Faces of Grace: Miriam

The Essence of Miriam

In the Bible, we are first introduced to Miriam in her role as a protective sister. Miriam’s childhood in the slave quarters of Egypt was one of fear and uncertainty. She and her three-year-old brother, Aaron, had parents who trusted in the God of Israel.

Pharaoh was ruler in Egypt. It came to his attention that a large number of Hebrew males were being born. He feared that one day the Hebrews would grow to be stronger than the Egyptians. so he sent out a decree that all newborn Hebrew males would be thrown to their death in the Nile River.

Miriam’s mother was pregnant when this new decree was communicated to the Hebrews.  Her baby was due at any time. Suppose her newborn was a male? How could she possibly allow Pharaoh’s men to throw her newborn child into the river which would mean certain death?

When Moses was born, happiness and light-filled their house for three months as his mother took every possible precaution for her beautiful baby’s safety.  When they learned Pharaoh’s men were on the way, the family was forced to take drastic action.

Knowing that Pharaoh’s daughter and her female court often came to the river to bathe, Moses’s mother used papyrus reeds to weave a small basket, fashioned like a boat.  She laid the baby in the basket,  gave him a last kiss and covered him with leaves as she placed him in the stream.

The anxious mother instructed the baby’s sister, Miriam, to go nearby and watch over his safety.

And his sister stood from a distance to know what would happen to him.” Exodus 2:4

Among the reeds, the little basket and its precious cargo was spotted and brought to Pharaoh’s daughter. The basket was opened and she gazed down on the baby Moses. She loved him at once, even though she recognized he was a Hebrew baby. As Pharaoh’s daughter lifted him up, the baby was softly crying and she could tell he was hungry. But who was to nurse the baby? Then came young Miriam’s opportunity. Out of the shadows, she stepped forth, appearing to be curious at the crying baby and puzzled look on the daughter of Pharaoh.

Miriam asked Pharaoh’s daughter “Would you like for me to find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you? She easily could have rejected Miriam’s offer but she welcomed the suggestion.

Miriam immediately went to her mother and shared the good news. They hurried to the river bank to meet Pharaoh’s daughter. When they arrived, Miriam’s mother was asked if she would be willing to care for the baby. She quickly agreed and was told that she would be paid for her services.

Miriam helped save Moses from certain death.

At that moment, the first part of God’s plan for Moses was fulfilled.  He had a plan for him to become one of the greatest men in the history of Israel. He would grow to be strong and courageous. God had handpicked him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and away from Pharaoh.

Miriam kept her silence and did not reveal her relationship to the baby or to the nurse she had found for him.

Moses’ mother took care of him until he was older, then she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and he became her son. She named him Moses.

Miriam showed faithfulness, loyalty, and bravery.  Such character would have been commendable if she had been much older,  but she was reported to be only  7 or 8 years old. Her courage in such trying times, when Hebrew male babies were being slaughtered for merely being boys, gives us a glimpse into the kind of woman she was to become.

The Hope of Bravery- Today

There are only a few direct references to Miriam in the Bible, but her importance to the Israelites’ story shines through even with limited biographical sketches.

Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt and when they arrived at the Red Sea, they were unable to proceed further on their journey. The Lord spoke to Moses, commanding him to raise his staff out over the sea. He did as God commanded and the waters parted. Dry land was in front of them with two huge walls of water on either side. Moses led God’s people safely to the other shore. When the Egyptians tried to pursue them, the waters raged and enveloped them, leaving no survivors.

It was there on the other side of the Red Sea that we see Miriam again. She was prominently proclaiming and singing of the power and faithfulness of God. Miriam took up a tambourine and led the women in dancing as she sang the ode of praise and victory.

A dreary wilderness faced the children of Israel, and Miriam knew that the Israelites would march better if they sang. Her song was full of praise and thankfulness for all that God had accomplished for them.

She became a prophetess and became an influential leader of the Israelite women. (Prophets and prophetesses are those raised up by God and inspired by His Spirit to proclaim the will and purpose of God).


Moses’ mother had to let go. Miriam had to let go.

Do you ever get scared of things that might happen, as Miriam did? 

When we let go of our fears,  we can truly trust in God.

Is there anything that you need to let go of?

A situation, a relationship, fears that you need to release? Whatever it is, we have a God who is able to do the unimaginable. Let His promises encourage you.

We can acknowledge our weakness by pointing to Jesus.

“But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

What can you do to elevate your courage and grow in your relationship with God?

“For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession”. Deuteronomy 4:2

For further thoughts, have you considered these women who also showed bravery as they protected and rescued Moses?

The Hebrew midwives Shiphrah and Puah who helped deliver Moses courageously defied the authority of Pharaoh by disobeying his wicked decree to kill the newborn Hebrew boys. These midwives jeopardized their own safety to protect and save the life of Moses and the other baby boys. They feared God more than they feared Pharaoh, and God blessed them because of their righteous actions—actions which were motivated by their reverence for God (Exod. 1:15-21).

Pharaoh’s daughter rescued Moses from the Nile, offered protection, and later adopted him as her own. We can assume that she would have encountered considerable difficulties in persuading other members of the Egyptian royal family to accept the Hebrew child as her adopted son. She was successful, however; and Moses was raised in the Egyptian royal palace where he received an excellent education as a student prince. His palace education, training, and experience would be very useful when Moses had the difficult task of leading the Israelites (Exod. 2:5-10; cf. Acts 7:21-22).

Each played a vital part in God’s overall plan for Moses.


Thank you, Lord, for the never-ending love that you shower upon us.  Thank you for giving us strength when we are weak, for giving us courage when we are afraid. Help us to be obedient and let go of our fears, knowing You have it all in Your hands. Give us a heart for Your word, to become a light for our paths as we are in difficult circumstances. Thank you for these women of the Bible who we can draw encouragement from as we see their stories and how they lived for You.