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Numbers Chapter 12
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Miriam and Aaron Complain
12:1 Miriam and Aaron began speaking against Moses because of the dark-skinned woman he had married. The woman that [Moses] had married was indeed dark-skinned.
12:2 They [then went on to] say, 'Is it to Moses exclusively that God speaks? Doesn't He also speak to us?'

God heard it.

12:3 Moses, however, was very humble, more so than any man on the face of the earth.

Miriam's Punishment
12:4 God suddenly said to Moses, Aaron and Miriam, 'All three of you go out to the Communion Tent!'

When the three of them went out,

12:5 God descended in a pillar of cloud and stood at the Tent's entrance. He summoned Aaron and Miriam, and both of them went forth.
12:6 [God] said, 'Listen carefully to My words. If someone among you experiences divine prophecy, then when I make Myself known to him in a vision, I will speak to him in a dream.
12:7 This is not true of My servant Moses, who is like a trusted servant throughout My house.
12:8 With him I speak face to face, in a vision not containing allegory, so that he sees a true picture of God. How can you not be afraid to speak against My servant Moses?'
12:9 God displayed anger against them and departed.
12:10 When the cloud left its place over the Tent, Miriam was leprous, white like snow. When Aaron returned to Miriam [and saw] her leprous,
12:11 Aaron said to Moses, 'Please, my lord, do not hold a grudge against us for acting foolishly and sinning.
12:12 Let [Miriam] not be like a stillborn child, who comes from the womb with half its flesh rotted away.'
12:13 Moses cried out to God, 'O God, please heal her!'

Miriam Quarantined
12:14 God said to Moses, 'If her father had spit in her face, would she not have been embarrassed for seven days? Let her remain quarantined for seven days outside the camp, and then she can return home.'
12:15 For seven days, Miriam remained quarantined outside the camp, and the people did not move on until Miriam was able to return home.
12:16 The people then left Chatzeroth, and they camped in the Paran Desert.


  Tzipporah was a dark-skinned Midianite (Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim). Kushite in Hebrew, literally Ethiopian (cf. Targum Yonathan; Rashbam; Septuagint). It is from here that the tradition is derived that after he escaped from Egypt, Moses was a ruler in Ethiopia, and married an Ethiopian princess (Rashbam; Sefer HaYashar; Divrey Yamim DeMoshe; Yalkut Shimoni 168; Rashbam; Josephus, Antiquities 2:10:2). Or, 'a beautiful wife' (Targum; Saadia; Rashi; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah); or, 'a distinguished wife' (Rashi).

The woman...
  Or, 'for he had divorced his beautiful wife' (Targum; Saadia; Rashi).

then went on to

  Or, 'through' (Rashbam).

experiences divine prophecy
  Literally, 'experiences prophecy to God' (Ibn Ezra; Septuagint). Or, 'experiences prophecy, then I, God, make....' (Targum; Saadia; Rashi).

like a trusted servant
  (Rashbam; Ibn Ezra). Or, 'trusted in all....' (Targum; Saadia; Septuagint).

face to face
  (Saadia). Literally, 'mouth to mouth.' See Exodus 33:11.

Let Miriam not be...

  See Leviticus 13:4.

Paran Desert
  The next move was to Rithma; see 33:18. The Israelites left Chatzeroth on 29 Sivan (Taanith 29a; Seder Olam Rabbah 8).

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