response to Miriam’s criticism, God does not get angry at Moses; he gets angry at Miriam. Upon seeing Miriam's punishment Aaron asks Moses to speak to God on her behalf. … [23] However, Friedman's primary interest is not in the identity of the Cushite woman, but rather in the outcome of this story which establishes Moses' superiority over Aaron as an example of his claim that rival priesthoods created or publicized tales in order to legitimize their respective claims to privilege and power. Moses has commanded Pharaoh to let his people go and God has sent the ten plagues down upon Egypt. The former Hebrew slaves have crossed the Red Sea and the waters have crashed down upon the Egyptian soldiers that were pursuing them. Miriam and Aaron are instructed to step forward and God explains to them that Moses is different from other prophets: What God seems to be saying in this text is that whereas God appears to other prophets in visions, with Moses God speaks "face to face, clearly and not in riddles" (Numbers 12:6-9). [6]:71, The Torah describes Miriam and Aaron as being rebuked by God for criticizing Moses on account of his "Cushite" wife, after which Miriam is punished for a week with tzara’at ("leprosy", Numbers 12). The idea that Moses had a black wife apparently comes from Numbers 12:1 which says Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of his Cushite wife. However, Numbers 12:1 speaks of Moses’ wife not as a Midianite, but rather as a Cushite. In their merit they received three great gifts: the Well [Miriam], the Clouds of Glory [Aaron] and the Manna [Moses]." The criticism has to do with Moses’ marriage and Moses’ authority. Elijah's Cup and Miriam's Cup During Passover Seder, Hebrew Names for Girls and Their Meanings, The Order and Meaning of the Passover Seder. 24:9) Yet the Torah’s account of this event is rather obscure. She is just referred to as "his sister" or "Moses's sister.". 23, p. 24b", Miriam's Cup: A New Ritual for the Passover Seder, ibn Abdullah ibn Abdul-Muttalib ibn Hashim, Current Ummah of Islam (Ummah of Muhammad), https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Miriam&oldid=996540113, Articles with unsourced statements from June 2016, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Mother Abiona or Amtelai the daughter of Karnebo, Slayers of Saleh's she-camel (Qaddar ibn Salif and Musda' ibn Dahr). She was also a prophetess in her own right. The Bible does not explicitly say that Moses had more than one wife. Zipporah was a worshiper of the true God. They also discuss how God has spoken to them too, implying that they are unhappy with the status quo between themselves and their younger brother. Using interpretations from the documentary hypothesis, he notes that this story, which he calls "Snow-White Miriam", was authored by the Elohist who he claims was from, or supported, the Shiloh priesthood, and thus promoted this tale to assert Moses’ superiority over Aaron and thereby belittle the Aaronid priesthood in Judah. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin suggests this difference stems from the Hebrew verb used to describe their comments about Moses' wife. This usage of the word Cushite is non-pejorative and is often used in Jewish sources as a term for someone unique and outstanding. The only justification they could find for Moses' celibacy was in order to maintain his prophetic state. While the Israelites were in the wilderness, Miriam and Aaron began to speak against Moses because of his Cushite wife. 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