Biblical Text with discussion questions

Numbers 12:1–15

1Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses about the Cushite woman he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. 2They said, “Has God spoken only through Moses? Has God not spoken through us as well?” God heard it. 3Now Moses was a very humble man, more so than any other man on earth.

4Suddenly God called to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the Tent of Meeting.” So the three of them went out. 5God came down in a pillar of cloud, stopped at the entrance of the Tent, and called out, “Aaron and Miriam!” The two of them came forward; 6and God said, “Hear these My words: When a prophet of God arises among you, I make Myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. 7Not so with My servant Moses; he is trusted throughout My household. 8With him I speak mouth to mouth, plainly and not in riddles, and he beholds the likeness of God. How then did you not shrink from speaking against My servant Moses!” 9Still incensed with them, God departed. 10As the cloud withdrew from the Tent, there was Miriam stricken with snow-white scales! When Aaron turned toward Miriam, he saw that she was stricken with scales. 11And Aaron said to Moses, “O my lord, account not to us the sin which we committed in our folly. 12Let her not be as one dead, who emerges from his mother’s womb with half his flesh eaten away.” 13So Moses cried out to God, saying, “O God, pray heal her!”

14But God said to Moses, “If her father spat in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of camp for seven days, and then let her be readmitted.” 15So Miriam was shut out of camp seven days; and the people did not march on until Miriam was readmitted.

Translation: JPS, edited

במדבר יב

1וַתְּדַבֵּר מִרְיָם וְאַהֲרֹן בְּמֹשֶׁה עַל־אֹדוֹת הָאִשָּׁה הַכֻּשִׁית אֲשֶׁר לָקָח כִּי־אִשָּׁה כֻשִׁית לָקָח׃ 2וַיֹּאמְרוּ הֲרַק אַךְ־בְּמֹשֶׁה דִּבֶּר יְהוָה הֲלֹא גַּם־בָּנוּ דִבֵּר וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה׃ 3וְהָאִישׁ מֹשֶׁה ענו [עָנָיו] מְאֹד מִכֹּל הָאָדָם אֲשֶׁר עַל־פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה׃

4וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה פִּתְאֹם אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל־אַהֲרֹן וְאֶל־מִרְיָם צְאוּ שְׁלָשְׁתְּכֶם אֶל־אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד וַיֵּצְאוּ שְׁלָשְׁתָּם׃ 5וַיֵּרֶד יְהוָה בְּעַמּוּד עָנָן וַיַּעֲמֹד פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל וַיִּקְרָא אַהֲרֹן וּמִרְיָם וַיֵּצְאוּ שְׁנֵיהֶם׃ 6וַיֹּאמֶר שִׁמְעוּ־נָא דְבָרָי אִם־יִהְיֶה נְבִיאֲכֶם יְהוָה בַּמַּרְאָה אֵלָיו אֶתְוַדָּע בַּחֲלוֹם אֲדַבֶּר־בּוֹ׃ 7לֹא־כֵן עַבְדִּי מֹשֶׁה בְּכָל־בֵּיתִי נֶאֱמָן הוּא׃ 8פֶּה אֶל־פֶּה אֲדַבֶּר־בּוֹ וּמַרְאֶה וְלֹא בְחִידֹת וּתְמֻנַת יְהוָה יַבִּיט וּמַדּוּעַ לֹא יְרֵאתֶם לְדַבֵּר בְּעַבְדִּי בְמֹשֶׁה׃ 9וַיִּחַר אַף יְהוָה בָּם וַיֵּלַךְ׃ 10וְהֶעָנָן סָר מֵעַל הָאֹהֶל וְהִנֵּה מִרְיָם מְצֹרַעַת כַּשָּׁלֶג וַיִּפֶן אַהֲרֹן אֶל־מִרְיָם וְהִנֵּה מְצֹרָעַת׃ 11וַיֹּאמֶר אַהֲרֹן אֶל־מֹשֶׁה בִּי אֲדֹנִי אַל־נָא תָשֵׁת עָלֵינוּ חַטָּאת אֲשֶׁר נוֹאַלְנוּ וַאֲשֶׁר חָטָאנוּ׃ 12אַל־נָא תְהִי כַּמֵּת אֲשֶׁר בְּצֵאתוֹ מֵרֶחֶם אִמּוֹ וַיֵּאָכֵל חֲצִי בְשָׂרוֹ׃ 13וַיִּצְעַק מֹשֶׁה אֶל־יְהוָה לֵאמֹר אֵל נָא רְפָא נָא לָהּ׃

14וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה וְאָבִיהָ יָרֹק יָרַק בְּפָנֶיהָ הֲלֹא תִכָּלֵם שִׁבְעַת יָמִים תִּסָּגֵר שִׁבְעַת יָמִים מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה וְאַחַר תֵּאָסֵף׃ 15וַתִּסָּגֵר מִרְיָם מִחוּץ לַמַּחֲנֶה שִׁבְעַת יָמִים וְהָעָם לֹא נָסַע עַד־הֵאָסֵף מִרְיָם׃

Discussion Questions

  1. What are the most compelling questions that arise as you read this text?
  2. Can you think of a modern story (from your life, or from film or literature) where a contemporary person’s experience echoes Miriam’s in some way?
  3. How might Miriam’s experience of being “shut out of the camp seven days” impact her sense of self? How might it affect her relationship to God, Moses, and her community?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Biblical Text with discussion questions." (Viewed on August 1, 2021) <https://jwa.org/node/22267>.

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