Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bible Notes: Num 12

This chapter of only 16 verses is chock-full of interesting tidbits.

#1 Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses! As if he hasn’t got enough trouble with the few million Israelites and their complaints.

#2 Two complaints are specified. The first is about his wife. They don't like her because she's a Cushite. This complaint isn’t addressed by the Lord. I’m guessing that we are to view this first complaint negatively, since the other complaint is rebuked and judged.

Here’s a question to follow up on, though? What of this marriage to Zipporah? (I assume that’s who’s meant.) Does this violate God's law, or at least reveal poor judgment, when God was concerned about the Israelites marrying the peoples around them?

Lev 21:7 gives instructions for priests who marry, and Lev 21:13-15 instructions for whom the high priest may and may not marry.

But this whole law in Lev 21 is for the priests, the "sons of Aaron." This brings us to a point of chronology: Moses was the brother of Aaron, and he was given this law in Lev 21 after he married Zipporah.

#3 The second complaint is more serious. They attack his special position as the leader of God’s people: “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?”

This is the sin Aaron and Miriam get rebuked for. Their complaint is: “Moses isn’t any more special than us.” God’s rejoinder may be surprising: “Yes he is!” And the reasons God gives (detailed in 6-8) set Moses apart from just about everyone else in the human race besides Christ.

This ambition strikes me as akin to the devil’s. Aaron and Miriam are part of the leadership team of this nation. God had spoken through them. But it wasn’t enough. Being in the top 5 of a few million wasn’t enough. They wanted to be number 1.

Being “the signet of perfection” and “an anointed guardian cherub” wasn’t enough for the devil either (Ezek 28:11ff.). He wanted to ascend higher than God and be like him (Isa 14:12-14).

There’s a story of a holy man whom the demons were struggling unsuccessfully to tempt into sin. None of the traditional temptations worked. Finally in disgust the devil took over. “Watch and learn, boys.” He whispered into the old saint’s ear, “Your brother has just been made bishop.” And a spark of jealousy ignited in the old man’s heart.

#4 Moses was the meekest man on all the earth. That’s what verse 3 says. In other words, of the some 2-3 million Israelites, the one person over the age of 20 who didn’t want the job of leading the nation was the one person who had the job.

Moses wrote Numbers, didn’t he? How is it he wrote this verse? You would think the meekest man in all the earth would have the meekness not to record that point, and in truth, because of his meekness, not believe that he was the meekest man in the first place. Humble men see their own pride far more easily than do proud men. At this point, I think this verse may have been inserted--by inspiration of the Holy Spirit--by someone else later. Perhaps Joshua.

#5 Miriam is judged. When God is done rebuking Aaron and Miriam, he leaves, and Miriam is leprous.
  • Interesting that Aaron isn’t judged, too.
  • Interesting that Aaron begs Moses for help, and not the Lord directly. I thought the Lord spoke through him as well as Moses.
  • Moses does pray to for Miriam with all sincerity, and she is healed, but she has to remain outside the camp for 7 days.

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