A WOMAN OF VALOR
And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. Exodus 15:20
One of the most joyous moments in the story of the Book of Exodus and perhaps in the entire Bible is the singing and rejoicing that occurred just after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea. This was the climactic moment of what had begun as a wayward prince demanding the freedom of an oppressed people and ended with the most spectacular miracles that the world has ever seen on behalf of the downtrodden Israelites. God’s hand was never so apparent, and the people rejoiced for the good that He had done for them.
Let’s picture the scene: The Israelites finished crossing the sea and they watched as the Egyptian enemies got closed. Suddenly, the sea crashed down on the entire Egyptian army! Not only were the Israelites now safe, but they were also free! The Egyptians would never be able to pursue them again. In thanksgiving, Moses led the people in a beautiful song of praise to God. Just as he finished, his sister Miriam led the women in song. And what’s this? They were dancing and making music, too!
But where in the world did the women get those timbrels from in the middle of the desert? Did these instruments fall from the sky?
The Jewish writings are a beautiful explanation. They say that the Israelite women, in their great faith, prepared these instruments while in Egypt while still enslaved. Led by Miriam, the women refused to give up the hope that the day of salvation will come. Their faith led them to make these instruments so that they would be ready to celebrate!
Miriam’s name had two meanings. It comes from the Hebrew word that means mara, “bitter.” Miriam was born into bitter times of slavery. But the name Miriam is also related to the Hebrew word meri, “rebellion.” Miriam rebelled against the bitterness in her life. She would not accept it – she refused to submit to hopelessness or depression. She lived her life with complete faith that the bitterness would be sweetened. And indeed it was!
Let us remember that it is not enough to talk about faith: we need to be willing to act on our faith. That means making life’s decisions based on faith in God and taking actions that fit with His purpose. Our faith must be turned into actions that reflect God’s Word and promises.