1 Now a man from the house of Levi went and took to wife a daughter of Levi.
2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months. 3 And when she could hide him no longer she took for him a basket made of bulrushes, and daubed it with bitumen and pitch; and she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds at the river’s brink.
Fragment of Egyptian faience with bulrushes, circa 1,350BC
4 And his sister stood at a distance, to know what would be done to him. 5 Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, and her maidens walked beside the river; she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to fetch it. 6 When she opened it she saw the child; and lo, the babe was crying. She took pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?”
8 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away, and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”
The Song of Miriam
19 For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought back the waters of the sea upon them; but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea.
20 Then Miriam, the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and dancing. 21 And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.”
Miriam and Aaron anger God
Statuette of a woman with a timbrel (tambourine), 6th century BC, Cyprus
1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman;
2 and they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it.
3 Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth.
4 And suddenly the LORD said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, “Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting.” And the three of them came out.
5 And the LORD came down in a pillar of cloud, and stood at the door of the tent, and called Aaron and Miriam; and they both came forward.
6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the LORD make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream.
7 Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house.
8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”
9 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them, and he departed;
10 and when the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam, and behold, she was leprous.
11 And Aaron said to Moses, “Oh, my lord, do not punish us because we have done foolishly and have sinned.
12 Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb.”
13 And Moses cried to the LORD, “Heal her, O God, I beseech thee.”
14 But the LORD said to Moses, “If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be shamed seven days? Let her be shut up outside the camp seven days, and after that she may be brought in again.”
15 So Miriam was shut up outside the camp seven days; and the people did not set out on the march till Miriam was brought in again.
Miriam dies in the wilderness of Zin
1 And the people of Israel, the whole congregation, came into the wilderness of Zin in the first month, and the people stayed in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
The little basket floated for a while then lodged in the shallows of the river. Miriam was following, and saw it was not far from a bathing party. Pharaoh’s daughter was there with her retinue. The royal women saw the basket and investigated: it was a live baby, crying with hunger…