Hebrew: מִרְיָ֛ם —transliteration: Miriam
Meaning: rebellious; their rebellion; bitterness
also known as: Mary or Maria
In Old Testament Scripture, this is the name of 2 women. In the New Testament, various Hebrew women are named Miriam, however their name is stated in Greek (Mary).
Miriam, a descendant of Judah
This woman is mentioned in 1 Chronicles 4:17. Her mother Bithia/Bithiah was an Egyptian, the daughter of Pharaoh. Her father was Mered, an Israelite. Miriam’s siblings were Shammai and Ishbah the father of Eshtemoa. Her half-siblings were born from Mered’s Jewish wife and named Jered (the father of Gedor), and Heber (the father of Soco), and Jekuthiel (the father of Zanoah).
Miriam, a descedant of Levi
Her name is prominent in the history of the Exodus. She was born 4 years years before Aaron and 7 years before Moses, whom she watched over from a distance after he was placed in an floating basket of bullrushes by their mother (Jochebed), in the hope of saving his life.
The first time she is mentioned by name in the Bible is in Exodus 15:20.
“Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has He not spoken through us as well?”
“You three come out to the tent of meeting.”
So the three of them came out. Then the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the doorway of the tent, and He called Aaron and Miriam. When they had both come forward, He said,
Not so, with My servant Moses,
He is faithful in all My household;
With him I speak mouth to mouth,
Even openly, and not in dark sayings,
And he beholds the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
To speak against My servant, against Moses?”
So the anger of the Lord burned against them and He departed. But when the cloud had withdrawn from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. As Aaron turned toward Miriam, behold, she was leprous. Then Aaron said to Moses,
“Oh, my lord, I beg you, do not account this sin to us, in which we have acted foolishly and in which we have sinned. Oh, do not let her be like one dead, whose flesh is half eaten away when he comes from his mother’s womb!”
Moses cried out to the Lord, saying,
“O God, heal her, I pray!”
But the Lord said to Moses,
“If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut up for seven days outside the camp, and afterward she may be received again.”
So Miriam was shut up outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not move on until Miriam was received again. —Numbers 12:1-15 NASB
Years later, she died at Kadesh during the 2nd encampment at that place, toward the close of the wanderings in the wilderness, and was buried there (Numbers 20:1). Like Moses and Aaron, God did not allow her to enter the Promised Land.
- Father: Amram—a grandson of Levi
- Mother: Jochebed (Yocheved)—a daughter of Levi (Exodus 6:20)
- Paternal Grandfather: Kohath
- Great grandfather: Levi, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham
- Brothers: Moses and Aaron
- Sisters: none mentioned
- Nephews included: Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, Ithamar
- Husband: Not mentioned in the Bible, but according to the Jewish Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sotah Folio 12a, he was Caleb (also called Ashhur), son of Jephunneh (Yefuneh) of the tribe of Judah.