Lesson 2 - Jochebed and Miriam: Influential Women
Time: the Exodus ~1450 B.C.
“For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith. For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another.” ROMANS 12:3-5
For 430 years, Israelites lived in Egypt, at first in comfort because the “vice president” of the country was their relative Joseph. But after Joseph died, there arose a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph, and Israel’s welcome grew cold. Fearing Israel’s might, Egypt sought to cripple the growing nation. But Egypt’s efforts were in vain; God was with His people, and He was preparing to bring Israel out of the land.
Conservative scholars date the “Exodus,” a landmark in Israel’s history, at 1446 B.C. Born shortly after the decree to throw Hebrew newborn boys in the Nile, Moses escaped death through adoption by pharaoh’s daughter. About 1486, the reigning Pharaoh tried to kill Moses when he sought identity with his people Israel, but Moses escaped to Midian. Forty years later, the Lord appeared to Moses in a burning bush, and Moses returned to Egypt to stand before the Pharaoh of the exodus with his brother Aaron at his side.
Through Moses, God poured out His wrath upon Pharaoh and brought Egypt to her knees. Israel marched forth a free people, living proof of God’s gracious salvation. Yet freedom did not guarantee success. Israel lacked organization. At Mount Sinai, God molded His people into a nation. The Mosaic Covenant governed every part of Israel’s society: the civil, the ceremonial, and the moral. The covenant contained special promises, but it demanded obedience. Rebellion would bring severe judgment. Israel chose to rebel against her God. Sin brought judgment, and an entire generation died. Yet, God heard the prayers of Moses and preserved His people through the wilderness.
Day One Study
Miriam’s childhood and her mentors…
1. Read Exodus 1:1-2:10; Hebrews
2. From Exodus 6:20 and Numbers 26:59, we get additional information about Miriam’s family. Her parents are named Amram and Jochebed. The children are Miriam, Aaron, and Moses. Read Hebrews 11:24-28. What influence, if any, did the few years spent with his parents have on Moses?
3. Based on the information in the text (Exodus 2:1-10), how would you describe Miriam’s mom Jochebed to someone? In other words, what character qualities do you “see” in her?
4. What choices did Miriam’s parents (Jochebed and Amram) make because of their faith? How did God reward that faith?
5. Miriam had the same home and parents as Moses. From the Exodus 2:1-10 passage (she’s the sister mentioned), use adjectives to describe Miriam who was about 7-12 years of age at this time.
From the Hebrew: Miriam’s name in Hebrew means “bitterness.” The Greek version of her name is Mary. In Israel’s history after this time, Mary, Mara, and Miriam were popular girl’s names.
6. As a young girl, then, what fearful situations did Miriam face, and how did she respond?
7. Your Life’s Journey: Moses, Aaron and Miriam came from a home where parents were walking by faith in their God. In what kind of home did you grow up? How has this affected your ability to courageously trust God and not give way to fear?
Day Two Study
80 years later…
8. Read Exodus 14:1-31. Miriam is now in her upper mid-life, ~87-92 years old. What did she experience of God’s faithfulness along with the rest of Israel? [NOTE: According to tradition, Miriam was married to Hur, an honorable man who along with Aaron, held up Moses’ arms during a major battle in Exodus 17:10-13. He was appointed magistrate while Moses was on the mountain (Ex. 24:14).]
9. Read Exodus 15:1-21. What was Miriam’s response to God’s faithfulness?
10. Read Micah 6:3-4. What does God say about Miriam’s role for Israel? In what ways is she pleasing God and fulfilling His purpose for her?
11. Why do you think Miriam’s support would have been important to Moses?
12. Looking more closely at Exodus 15:20. What is Miriam called? Read Numbers 12:2. What does Miriam say about herself?
13. A prophetess was a female prophet—one to whom and through whom God speaks, revealing Himself and His will especially in the absence of the written word of God. God used a number of women to speak forth (prophesy) His Word at critical times in history. One was Deborah whom we’ll be studying in an upcoming lesson. Another such woman was Huldah. Read 2 Kings 22:1-20. This occurred about 700 years after Miriam’s time. What was going on, and how did Huldah serve God and the leader of Israel?
14. Prophesying also could involve an enthusiastic praising of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. Read 1 Samuel 10:5-10 and 1 Chronicles 25:1. What activities were associated with prophesying? In what ways does Exodus 15:20-21 fit this description of prophesying?
Scriptural Insight: The song in Exodus 15 is the first recorded song in the Bible—a song of redemption. Such celebration was common after victory in battle. Since the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit residing in believers continues to inspire enthusiastic praising of God. We don’t call it prophesying any longer, but it still fits the biblical definition. The Holy Spirit inspires and gifts believers today to compose songs, poems, prayers and testimonies that glorify God.
15. Your Life’s Journey: The Holy Spirit still inspires us to break out in enthusiastic praise to God through song, poem, or other creative means. Can you recall a time in your life when you were inspired to praise God through one of these means? What creative means has God given you that you use to praise Him? Maybe you have written a song, a poem, created a work of art, or simply sang praise songs to Him. What led to this? Share about a time when you felt like breaking out into spontaneous praise to God in one of these ways or another way.
16. Tell Your Story: Jesus had a testimony to share. He said in John 8:14, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going.” What He said about Himself was His STORY. Miriam testified about God’s faithfulness through her use of poetry, song, and dance. Even if you’ve never testified like Miriam did, your STORY of God’s faithfulness in your life is your testimony about Him. Write a short paragraph telling of an area in your life where you have recognized God’s faithfulness to you. This is a part of your STORY of God’s faithfulness.
Day Three Study
~2 years later…
17. Read Numbers 12:1-16. Why did Miriam and Aaron begin to talk against Moses?
18. What do you think was the real reason for their complaining? [NOTE: One of the torments of jealousy is that it can never turn away its eyes from the thing that pains it.]
19. Discuss the Lord’s response to their behavior (vs. 2-9).
20. What is implied by the fact that the Lord punished only Miriam? See also James 3:5-6. [NOTE: Spitting in one’s face expressed contempt (Deut. 25:9). The Lord expressed His contempt for Miriam’s presumption by the skin affliction.]
21. Why was a skin disease such as leprosy so awful? See Numbers 5:1-4.
Think About It: Miriam bucked her authority, claiming equal prominence with Moses. Because of her attitude and resulting action, God disciplined her through banishment, opposite of what she really wanted!
22. How did Miriam’s brothers respond to the discipline of their sister?
23. Read Deuteronomy 24:8-9. What do you think was the effect of Miriam’s banishment from the camp for 7 days…
· on her?
· on the people?
Historical Insight: Sometimes Miriam was a good example; sometimes a bad example. Just like we are, she was not perfect everyday. Yet, she had been given a sphere of influence by God. She lived through 38 years of wandering and died just before Aaron in the 40th year out of Egypt at ~130 years old (Numbers 20:1).
24. Read Romans 13:1-2 and Hebrews 13:7,17. How does this incident in Numbers 12 illustrate these passages?
25. Your Life’s Journey:
· There are serious consequences of our attitudes towards authority. Though all of us are not leaders, all of us are under some kind of authority in the Church. Is there someone in leadership now of whom you are jealous, resentful, or disapproving? Do you try to undermine their leadership by gossip or slander? Read Proverbs 10:19. Discuss how to apply this scripture to your life.
· Read Mark 10:42-45, Galatians 5:26, Philippians 2:3-4, Romans 12:3-5, and 1 Peter 5:1-5. These verses, teaching how we should all relate to each other in God’s family, apply as well to leaders. What attitudes should we have if we are in leadership positions in the Body of Christ?
Day Four Study — The Walk From Fear To Faith
God loved Miriam’s family. He knew what was going on in their lives. He was able to do something about it. But, God did not give Jochebed her son back permanently to raise nor did He prevent them from having to go through the agony of hiding baby Moses. Miriam was given great responsibility and privilege, yet she also had to live with the consequences of her sin. During her walk, a loving God said “no” to some things. Yet, Miriam and her family chose to trust Him rather than submit to fear. And, God rewarded their faith with an outpouring of His blessing in other ways. Likewise, God may not choose to rescue you from your “Egypt.” But, in any and all situations, you can count on these truths…
§ God loves me.
§ God knows what is going on in my life.
§ God can do something about it.
§ I can trust His goodness in whatever He chooses to do!
26. What situations could have caused fear for Jochebed? How did she respond to God by faith?
27. Thinking back through Miriam’s life, what situations did she face that could have terrified her? How did she respond to God by faith in those situations?
28. Your Life’s Journey: What fears have confronted you this week? How have you dealt with them?