Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Numbers
Book: Numbers
Chapter: 12

God rebukes the Murmuring of Aaron and Miriam. (1-9) Miriam
struck with Leprosy, and healed at the Prayer of Moses. (10-16)

1-9 The patience of Moses was tried in his own family, as Well
as By the people. The pretence was, that he had married a
foreign Wife; but probably their pride was hurt, and their envy
stirred up, By his superior authority. Opposition from our near
relations, and from religious friends, is most painful. But this
is to be looked for, and it will be Well if in such
circumstances we can preserve the gentleness and Meekness of
Moses. Moses was thus fitted to the work he was called to. God
not only cleared Moses, but praised him. Moses had the Spirit of
Prophecy in a way which set him far above all other prophets;
yet he that is least in the kingdom of Heaven, is greater than
he; and our Lord Jesus infinitely excels him, Heb 3:1. Let
Miriam and Aaron consider whom it was they insulted. We have
reason to be afraid of saying or doing any thing against the
servants of God. And those are presumptuous indeed who are not
afraid to speak evil of dignities, 2Pe 2:10. The removal of
God's presence is the surest and saddest token of God's
displeasure. Woe to us, if he depart! he never departs, till By
Sin and folly we drive him from us.

10-16 The Cloud departed, and Miriam became leprous. When God
goes, evil comes: expect No good when God departs. Her foul
tongue, as Bishop Hall says, was justly punished with a foul
Face. Aaron, as Priest, was Judge of the Leprosy. He could not
pronounce her leprous without trembling, knowing himself to be
equally guilty. But if she was thus punished for speaking
against Moses, what will become of those who Sin against Christ?
Aaron, who joined his sister in speaking against Moses, is
forced for himself and his sister, to beseech him, and to speak
highly of him whom he had So lately blamed. Those who trample
upon the saints and servants of God, will one Day be glad to
make Court to them. It is Well when rebukes produce Confession
of Sin and Repentance. Such offenders, though corrected and
disgraced, shall be pardoned. Moses made it appear, that he
forgave the injury done him. To this pattern of Moses, and that
of our Saviour, who said, "Father, forgive them," we must
conform. A reason is given for Miriam's being Put out of the
Camp for Seven days; because thus she ought to accept the
Punishment of her Sin. When under the tokens of God's
displeasure for Sin, it becomes us to take shame to ourselves.
This hindered the people's progress in their march forward
towards Canaan. Many things oppose us, but nothing So hinders us
in the way to Heaven, as Sin.