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St. Miriam


Commemorated on December 17

Miriam (meaning “beloved” or “love”) was the sister of Moses and Aaron, and the daughter of Amram and Jochebed. She first appears in the book of Exodus in the Old Testament.

It was Miriam who, at Jochebed’s request, hid Moses (then a baby) by the side of a river to evade the Pharaoh’s order that newborn Hebrew boys be killed. She watched as the Pharaoh’s daughter discovered the infant and decided to adopt him. Miriam then suggested that the princess take on a nurse for the child, and suggested Jochebed. As a result, Moses was raised to be familiar with his background as a Hebrew. (Exodus 2:1-10)

Miriam is called a prophetess, and composed a brief victory song after Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the Red Sea (Exodus 15:20-21): “Sing to the Lord, for he has Triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.”

Later, Miriam objected to the marriage of Moses to a Cushite woman, which made her guilty of gossiping, for which she was struck with leprosy. The law demanded that Miriam live in isolation, and she was only allowed back when Moses interceded with God on her behalf. When Aaron asked him to intercede for her, Moses uttered a five-word prayer, “O Lord, make her well,” and she recovered within seven days.

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