Who Is Miriam in the Bible? 8 Important Lessons For Us

Miriam is one of the most remarkable role models we have from the Old Testament. But who is Miriam in the Bible? She was Moses’ older sister, a prophetess, a worshipper, and a woman of strong faith in God. 

From a young age, Miriam showed great courage in protecting her baby brother Moses, and later in her life, she was part of the team that led the people of Israel to the promised land of Canaan. 

As we go through her story, we realize that Miriam is not perfect. She got jealous of Moses and questioned God’s judgment in choosing him as a leader of the Hebrew people. She paid a heavy price for this, but through it, received forgiveness, God’s mercy, grace, and healing. 

It’s a power-packed story, and there are so many valuable lessons we can learn from Miriam. Let’s dive in! 

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old women arms raised singing to the Lord at the Red Sea

Who Is Miriam in the Bible?

Miriam was the daughter of Amram and Jochebed who were both from the tribe of Levi (the tribe of priests). The story of Miriam in the Bible starts in Exodus 2 when her parents gave birth to Moses, her brother, in a time when a decree had been made to throw all baby boys born from the Israelites into the Nile River. 

At this time the Israelites were slaves of the Egyptians, and they thought more male children would result in the Hebrew people becoming mightier than them and capable of fighting them. The Hebrew midwives were ordered to kill the baby boys when they were born or throw them into the river, but they didn’t comply with this command. 

Moses’ mother wanted to preserve her child’s life and hid him in the house for three months. When she couldn’t hide him anymore, she put him in a papyrus basket and placed it along the bank of the Nile River. Miriam was tasked with standing at a distance and watching the basket. 

Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river with her servants to bathe, noticed the basket, and took the baby she found inside. She noticed that he was a Hebrew baby, and Miriam ran to tell her that she could get a Hebrew woman to nurse her. This led to Miriam getting her mother who nursed Moses until he was older, then gave her son to Pharaoh’s daughter to raise as her own. 

Later on, Miriam reemerges when God tells Moses that He would send him to free the Israelites. Miriam witnessed the great miracles God performed through Moses in Egypt including the parting of the Red Sea on their journey to the promised land. 

When she saw that all the chariots of the Egyptian army had been destroyed, she led the women in song and dance praising the Lord for the way He had delivered His people. 

The trio which included Moses as the leader chosen by God, Aaron as the high priest, and Miriam, as a prophetess, never reached Canaan, the promised land. However, they played an important role in the difficult task of directing, managing, and leading the Israelite community through the wilderness according to God’s instructions. 

For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam.

Micah 6:4

Courageous Sister

Miriam was a young girl not older than 10 years old when her mother asked her to watch the waterproof papyrus basket where her brother lay as it floated along the bank of the Nile River. She might have been scared and may have grown tired and distracted as a young child, but she stayed focused and protective of her brother (Exodus 2:3-10). 

Because of her courage, she approached the daughter of Pharaoh who had come to the river, and found the basket with Moses in it. She came forward bravely asking if she could get one of the Hebrew women to nurse baby Moses, and the Egyptian princess named Bilthiah (Batya) agreed to her suggestion. 

She quickly went to get her own mother to come and nurse Moses. Her bravery and boldness led her to reunite her mother with Moses and saved Moses’ life in the process. 

Miriam’s Song

God asked Moses to lead the Israelites to the promised land along with his brother Aaron and sister Moses. Pharaoh initially declined this request, but after a series of plagues that tormented the Egyptians, he agreed to let them go. 

When they left, he followed them with his chariots and army. The Israelites were scared of being killed or taken back to slavery. There was the Red Sea before them and an Egyptian army behind them. God performed a miracle through Moses and parted the Red Sea so that the people of Israel crossed on dry ground.

Once they reached the other side, the Red Sea closed and all the Egyptian army who had started crossing it perished. The Israelites saw the power of God and started singing and dancing.

Miriam took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her with timbrels and dancing, praising God for His goodness, power, and deliverance. This song, known as The Song of Miriam and Moses was sung in praise and worship to God for redeeming the Israelites. It is found in Exodus 15:1-18 and is the first song recorded in the Bible. 

Miriam, the Prophetess

Miriam is one of the seven major female prophets in the Bible. She is the first woman in scripture that we read about who had this title Exodus 15:20-21. The other female prophets are Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), and “the prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3) in the Old Testament. 

Then there’s Anna (Luke 2:36) and Philip’s four daughters (Acts 21:8-9) in the New Testament. We don’t find much in the scripture about her role and gift, but she was greatly inspired by the Lord and had the gift of praise and song. 

Miriam’s Leprosy

A lot happened when the Israelites were on their way to the promised land. They saw God’s miracles, yet also questioned Moses and the God who had rescued and delivered them. In Numbers 12 Miriam and her brother Aaron, who was the high priest, started to question if Moses had really been chosen as their leader. 

And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

And they said, Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the Lord heard it.

Number 12:1-2

Aaron and Miriam got jealous and declared that the Lord had spoken to them, too. They spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman he had married. This aroused the anger of the Lord, and He called the three siblings to come to the tent of meeting. 

God came down in a pillar of cloud and spoke to them reminding them that He had chosen His servant Moses, a man who was faithful, humble, and gentle. He had entrusted Moses with His people, and no one was allowed to speak against Moses. The Lord left them and struck Miriam with leprosy. 

Aaron begged Moses to pray for her, and Moses did. As per Jewish tradition, she had to stay out of the Israelite community’s camp for seven days until she was healed. Then she was able to moved back in with her people. Miriam experienced the Lord’s healing, forgiveness, and discipline for her careless words.  

The Well of Miriam

After the leprosy, we don’t hear much about her until the time of her death. 

Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there. And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.

Numbers 20:1-2

Immediately after the death of Miriam, it was mentioned that God’s people had no water. Researchers believe that in the time they were in the wilderness, they had water because of Miriam, and her death caused the well to dry up. 

Miriam’s Well (Be’erah shel Miriam) is the name the Hebrews gave to the spring that provided water throughout the 40 years the Israelites traveled in the wilderness.

Interesting Facts About Miriam in the Bible

The meaning of Miriam’s name is “bitter” or “rebellious”. The word bitter likely reflects the circumstances when she was born. Her people were under oppression and enslaved by the Egyptians. 

She participated against the oppression her people were facing and was part of the trio that rebelled against the Egyptian leadership and led the people out of Egypt.

She is the first woman to be called a prophetess in the Bible. The historian Josephus claims that Miriam married Hur, Moses’ close friend.

8 Important Lessons From Miriam in the Bible

What lessons can we learn from Miriam in the Bible? Her story was not easy, being born in oppression and slavery, but she rose and played an important role in both infant Moses’ story and in the story of her people. These are the rich lessons we can take away from her life. 

1) Miriam in the Bible illustrates that God can use the young.

As a young girl, Miriam was used mightily in God’s plan to save her brother Moses and ensure his safety. Moses would go on to be a mighty leader of the Jewish people.  

There are other instances that we see the principle such as the young boy with five loaves of bread and two fishes who was used by Jesus Christ to feed the multitude. (John 6:5–14). Apostle Paul encouraged Timothy a young evangelist who was a missionary and led the early church not to let anyone despise him because of his young age.  

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

1 Timothy 4:12
 

2) Miriam in the Bible teaches us to refrain from complaining and gossiping.

Miriam and her brother Aaron complained about Moses’ Cushite wife. They spoke about their sibling behind his back and even questioned if God had really spoken only through him. God disciplined her for this. 

This teaches us to be content with what we have and with the roles God has given us in His kingdom. We are all members of the body of Christ, after all. 

3) The story of Miriam illustrates that there are no perfect leaders.

Miriam questioned Moses being a leader because he had married an Ethiopian woman. He had married a foreigner, something that God didn’t allow the Jewish people to do. He was not perfect in a lot of ways, but he was still God’s faithful servant. 

It’s God who qualifies those He calls, and He isn’t expecting anyone to be perfect just because they are a leader. 

It’s God who qualifies those He calls, and He isn’t expecting anyone to be perfect just because they are a leader. 

4) Miriam’s story shows the power of forgiveness, mercy, and grace.

When God struck Miriam with leprosy, Moses prayed for her healing, showing that he forgave her. God answered and healed her, showing His healing power, grace, and mercy toward her. 

There was no cure for leprosy in those days, so Miriam desperately needed healing. Her story shows us the amazing character of God as a loving and wonderful Father toward us. 

For more help growing in your walk with God, you’ll want to be sure to check out all these Practical Ways to Get Closer to God Today!

5) The story of Miriam teaches us to have an attitude of gratitude.

Miriam instantly thanked God for saving them by helping them cross the Red Sea, leading the women in praise and adoration to the Lord. She knew that all the good that happened to them was because of the Lord and gave Him all the praise. 

An attitude of thanksgiving is something the Bible encourages us to have in all situations, and Miriam is a role model for us in this. 

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

6) Miriam’s life teaches us about being proactive and courageous leaders. 

Miriam showed courage even in the face of danger. She was young, and they were in slavery, so anything could have happened to her even as she approached and spoke to Pharaoh’s daughter. 

Miriam showed bravery to ensure her brother’s survival and was proactive and quick thinking in offering the solution of her own mother to nurse the infant Moses. 

She was also proactive in leading the Israelite women in a victory song, dancing with timbrels after the crossing of the Red Sea. We don’t need to wait to be told what we need to do for those around us. In our communities and our homes, we can be proactive, make a difference, and give solutions. 

7) Miriam teaches us to have strong faith.

Miriam’s parents were both Levites and believers in the Lord. She was raised to see God perform many miracles for her family. And that faith sustained her trust in Him. She saw the Lord moving and intervening to save Moses’ life at a time when baby boys were killed, and her faith was strengthened. 

She believed the Lord could save them from oppression, and He did. Her song showed that she believed in His power and faithfulness. We should always trust and believe in the Lord’s power and presence even in tough situations. 

old women arms raised singing to the Lord text overlay about who is Miriam in the Bible

8) Miriam’s life teaches us about God’s discipline.

The Lord disciplines us because He loves us and wants us to learn valuable lessons that will help us. Like King David, who took Euriah’s wife, Bathsheba, lay with her, and killed her husband, Uriah, in battle. The Lord punished him by not healing the son David had with Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11-12). 

In the same way, the Lord struck Miriam with leprosy for being jealous of Moses and speaking against him. There are consequences for our actions whether good or bad. The Lord wants us to grow and develop, so He disciplines us accordingly. 

Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24:9

Moses’ sister Miriam was a wonderful woman and role model for us. She may not have been perfect, but she influenced those in her family and her people, as well. She was strong and courageous from a young age and was used in God’s plan to save Moses and bring deliverance to the Hebrew people. 

There are many lessons we can take away from her story and apply in our own lives.  Her strong faith, praise, leadership, healing, and deliverance show us that the Lord is always with us and working through all the circumstances in our lives.  

Learn More About the Story of Miriam in the Bible

If you’d like to dive deeper into her story, you’ll want to check out this story of Miriam in the Bible study that comes with free resources! 

FREE! Character Bible Study on Miriam

Download these Miriam Bible Study Questions for FREE! Included are 10 study questions and 5 reflection questions, along with the specific Bible passages to read her story.

3 worksheets Bible study questiions answer who is Miriam in the Bible

Resources to Learn More about Inspiring Bible Women

If you’d like to study the story and lives of other inspiring women of the Bible, you’ll want to check out this 30-day Bible reading plan and journal >> Inspiring Women of the Bible Study Journal – Digital & Printable!

Be sure to read more from our Women of the Bible Series!



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Tinashe Jaricha is a child of God, saved by His amazing grace. Her passion is to encourage moms to grow in Biblical knowledge. She shares Christian living tips and resources at Our God Is With Us.


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