Summary: Ten lessons about criticism

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1. Is this a family squabble? “Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses” (12:1). They were Moses’ older sister and brother.

2. Were they influenced by public opinion? “When the people complained” (11:1).

3. Can people in high spiritual offices complain about their leaders? Miriam a prophetess (Ex. 15:20) and Aaron the nation’s high priest.

4. Miriam was the ring leader.

a. The verb “spoke against” (12:1) is feminine.

b. She received the most serious judgment.

5. What motivated their sin of criticism?

a. Envy. They wanted Moses’ position.

b. Jealousy. They wanted the power of Moses’ results.

c. Family strife. They were older.

d. Racism. They pointed out her ethnic background. “Criticized Moses because he had married an Ethiopian woman” (12:1, ELT).

e. Sin misleads. Was the ethnic slur a cover up for their selfish lust for power, or the reverse?


1. Did Moses violate a Jewish commandment against intermarriage? “Take heed . . . lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants . . . take of their daughters . . . go a whoring after their gods” (Ex. 34:12-16).

2. Could she have been “saved” out of the Egyptians who came with Israel?

3. Was she a Cushite (Hebrew term in verse 1), a tribe permissible for Israel to marry?

4. Was she a second wife along with Zipporah, hence the criticism?

5. Did Zipporah die and Moses remarry? “He had married” (12:1).

6. Critics say Moses didn’t write it because of the anti-humility statement. “Now . . . Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth” (12:3). The world says, “If you think you are humble, you are not.”

7. The opposite is true: if Moses was indeed that meek, he would not presume to make such a claim, unless he was inspired by the Lord to write it.

8. God elevated Moses to the level of Abraham.

a. Abraham my friend (Is. 41:8).

b. Moses my servant (Num. 12:7)

c. David my king (1 Sam. 21:11).


1. Watch your mouth. “The Lord heard it” (12:1).

2. Are these the sins God hates most? “These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him, (1) a proud look . . . (7) one who sows discord among brothers” (Prov. 6:16-19).

3. The sister was the leader, but the brother was called first. “The Lord came down . . . and called Aaron and Miriam” (12:5).

4. God’s sense of humor. Because Miriam criticized a black woman, God turned her white with leprosy.

5. Leprosy was a two-fold symbol of sin:

a. Slow rotting of skin till death.

b. Attacks the nervous system making one insensitive. (Sin makes one insensitive to God’s desire for holiness).

6. Miriam’s skin was milky white like a dead baby. “Please don’t let her be like a dead baby” (12:12).


1. Aaron was the first to ask for Miriam’s healing. “Aaron said to Moses.”

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