12 While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron chastised Moses for marrying a foreign woman—a Cushite (and it was true that he did indeed marry such an African).
Miriam and Aaron:2 Has the Eternal One spoken only through Moses? No, the Eternal has also spoken through us.
Now, the Eternal One heard this. 3 For his part, Moses was a uniquely humble fellow, more humble than anyone in the entire world. 4 All of a sudden, the Eternal called the three siblings together.
Eternal One: Come here, you three—Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Join Me at the congregation tent.
They did. 5 The Eternal One descended in a cloud-column, stood at the tent opening, and summoned just Aaron and Miriam. They came forward.
Eternal One:6 Listen to Me. When there are prophets in your midst, I, the Eternal One, will show Myself to them in visions, and will sound My voice in their dreams. 7 It’s different with My servant, Moses. I have entrusted him above anyone else in My whole house, 8 and with him I communicate face-to-face. We speak directly and without riddles. He can even see the very form of the Eternal. So why aren’t you nervous about criticizing My servant, Moses?
Moses is described as uniquely close to the Lord. He is singled out as God’s servant, a distinction reserved for a few in the Old Testament, with David being the most notable. His importance is underscored by God’s unique communication with Moses. It is direct, plain, and without trances, visions, or dreams. Literally, the communication is right in God’s face. The idea here is that it is not veiled but intimate; there is a closeness between God and Moses no other person shares. But in the same way that Jesus will be understood only by those who know Him and are known by Him, God’s communication to Moses is different. It is not a riddle that is hard to understand or easy to confuse. God is seen and heard clearly by His servant and friend, Moses.
9 The Eternal left, quite angry with Miriam and Aaron. 10 When the cloud lifted from the congregation tent, you could see that Miriam had been stricken with a disfiguring skin condition. Her skin looked white, like snow. Aaron looked at her, saw this, 11 and immediately turned to Moses.
Aaron: Please, Moses, my lord, don’t punish us for this offense that we so stupidly committed. 12 Don’t leave her in this partial death—like a stillborn baby whose flesh is already half-rotted away!
Moses(pleading to the Lord):13 O, God, I ask You to please heal her!
Eternal One(to Moses):14 If her father had been angry with her and made it obvious by, say, spitting in her face, wouldn’t she have to bear her shame for a week? Just so, you must ostracize her from the camp for seven days. After that, she can rejoin the community.
15 So Miriam was shut out of the community for seven days, which also meant that the whole group didn’t travel until Miriam was brought back in, 16 and they set out again. They journeyed from Hazeroth into the Paran Wilderness and set up camp there.
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