Why didn’t Aaron also become a leper?

Hi everyone,

Just preparing for my Sunday School lesson (teaching Grade 4!) and I’m doing a lesson on Numbers 12 where Miriam becomes a leper. I see that both Aaron and Miriam spoke out against Moses marrying and Ethiopian woman. Does anyone know why she was the only one stricken with leprosy, while Aaron seems to get away Scott-free? Why didn’t Aaron also become a leper? It could be that I’m just not spending enough time reading critically to see the answer, but any help would be appreciated!

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I found this article to be helpful:

I’m not a scholar and don’t know ancient Hebrew, but just a scan on Bible Hub to reference the verse I did find that the phrase ‘talk against’ (criticize) is a feminine verb, so it is possible that Miriam was the instigator.

Aaron may not have received leprocy, but God did call him out together with Miriam. I do believe God is just in His judgement, so perhaps the case in this article stands to reason. Important to note, Aaron repented and confessed the sin both he and Miriam committed when seeing the skin disease on his sister, Miriam did not. I have to wonder if God was reaching these two in ways He knew would be most impactful.

This may or may not be helpful for your lesson, but I think it is a good idea to share with young believers that we don’t always see clearly why God responds they way he does in scripture. We do see that he is involved, and in this story He does discipline Moses’ siblings for speaking against God’s servant which is an important lesson: God is involved in our spiritual growth and disciplines His children, Hebrews 12:7-8. I do not doubt that, as a loving father knows, God knew what was needed to reach these two appropriately.

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10 As the cloud lifted from above the Tent, suddenly Miriam became leprous,a white as snow. Aaron turned toward her, saw that she was leprous, 11 and said to Moses, “My lord, please do not hold against us this sin we have so foolishly committed. 12 Please do not let her be like a stillborn infant whose flesh is half consumed when he comes out of his mother’s womb.”

Not sure! Great question! It appears Aaron was quick to ask for Moses forgiveness after he saw his sister…my gut feeling…without being sure …she said some terrible things against her brother and possibly started it.

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@Christian The article linked by @jkrahn points out a few key things that I think are very helpful. I’ve also linked a more in depth analysis of the Hebrew from the NET Bible below.

  • the word speak is feminine here, meaning Miriam was the main speaker
  • Miriam is listed before Aaron - every other place in Scripture Aaron is listed first, meaning Miriam is the main actor here
  • Aaron could not have functioned as high priest if struck by leprocy according to Leviticus, so God may have spared Aaron to allow him to intercede for Miriam

The preposition ב (bet) has the adversative sense here, “[speak] against” (see also its use for hostile speech in [21:5], [7]. Speaking against is equal to the murmuring throughout the wilderness period. The verb of the sentence is וַתְּדַבֵּר (vattdabber), the feminine form of the verb. This indicates that Miriam was the main speaker for the two, the verb agreeing with the first of the compound subject.

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I simply believe that true repentance changes things Instantly In regards to judgement of the condemned. Ninevah for one was saved through genuine national repentance. Aaron new that his judgement was coming and he repented and Moses asked for mercy before it did. Some believe that he cried out when it started to affect him. That is speculative but true repentance is a biblical priciple. Even when the bible states
‘touch not mine annointed and do my prophets no harm’

Thanks for the insight and the article reference! I never considered that “talk against” in Hebrew in this context was feminine (being from Canada and having to learn French I should have clued in on this).

I definitely agree with you that God is just in His judgement, like it says in Psalm 119, “For I know, O Lord, that thy judgements are right.” I like your point about God communicating to Miriam and Aaron in the way He best knew that He would reach them, and thanks for pointing out that Miriam didn’t confess or repent of her transgression. This is helping to me to think more thoughtfully about this lesson and about scripture going forward.

That’s a very good point - being quick to ask forgiveness seems to be a key component in being a Christian, and I see that Miriam didn’t ask for forgiveness at all. I forgot to mention the “quick to ask forgiveness” part to my Sunday School students. I’ll briefly review the lesson with them again next week and mention that part to them.

Thanks!

Thanks Sean for pointing me to this article and for giving me the highlights!

I agree with you. It definitely changed things for Miriam :slight_smile:

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