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9 Significant Lessons We Can Learn Miriam In The Bible

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As we continue our series on women in the Bible, I would be remiss if I didn’t include Miriam in our study. Miriam’s story is a portrait of courage, deep family connections, leadership, and a faithful life. On the other hand, she is a portrait of the effects of gossip and words that tear others down.

(Other posts in the series on women of the Bible include SarahElizabethDeborahMarthaRuth, and Esther.)

If you are not familiar with the story of Miriam in the Bible, let’s do a quick recap.

cartoon of Miriam with the text 9 significant lessons we can learn from Miriam in the Bible

The Story of Miriam in the Bible

Miriam (מִרְיָם Mir-yām) was born in 1576 B.C. She is the daughter of Amram and Jochebed and the sister of Moses and Aaron. She is described as a prophetess and is one of the seven major female prophets in the Bible. (The other Prophetess are Sarah, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Esther, and Huldah.)

Miriam, the sister of Aaron and Moses Bible, played a vital role in leading the Israelites. She was a prophetess who, along with her brothers, led the people after the Exodus. The Tent of Meeting was where God communicated with Moses, symbolizing divine presence and guidance for the Israelites.

A Loving Sister

We are first introduced to Miriam as she and her younger brother, Aaron, welcome a new baby boy to the family. His name was Moses. It is believed that Miriam was around five years old and Aaron three when Moses was born.

Unfortunately, Moses was born during a time when a decree was in effect demanding that all Hebrew baby boys be killed.

Miriam had parents with strong faith, however, and trusted God

Her mother was able to hide Moses for three months. Her mother could no longer safely do so, so Miriam knew she needed to find a way for him to escape Pharaoh’s wrath. She found a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch to make it waterproof. She then placed Moses in the basket and hid it in the reeds along the bank of the Nile River.

Big sister Miriam stood by and watched to see what would become of her baby brother.

“Now a man from the house of Levi went and took as his wife a Levite woman. The woman conceived and bore a son, and when she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him three months. When she could hide him no longer, she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank. And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him.”

Exodus 2:1-4 (ESV)

Soon after, Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah (also spelled Bitya), went down to the river to bathe. She saw the basket and sent a slave girl to fetch it. Once she opened the basket and saw baby Moses, she immediately fell in love with him and decided to keep and raise him as her own.

Miriam, who stood watching, courageously stepped forward and offered to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for Bithiah. Miriam ran to tell her mother and Moses’ very own mother was compensated to nurse him and care for him until he was weaned.

Miriam in the Bible Exodus 2:1-4

A Strong and Caring Leader

When it was in God’s perfect timing to deliver the Israelites from bondage, He chose Moses to carry out His will. 

By this time, Moses, had been living in Midian and had a wife and two sons. He spent his days tending his father-in-law’s flocks.

So, with instructions from God, Moses returns to Egypt. His brother Aaron is to be his spokesman. Together, they communicate to Pharaoh God’s commands to free the Hebrews.

Miriam witnessed the great miracles God performed through Moses.

She was also part of the huge throng of people who experienced the crossing of the Red Sea. She looked back, after passing, and watched as the chariots and Pharaoh’s army were swallowed into the sea.

The Israelites were finally free from brutal captivity and it was a time to rejoice!

Exodus 15 gives us the first song recorded in the Bible, which Moses penned. It is a song of praise from freed people, often referred to as the song of the sea.

the story of Miriam in the Bible Exodus 15_1

This song, known as The Song of Miriam and Moses, was written in praise and worship to God for redeeming the Israelites. It is found in Exodus 15:1-18.

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,
“I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;
    the horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
    and he has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise him,
    my father’s God, and I will exalt him.
The Lord is a man of war;
    the Lord is his name.

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his host he cast into the sea,
    and his chosen officers were sunk in the Red Sea.
The floods covered them;
    they went down into the depths like a stone.
Your right hand, O Lord, glorious in power,
    your right hand, O Lord, shatters the enemy.

In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries;
    you send out your fury; it consumes them like stubble.
At the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up;
    the floods stood up in a heap;

    the deeps congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake,
    I will divide the spoil, my desire shall have its fill of them.
    I will draw my sword; my hand shall destroy them.’
You blew with your wind; the sea covered them;
    they sank like lead in the mighty waters.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
You stretched out your right hand;
    the earth swallowed them.

1You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
    you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
The peoples have heard; they tremble;
    pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
    trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;

    all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
Terror and dread fall upon them;
    because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O Lord, pass by,
    till the people pass by whom you have purchased.

You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain,
    the place, O Lord, which you have made for your abode,
    the sanctuary, O Lord, which your hands have established.
The Lord will reign forever and ever.”

Exodus 15:1-18 (ESV)

According to Exodus 15:20-21, Miriam took a timbrel in her hand and lead the women in music, song and dance to celebrate God delivering them to safety.

Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing. 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.”

Exodus 15:20-21 (ESV)

While we don’t find much scripture surrounding prophet Miriam, she is described, along with her brothers, Moses and Aaron,  as delivering the Jews from slavery in Egypt:

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
    and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
    Aaron, and Miriam.

Micah 6:4 (ESV)

She is mentioned as prophetess in Exodus 15:20-21, above and in Numbers 12 as well.

It is believed that as Moses taught the men the Torah, Miriam led the women and taught them, too.

Free Bible Verses

printables about Miriam in the Bible

About Miriam

For Deeper Study or Verse Mapping


Key Events in Her Life


Punished with Leprosy

Miriam, over time, became hungry for more power. Moses, of course, was chosen by God to lead the people and Aaron to be the high priest. Miriam, as we know, was considered a prophetess, but she wanted more and became restless. 

She started to question Moses and speak against him. Both she and Aaron had some rough things to say about Moses’ Cushite wife, too.

The Lord, Who hears all, decides to discipline Miriam by striking her with leprosy.

The Well of Miriam

We can assume that Miriam had an attitude adjustment after the leprosy incident. She lived for another thirty-eight years, and the Bible never again mentions her questioning Moses, his authority, or his wife. Miriam is not mentioned again until she dies, never reaching the Promised Land. She is believed to be around 130 years old at the time of her death.

In Numbers 20:1, we read about Miriam’s death, and immediately following, we read that the Israelites have no water.

“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.”

Numbers 20:1

Bible scholars make the correlation between Miriam’s death and the lack of water and conclude that they had consistent water to the credit of Miriam for the forty years prior. They believe that Miriam’s death caused the well to dry up.

Hebrew experts point out that the Talmud explains that Miriam, Aaron, and Moses were responsible for the three gifts the Jews had in the desert—the well of water, the pillar of cloud, and the manna, respectively.

Miriam’s Well (Be’erah shel Miriam) is the name the Hebrews gave to the spring that provided water, and throughout the 40 years the Israelites traveled in the wilderness.

So those are the stories in the Bible that give us a glimpse of who Miriam was and her importance in the history of our faith.

MIriam prophetess Deuteronomy 24_9

Now that we have had a refresher on Miriam and where she is found in the Bible, let’s look at some lessons from Miriam and her life.

As with most of the women we read about in the Bible, the story of Miriam can teach us so much.

Lessons from Miriam in the Bible

The lessons we can learn from Miriam are both lessons on what to do and what not to do.

1. Have Courage

For a young girl, only five years old, Miriam displayed incredible courage when she approached Pharaoh’s daughter about finding someone to nurse baby Moses. Can you imagine the boldness in this child?

Although, at the time of Moses’ birth, Deuteronomy won’t be written for many years to come, this verse comes to mind when I read this story of Miriam in the Bible:

“Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deuteronomy 31:6 (ESV)

I have a child like Miriam. He wasn’t afraid of anything, which, as his mother, terrified me at times!

If you could have the courage of Miriam and step out in faith, what would you do right now? What is stopping you from knowing that Psalm 27:1 tells us:

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
    of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 27:1 (ESV)

2. Be a Good Sibling

I don’t have any brothers or sisters, so this one is a bit tough for me to relate to, but I am struck by the fact that Miriam, even as a child, felt protective over her baby brother and risked so much in approaching daughter of Pharaoh on his behalf.

Would you do the same for your brother or sister now that you are an adult?

It’s one thing to stand up for them to a bully in grade school, but another, entirely, to gently guide, correct and hold them up as an adult.

Consider what we read in Philippians 2:3-4

 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

Philippians 2:3-4

Ask God today to reveal how you can be a good sibling and mirror our ancestor, Miriam.

3. Thank God for Each and Every Blessing and Trial You Have

Do you thank God for your blessings (and trials)? Many Christians do, but they do so with a blanket statement: “Thank you, God, for all you have given me.” That’s great, and it’s a start, but it’s really just a start.

When we look at the Song of Moses and Miriam, we see it is filled with specific reasons for thanksgiving and praise:

I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea, for example. They list what God did and thank Him for each.

Let’s learn from their example. When you pray, thank God for the roof over your head, the food you have to eat, the health of your family, and your church.

Thank Him also for the difficulties that you face in life. Although it was tough, at first, I gave thanks to God for my cancer, as that time drew me closer to Him than ever before.

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV)

4. Be a Leader

Miriam taught women about God and, after being delivered out of slavery, led the women in song and music. She was a leader. She was someone that others wanted to be around and follow.

When you examine your interactions with others, are you someone that others want to be around and follow? Or are you bitter, angry, bossy, or even passive?

Leaders don’t sit back and watch. Miriam didn’t just accept that her brother would float down the Nile to uncertain circumstances. Instead, she watched and took action when she saw Pharaoh’s daughter’s slave retrieve Moses’ basket from the water.

Do you sit back and let others do all the work? Or do you step up and take action?

Perhaps you don’t feel called to lead a group or an organization. You can still serve the Lord in leadership in other ways.

Look to Titus 2 for inspiration:

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 

Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

Can you lead young women to stronger marriages and a deeper walk with God?

5. Use Your Gifts for God’s Glory

God gives us each unique gifts. We are bestowed these gift to use for God’s glory and to advance His Kingdom.

Miriam discovered that she had been given the gift of prophecy and used this gift to help lead the Israelites to the Promised Land, along with her brothers, Moses and Aaron.

She had a willing, servant attitude.

The Lord has given you gifts and wants you to use them to glorify Him, just as He used Miriam.

What gifts has God given you? How are you using them for Him?

If you aren’t sure or are trying to discern His will in your life, see this post on finding your calling.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

1 Peter 4:10-11 (ESV)


6. Quit Complaining

Miriam, although, for years a faithful servant, developed a bitter heart and began to complain about her brother Moses and his wife. God hears everything and felt that Miriam deserved punishment for her harsh treatment of her brother and his wife. 

She is stricken with leprosy, and removed from camp for a full week.

God intended for her to reflect and repent. She must have felt humiliated and embarrassed for her behavior.

Scholars believe that Miriam’s leprosy was viewed by the Hebrew people as a confirmation that Moses was chosen by God to be the leader of the Israelites and that even though Miriam and Aaron were important to the story, they were subservient to Moses.

Are you one to complain? Do you gripe about others and your circumstances?

I’m not saying that if you do, God will afflict you with leprosy or another disease, but God’s punishment of Miriam is a powerful example of how God despises complaining. He takes it as a personal affront. When we complain, we are not merely complaining about others, but God, Himself.

“And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the Lord has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him—what are we? Your grumbling is not against us but against the Lord.”

Exodus 16:8 (ESV)

7. Don’t Talk Bad About Others

This one is related to complaining, but distinctly different. Miriam was badmouthing Moses and his wife. God makes it abundantly clear that we are to use words that build up and not tear down another.

He also is straightforward in his feelings about gossip.

Do you have a tendency to gossip or talk about others?

While I don’t gossip, God has convicted me that sometimes I can be unkind in my talk about others. I may mention to my husband “Can you believe that so and so did such and such?” or “The way blank treats her husband is awful”

That is not wholesome talk, nor is it any of my business. I’m a work in progress on this one, if I’m being honest, my friends.

What about you? Is God telling you anything right now?

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

“You shall not go around as a slanderer among your people, and you shall not stand up against the life of your neighbor: I am the Lord.”

Leviticus 19:16 (ESV)

8. Faith is a Blessing for Future Generations

We know that Miriam was strong in her faith and, according to Hebrew tradition, women passed their faith on to their children. We also surmise from biblical scholars and as referenced above, that Miriam taught other women about the Torah.

Her teaching to other women was instrumental in passing the faith down to generation after generation.

Faith begins in the home. It’s one thing to take your children to church and to Sunday school or VBS. It’s another thing, entirely, to demonstrate true faith in Jesus in your home. Children are more likely to model your behavior than they are to act on your words.

Are you blessing future generations by teaching your children (and possibly others) about God?

One generation shall commend your works to another,
    and shall declare your mighty acts.

Psalm 145:4 (ESV)

Interesting Facts About Miriam

  • Miriam (possibly translated as Mary in English) means ‘bitter’ although it could also signify ‘one who loves or is loved by Yahweh’‘. 
  • The historian Josephus claims that Miriam married Hur, Moses’ close friend.
  • Other documents point to her as Hur’s mother and Caleb’s wife.
  • Cush is not far from modern-day Ethiopia, meaning that Moses’ Cushite woman and wife most likely had dark skin. Most scholars agree that dark skin was highly valued at that time, and Miriam’s behavior toward her was caused by jealousy rather than based on anything concrete.
  • In addition to biblical mentions, other ancient Jewish literature refers to Miriam. She is mentioned in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria texts, and other rabbinic literature.

For further reading about Miriam in the Bible and study, you may enjoy this book about Miriam and other women prophets.

Mesu Andrews, one of my favorite Christian fiction authors, has a terrific book about Miriam.

Or listen to them on Audible Plus with a free trial!

What is God telling you about Miriam in the Bible and what we can learn from her? Do you have a book recommendation about Miriam? I’d love to hear from you!

You may enjoy this sermon on Miriam: The Leading Lady of the Exodus:

Because of Him,


ESV – “Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

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Wednesday 19th of April 2023

Thanks for the info. Our women's Bible Study group will be using your information during our Bible Study next month.

Susan Nelson

Thursday 20th of April 2023

Wonderful! I pray it is a blessing to the women in your group!

Jane Mojaki

Saturday 1st of April 2023

Thank you so much for revealing the good qualities of Miriam It displays the character that we should have in our walk with Christ Very encouraging. May God keep on increasing you in your Ministry. Stay blessed

Susan Nelson

Thursday 6th of April 2023

I’m so glad that it blessed you! Thank you for stopping by and have a wonderful day!

Bethany F

Friday 15th of July 2022

We are going to name our Daughter Miriam, and me and my husband both Operate in the gift of prophecy, the Lord gave us the name before she was ever conceived, well I was praying yesterday that our baby would be a prophetess unto the nation, and the pastors sermon was literally about children and how God was raising up the next generation to be deliverers and children of deliverance. Anyways read this article and find out she was a prophet with a major story of deliverance 😭😭😭😭 thank you Lord.

Susan Nelson

Monday 15th of August 2022

God is so good and His timing is always perfect! Please keep me posted on your new little girl, Miriam. God bless you and thank you for stopping by!


Monday 7th of February 2022

I was most impressed by this blog and the information that was so clearly given. She creates wonderful stories that engage you to continue to want to know more. Bravo, excellent work in honoring our Lord God.

Susan Nelson

Tuesday 15th of February 2022

Thank you so much. That means a lot. God bless you and have a beautiful day!

Miriame Cardichon

Sunday 29th of August 2021

Thank you !for this Bible study on Miriam. I learned so much . it was amazingly put together. Was just looking up the meaning of my name, and I come across your study I didn’t regret it

Thank you Miriame

Susan Nelson

Tuesday 31st of August 2021

I'm so happy to hear that! Thank you for stopping by and blessings to you on your study!

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