Jealousy of his power was at the bottom of their complaining. How good a man Moses must have been when even those who knew him best could find no fault with him except that he had married a foreign lady, against whom they had nothing to allege but that she was an Ethiopian.
Moses must have felt the jealousy of his brother and sister very keenly, but he did not fight his own battle, he left the matter to God, who observed with indignation the wanton envy of the ungenerous pair.
Some other hand has inserted this verse under divine direction. Moses would not have said it of himself, but the Lord took care that somebody else should record it, for he honours those who honour him. As Moses was meek he did not strive for himself, and therefore the Lord became his champion.
The suddenness of the interference marks the importance of the matter, and the Lord’s anger concerning it.
Aaron had been faulty in the matter of the golden calf, and therefore he ought to have been very quiet, and Miriam’s sex should have sufficed to make her modest; yet, envy thrust both these good persons into a bad spirit, and then into a false and sinful position. Above all things, let us shun envy, for it is cruel as the grave. If God chooses to make other men greater and more honourable than ourselves, what right have we to question his prerogative?
This was the surest token of his anger. His presence is heaven, his absence misery to his children.
If Aaron had been made a leper he could not have executed his office; but Miriam’s disease was a punishment to both, and possibly she had also been the chief offender.
Miriam wounded Moses with her tongue, and now Moses uses his tongue to cry, “Heal her now, O God.” This is the true way to heap coals of fire on the heads of those who injure us. We must pray for those who despitefully use us.
Incases of extreme provocation an eastern father would spit in his child’s face, and then the child was banished from the father’s presence for seven days: how much more then should Miriam be shut out of the camp for awhile when she had so grossly offended, and against the Lord, and had received so terrible a mark of the divine displeasure.
This shewed their respect for her, and their grief at her sickness.