Miriam and Aaron murmur against Moses, ver. 1 - 3.
God calls them to an account for it, ver. 4 - 9.
Miriam becoming leprous, Aaron humbles himself,
and Moses prays for her, ver. 10 - 13.
She is healed, but shut out of the camp for seven days, ver. 14 - 16.
1: Miriam - Miriam seems to be first named, because she was the first
mover of the sedition; wherefore she is more eminently punished.
The Ethiopian - Either,
Zipporah, who is here called an Ethiopian, in the Hebrew a
Cushite, because she was a Midianite: the word Cush being
generally used in scripture, not for Ethiopia properly so called below
Egypt, but for Arabia. If she be meant, probably they did not
quarrel with him for marrying her, because that was done long since, but
for being swayed by her and her relations, by whom they might think he was
persuaded to chose seventy rulers, by which co - partnership in government
they thought their authority and reputation diminished. And because they
durst not accuse God, they charge Moses, his instrument, as the manner
of men is. Or,
some other woman, whom he married either whilst Zipporah lived, or
rather because she was now dead, though that, as many other things, be not
recorded. For, as the quarrel seems to be about his marrying a stranger, it
is probable it was a fresh occasion about which they contended. And it was
lawful for him as well as any other to marry an Ethiopian or Arabian
woman, provided she were, a sincere proselyte.
2: By us - Are not we prophets as well as he? so Aaron was made,(Ex 4:15,16),
and so Miriam is called, (Ex 15:20).
And Moses hath debased and mixed the holy seed, which we have not done.
Why then should he take all power to himself, and make rulers as he
pleaseth, without consulting us. The Lord heard - Observed their words
and carriage to Moses.
3: Meek - This is added as the reason why Moses took no notice of
their reproach, and why God did so severely plead his cause. Thus was he
fitted for the work he was called to, which required all the meekness he
had. And this is often more tried by the unkindness of our friends, than
by the malice of our enemies. Probably this commendation was added, as some
other clauses were, by some succeeding prophet. How was Moses so meek,
when we often read of his anger? But this only proves, that the law
made nothing perfect.
4: Suddenly - To stifle the beginnings of the sedition, that this
example might not spread amongst the people. Come out - Out of your
private dwellings, that you may know my pleasure and your own doom.
5: In the door - While they stood without, not being admitted into
the tabernacle, as Aaron used to be; a sign of God's displeasure.
6: Among you - if you be prophets, yet know there is a difference
among prophets, nor do I put equal honour upon all of them.
7: In all my house - That is, whom I have set over all my house, my
church and people, and therefore over you; and who hath discharged his
office faithfully, and not partially as you falsely accuse him.
8: Mouth to mouth - That is, distinctly, by an articulate voice;
immediately, not by an interpreter, nor by shadows and representations in
his fancy, as it is in visions and dreams; and familiarly.
Apparently - Plainly and certainly. Dark speeches - Not in parables,
similitudes, dark resemblances; as by shewing a boiling pot, an
almond tree, &c. to Jeremiah, a chariot with wheels, &c. to
Ezekiel. The similitude - Not the face or essence of God, which no
man can see and live, (Ex 33:20), but some singular manifestation of
his glorious presence, as (Ex 33:11,20). Yea the Son of God appeared
to him in an human shape, which he took up for a time, that he might give
him a foretaste of his future incarnation. My servant - Who is so in such
an eminent and extraordinary manner.
9: He departed - From the door of the tabernacle, in token of his
great displeasure, not waiting for their answer. The removal of God~s
presence from us, is the saddest token of his displeasure. And he never
departs, till we by our sin and folly drive him from us.
10: From the tabernacle - Not from the whole tabernacle, but from
that part, whither it was come, to that part which was directly over the
mercy - seat, where it constantly abode. Leprous - She, and not Aaron,
either because she was chief in the transgression or because God would not
have his worship interrupted or dishonoured, which it must have been if
Aaron had been leprous. White - This kind of leprosy was the most
virulent and incurable of all. It is true, when the leprosy began in a
particular part, and thence spread itself over all the flesh by degrees,
and at last made it all white, that was an evidence of the cure of the
leprosy, (Le 13:12,13). But it was otherwise when one was suddenly
smitten with this universal whiteness.
11: Lay not the sin - Let not the guilt and punishment of this sin
rest upon us, upon her in this kind, upon me in any other kind, but pray to
God for the pardon and removal of it.
12: As one dead - Because part of her flesh was putrefied and dead,
and not to be restored but by the mighty power of God. Like a still - born
child, that hath been for some time dead in the womb, which when it comes
forth, is putrefied, and part of it consumed.
14: Spit in her face - That is, expressed some eminent token of
indignation and contempt, which was this, (Job 30:10,Isa 50:6).
Ashamed - And withdraw herself, from her father's presence, as
Jonathan did upon a like occasion, (1Sa 20:34).
So though God healed her according to Moses's request, yet he would have
her publickly bear the shame of her sin, and be a warning to others to keep
them from the same transgression.
15: Journeyed not - Which was a testimony of respect to her both from
God and from the people, God so ordering it, partly lest she should be
overwhelmed by such a publick rebuke from God, and partly lest, she being
a prophetess, the gift of prophesy should come into contempt.
16: Paran - That is, in another part of the same wilderness.