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Miriam the Prophetess

Miriam the Prophetess

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Miriam the Prophetess — Ex. 15:20,

Miriam the Prophetess — Ex. 15:20,

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 07, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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MIRIAM THE PROPHETESSBy C. J. BALDWI.Miriam the Prophetess — Ex. 15:20,MIRIAM IS the Mary of the Old Testament. Thenames are indentical, though the Hebrew and Greek forms differ. The original root conveys the idea of "bit-terness," as appears in the marah of the brackish watersin the wilderness, and the title Mara, chosen by aomi todescribe her forlorn and sorrowful plight. It is true thatthe name Mary is now hallowed forever by the honors of the Virgin Mother. But it should be remembered thateven she attained to her glory only through much tribula-tion. Miriam, the Hebrew and original appellation, was aname born of a melancholy time. It was one of the bit-ter fruits of the bondage in Egypt, bestowed on a child of slaves whose hearts were broken and bleeding.Amram and Jochebed were a wedded pair of the tribeof Levi, who lived toward the close of the long and dark oppression. Heirs of the promise of a Divine Covenant,they had experienced the abysmal humiliation of the clay-fields and the lash, where they had seen their kindred per-ish like animals in the dirt. They had heard the terribledecree [of extermination, and had seen babes torn fromtheir mothers' arms and put to death. All this, and morethat cannot be imagined, of cruelty and suffering. owonder then that to their first-born (happily a female) theyhad gfiven the name Miriam : it was a slave's protest andMiriam. 97monument against the "bitterness** of his lot. But inso doing they only furnished a new occasion for that over-
ruling Providence, whose benign compensations give tothe sufferer * * beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourn-ing, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness."Thus Miriam comes before us. She first appears asa child, ten years of age. Daughter of sorrow, meanlyclad, with the grime of servile labor on her little hands andfeet, she stands in pathetic relief against the dark back-ground of a people's misery. All around her the hovelsof the slave, the brickyards of their task-masters, thegraves of thousands of unpitied dead. This picture has,however, a larger and brighter frame, in the pride andpower of Egypt glowing grandly under the Tropic sun.Far and wide along the sacred valley of the ile, stand thecities and monuments and temples of the greatest nation inthe world. But all that magnificence was as nothing to thedegraded Hebrews, who saw in it only the elaboration of theirterrible prison house. Perhaps they imbibed from thatdread contrast, the aversion to the fine arts which has beena national characteristic of the Jews to the present day.(All of the sacred buildings of Palestine were the work of foreign architects.) And little Miriam, standing amid thereeds by the river bank, has no thought for the lordlystructures of temple and palace around her.What is she doing there — so near the edge of thegreat yellow stream ? She is watching something that liesamong the papyrus plants not far away. What is it ? Anopen basket-like fabric of woven reeds, coated externallywith bitumen that will resist the water, and lined with softstuffs within, contains an infant form carefully wrappedand bestowed in that fragile receptacle. What can this98 Miriam.mean? Oh the pity of it ! — the cruel story of jealous hatewhich has consigned all the male children of the slaves todestruction ! a doom to escape which the parents of Mir-
iam have devised this means of saving their first boy. Buthow will this avail — such an exposure to the elementsand the perils of the river? Look closely and you willsee evidences of careful planning here. This is no publicplace, open to anyone : nor is it a wild spot where prowl-ers might come. It is the appointed resort of royalty,whither the king's daughter comes for her regular bath,with her retinue. A pavilion and special facilities for suchpurposes are at hand. This particular place must havebeen well-known, as being thus highly favored ; and assuch it had been selected by the Hebrew mother, asthe scene of an experiment which the Lord had sug-gested to her mind. This was nothing less than toput her babe in the path of royal observation, withthe hope that some ray of royal favor might thus fall uponit. A daring plan indeed ! — one which no slave's heartcould have divised of itself. How remote the contingen-cy of help which it looked toward ! The probabilitieswere, humanly speaking, altogether against the success of such a maternal stratagem. But Divine Providence hadshaped that mother's thought, and was now presiding overthat little treasure — apparently placed by accident, butreally with the most thoughtful attention, just where it wason the river's edge. As another part of the plot, the littlegirl is stationed near by, to watch the progress of eventsand report to her waiting mother, who remains somewherein the background ; but not far away, we may be sure.Thus Miriam stands — a guardian, a sentinel. She lit-tle knows the tremendous nature of her trust, that she isMiriam. 99keeping watch over the fortunes of the future — the mostmomentous charge of history. But her position is a veryanxious one. She knows not what to look for. The king'sdaughter may come, for this is her regular bathing place ;and yet she may not. Others may come — a, patrol of sol-

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