While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, “Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?” But the Lord heard them. (Now Moses was very humble—more humble than any other person on earth.)
So immediately the Lord called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam and said, “Go out to the Tabernacle, all three of you!” So the three of them went to the Tabernacle. . . .
The Lord was very angry with them, and he departed. As the cloud moved from above the Tabernacle, there stood Miriam, her skin as white as snow from leprosy. When Aaron saw what had happened to her, he cried out to Moses, “Oh, my master! Please don’t punish us for this sin we have so foolishly committed. Don’t let her be like a stillborn baby, already decayed at birth.”
(Numbers 12:1-4, 9-12)
Moses didn’t have a Jewish wife because he lived with the Egyptians the first 40 years of his life, and he was in the desert the next 40 years. The woman is probably not his first wife, Zipporah, who was a Midianite (see Exodus 2:21). The Cushite mentioned here referred to an Ethiopian. No explanation is given for why Miriam and Aaron objected to this woman.
People often argue over minor issues, leaving the real conflict untouched. Such was the case when Miriam and Aaron came to Moses with a complaint. They represented the priests and the prophets, the two most powerful groups next to Moses. The real issue was their growing jealousy of Moses’ position and influence. Since they could not find fault with Moses’ leadership, they chose to criticize his wife. Rather than face the problem squarely by dealing with their envy and pride, they diverted from the real issue. When you disagree with someone, stop and ask yourself if you are arguing over the real issue or if it started long before the current problem.
If you are unjustly criticized, remember that your critics may be afraid to face the real problem. If you are angry at someone else, take a closer look at what your reasons are. Ask God to help you identify the real issue and for the courage to deal with it openly.