First prophetess, named by Divine inspiration,
Daughter of Amram and Jochebed,
Child of Israel’s ghetto,
Citizen of the enslaved and groaning Hebrew nation,
Descended from God’s forgotten deliverer,
Student of a mother gifted with faith and ingenuity,
Abetting hope’s plot
Engendered by trust and maternal compassion,
Hidden baby-sitter for her beautiful brother
Tenderly thrown” to the mortal river
Cradled in papyrus, pitch and prayer;
Youthful liaison between oppressed society and baby-killing King,
Asking a history—changing question of the merciful baby-finder,
“Shall I get a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for you?”
She was hand-maid to God’s plan,
Restoring Moses to mother’s arms and tutelage
In a royal blanket of protection.
At ninety years she walked the Red Sea on dry land
In the triumphal progression of lamenting turned to praise—
The redeemed of the Lord said so!
“The Lord is my strength and my song;
He has become my salvation.
He is my god, and I will praise Him,
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a warrior;
The Lord is his name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army
He has hurled into the sea…
Your right hand, O Lord,
shattered the enemy.
In the greatness of your majesty
You threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.
Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you—majestic in holiness,
Awesome in glory, working wonders?”
Exiting the garrison of watery walls
Jubilant, with tambourine in hand,
Miriam directed the women’s antiphonal choir-
“Sing to the Lord
for He has triumphed gloriously;
The horse and his rider
He has thrown into the sea.”
The women’s tambourines responded in concert to her tempo.
Their dancing feet shook off the dust of Egypt
As Moses and the Israelites sang to the Lord,
“You will bring them in and plant them
On the mountain of your inheritance—
The place, O Lord, you made for your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.
The Lord will reign forever and ever.”
Can the same tongues that praise the Lord curse men
Who have been made in God’s likeness?
Miriam and Aaron talked against their brother,
“Has the Lord spoken only through Moses?
Hasn’t He also spoken through us?”
God heard His authority given to humble Moses challenged.
He summoned Moses, Aaron and Miriam to the Tent of Meeting;
As prosecutor, judge, and vindicator He convened the court.
The Lord, Who had spoken face to face with Moses,
Reprimanded Aaron and Miriam from His cloud,
Declared His faithful servant innocent,
Changed Miriam’s skin to leprous white.
Begging pardon for foolish sin,
Aaron entreated Moses for their sister.
Forgiving Moses cried, “O, God, please heal her!”
Sentenced was she to seven days isolation outside the camp
While fellow travelers waited; there was pause to reflect,
“Who among the gods is like you, O Lord?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
The Divine court reporter summarized the case for posterity:
“Remember what the Lord your God
Did to Miriam along the way
After you came out of Egypt.”
But on Micah’s pages, in retrospect,
The Lord’s words carve an epitaph
for his prophetess,
“I brought you up out of Egypt
and redeemed you from the land of slavery,
I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam.”