|Miriam was born
into slavery. She had no radio, no stereo, no TV or movies. She listened
to her familyís stories. The family of Jacob, also called Israel, had been
nomads who traveled from one grazing land to another with their livestock.
When a drought destroyed the grain crops, Jacobís family had to go to Egypt
to buy grain. Miriam must have heard many times the story of how Joseph
had saved them and the people of Egypt from starvation. She would have
known that Joseph expected his descendants to take his bones back to their
own land for burial. The hope of leaving Egypt and this life of hard labor
was planted in her mind and kept alive by her God-fearing parents.
The Egyptians had forgotten Joseph. They feared this growing alien nation of Hebrews living in their land. Because they were afraid, they began to place more restrictions and impose greater hardship on the Israelites. They even began killing the Israelitesí newborn sons in an effort to keep them from forming an army to revolt against Egypt.
Use your mindís eye and look back into her time---into her life: The young slave girl walked to the Nile river carrying a heavy basket.* An observer would assume she was on an errand for an Egyptian master. She carried a precious cargo--her baby brother who was only three months old. Her mother had kept him hidden as long as she dared. Miriam was old enough and responsible enough to be entrusted with this desperate errand. She had a quick intelligence that gave her the ability to be resourceful should things not go as planned.
The plan was simple: place the baby Moses in his waterproof carrier into the reeds by the riverbank and hope that God would send someone to rescue him. She stayed nearby, unwilling to leave until she knew what would happen to him. As an older sister, she would have held him, played with him, and helped her mother care for him as they kept him hidden. She loved him.
With apprehension, she watched the royal princess and her attendants approach the river. The daughter of the ruler of Egypt saw the basket and, curious to know what was in it, sent one of her slaves to investigate. The baby began crying. Miriam saw that the princess felt sorry for the baby. She came out of hiding and asked the princess if she would like her to find a nanny. Miriam hurried back home to bring her mother. Mosesí mother took care of him until he was old enough to begin his education as a royal son, the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh. God made it possible for him to grow up under the protection of the government that had tried to have him killed.
Miriam, a teenager (possibly only 12 or
13) risked her own life to help save her baby brother. She listened to
her parentsí instruction and carried them out. She humbled herself to boldly
approach a member of the royal family to ask that baby Mosesí needs be
met. She learned from her parents to fear God, not man, and to trust God
to provide. She was reliable, resourceful, brave, and put her trust in
God. When she grew up, she became a prophetess and a leader in Israel.
For the Scripture References and related
Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study
Guide: Miriam, The Slave Girl - In The Days Of Your Youth
* Editor's Note: The author made an assumption that since only Miriam seems to be at the Nile with Moses that she was the one to carry him there and place him in the river. But it has been brought to the author's attention that the pronoun in the text refers back to the mother, not Miriam: "Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile." (Exodus 2:3)
Our aim is to be true to the text while dramatizing as much as possible the account. We apologize to our readers for this error.