Miriam, An Old Testament Prophet

Miriam was the older sister of both Aaron and Moses—Moses was the youngest. Miriam had been born into a harsh period of Israel’s history. Her childhood memories would have been of a little slave girl, born into a family of slaves in Egypt.

Though she, and all Israelites, lived in the fertile Goshen plain, their lives were burdened by an ever-increasing workload, racism, and rejection from the Egyptians, which included brutal treatment at the hands of their overseers.

When she was probably around 10 years old the Pharaoh of that day passed an edict demanding all baby boys were to be downed in the River Nile. Imagine their family’s dismay and horror when Miriam’s mother Jochebed gave birth to little Moses.

Yet the whole family worked hard to hide and protect Moses the first three months of his life, then—in the well-known story of Moses’s adoption as a prince of Egypt—Miriam kept watch as Jochebed placed her tiny precious cargo among the reeds of the Nile in a place Egyptian princesses often came to bathe.

Miriam’s two finest moments in history were when she boldly arranged for Moses’ care that day by the Nile, bringing their own mother to nurture and raise Moses for the Egyptian Princess until he was old enough to go to the royal palace and begin his formal education as a prince; and the day she led the women in praise of God after the crossed through the Red Sea.

In the scriptures Miriam comes across as creative, courageous, confident, resourceful, and responsible, a natural leader who led with grace and authority.

God called Miriam as a prophet to lead Israel with her two brothers, giving her equal status with them, and real responsibility (Exodus 15:20, Micah 6:4). Though the last chapter of her life was shaded with the humbling she received at God’s hand for speaking against Moses, overall she was respected and her influence was great. Her story is found in Exodus 1:15-2:10; 15:1, 20-21; Numbers 12:1-16; Numbers 20:1; Numbers 26:59; Micah 6:4.