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The Prophetess of Redemption

by Mrs. R Goldzweig

www.kabbalaonline.org

  

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One of the foremost righteous leaders of the Jews in Egyptian exile was the prophetess Miriam, sister of Moses, in whose merit the Jewish nation drank from a miraculous well which followed them throughout the Sinai desert and beyond.

Her Childhood

Miriam was one of the three children of Amram and Jochebed; Aaron and Moses were her brothers. She was born at the time that the Egyptians began to oppress the Children of Israel and embitter their lives; she was thus named "Miriam", meaning "embittered" (in Hebrew, "mar" means "bitter").1

Several years after she was born, Pharaoh's astrologers told him that the savior of Israel will meet his end by water. Pharaoh then decreed that all male Jewish babies be thrown into the Nile, and he entrusted the Jewish midwives, Shifra and Pua, with this task. (According to many sources, Shifra refers to Jochebed, and Pua refers to 5-yr-old Miriam, who assisted her mother.)

Amram then divorced his wife, in despair from this decree. Being that he was the head of Sanhedrin, the rest of the Jews followed his example. His daughter Miriam's reaction: "Father, your decree is harsher than Pharaoh's, for Pharaoh's decree is directed only against the males, whereas yours is directed against both males and females".2 Amram thereupon remarried his wife with great ceremony and all the Jews again followed suit.

After the Children of Israel escaped from Egypt and had crossed the Red Sea, Miriam and the women took up these instruments, and they danced while singing the song of redemption with complete faith and joy, following Moses' cue
Before Moses was born, 7-year-old Miriam prophesied, "My mother is destined to bear a son who will redeem Israel".3 When Moses was born, the whole house was filled with light. Her father kissed her on her head and said, "My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.".4

When Moses was 3 months old, Pharaoh's scouts discovered the newborn baby and ordered him cast into the Nile. Jochebed then slapped Miriam on the head and said, "My daughter, where is your prophecy?"5 When Moses was placed into the Nile in a basket, Miriam stood from afar to see what would become of baby Moses - and her prophecy. At that time, the astrologers told Pharaoh, "The savior of the Jews has already been cast into the water," and the decree was rescinded.

Exile and Redemption

At the age of 80, Moses received a prophecy that the redemption was near. When he relayed this message to the Jewish men, they were unable to believe it, being too embittered from their slavery and suffering.

"Women have greater faith than men."6 Therefore, the wives rejoiced in Moses' message of salvation and continued to encourage their husbands by decorating themselves with make-up and jewelry when meeting them after their long, grueling day's work. They even fashioned tambourines in the depths of the Egyptian exile under Miriam's direction, in anticipation of the coming redemption.

The Red Sea split on the 22nd of Nisan, enabling the Jewish nation's safe crossing while escaping the Egyptians in pursuit, whereupon after the Children of Israel escaped from Egypt and had crossed the Red Sea, Miriam and the women took up these instruments, and they danced while singing the song of redemption with complete faith and joy, following Moses' cue. Although not yet in the Land of Israel, still in exile in the desert, they had perfect faith in their full redemption.

Miriam's Well

"There were three good shepherds/providers that were given to the Jewish people: Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. And three good gifts were given in their behalf: the Manna in Moses' merit, Seven Clouds of Glory in Aaron's merit, and a [mobile] well in Miriam's merit."7   Throughout their 40-year sojourn in the desert, they ate wondrous manna, were surrounded and protected by seven Clouds of Glory, and drank water from a miraculous well. Thus were their basic needs of food, water, and shelter provided for in the desert.

Footnotes

  • 1. Seder Olam Rabbah 3.
  • 2. Sotah 12a.
  • 3. Seder Olam 3, Megilla 14a.
  • 4. Megilla 14a.
  • 5. Shemot Rabba 1:22.
  • 6. Sifre, Num. 133.
  • 7. Taanit 9a, Zohar III 102b.

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