December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- 1 While they were in Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses on the pretext of the marriage he had contracted with a Cushite woman.
- 2 They complained, "Is it through Moses alone that the LORD speaks? Does he not speak through us also?" And the LORD heard this.
- Now, Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth.
- So at once the LORD said to Moses and Aaron and Miriam, "Come out, you three, to the meeting tent." And the three of them went.
- Then the LORD came down in the column of cloud, and standing at the entrance of the tent, called Aaron and Miriam. When both came forward,
- he said, "Now listen to the words of the LORD: Should there be a prophet among you, in visions will I reveal myself to him, in dreams will I speak to him;
- Not so with my servant Moses! Throughout my house he bears my trust:
- face to face I speak to him, plainly and not in riddles. The presence of the LORD he beholds. Why, then, did you not fear to speak against my servant Moses?"
- So angry was the LORD against them that when he departed,
- 3 and the cloud withdrew from the tent, there was Miriam, a snow-white leper! When Aaron turned and saw her a leper,
- "Ah, my lord!" he said to Moses, "please do not charge us with the sin that we have foolishly committed!
- Let her not thus be like the stillborn babe that comes forth from its mother's womb with its flesh half consumed."
- Then Moses cried to the LORD, "Please, not this! Pray, heal her!"
- But the LORD answered Moses, "Suppose her father had spit in her face, would she not hide in shame for seven days? Let her be confined outside the camp for seven days; only then may she be brought back."
- So Miriam was confined outside the camp for seven days, and the people did not start out again until she was brought back.
- After that the people set out from Hazeroth and encamped in the desert of Paran.
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1  Cushite woman: apparently Zipporah, the Midianitess, is meant; cf Exodus 2:21. Perhaps the term is used here merely in the sense of "despised foreigner."
2  The real reason for Miriam's quarrel with her brother Moses was her jealousy of his superior position; his Cushite wife served only as an occasion for the dispute. Aaron merely followed his sister in her rebellion; hence she alone was punished.
3  A snow-white leper: afflicted with "white leprosy," a skin disease that generally is not serious or of long duration. Cf Lev 13:3-6.
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