Strong Jewish Women 7 -- Miriam the Prophet
Miriam -- Leader of the Women
During the 40 years that the Children of Israel were in the desert (and even before), Miriam acted as a leader of the Women. When G-d saved the Children of Israel from destruction at the hands of the Egyptians, Miriam led the women in songs of praise thanking G-d.
Miriam the Prophetess
A Leader for Her People
Miriam started off life working for the women of Israel as a midwife. She helped get her parents back together by reminding her father that Pharaoh had decreed on the boys and he was "decreeing" on the girls too (her father, Amram, had separated from her mother, Yocheved, because Pharaoh had decreed that all boys born to the Children of Israel would be put to death by being thrown into the Nile River).
Miriam was watching her brother Moshe (Moses) when their mother put him in a basket in the Nile River. Miriam noticed that the daughter of Pharaoh (called Batya or Bitya by commentaries) when she found Moshe and Miriam jumped up and told Batya that she knew a good wet nurse and Batya agreed to use Yocheved as a wet nurse for Moshe.
Miriam's role in the community grew as she did. When her brother Moshe was leader of the people, she was a spiritual "Mother" to her people. When the Children of Israel were freed from slavery in Egypt, the Egyptians followed them to the Yam Suf (generally translated as the Red Sea) and the Sea opened up for the Children of Israel to pass through but then came down on the Egyptians.
After the men sang in thanks to G-d for their redemption and for saving them from death at the hands of the Egyptians, Miriam took the women and they sang and danced, praising and thanking G-d.
During the time that the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years, they had a well and that was on Miriam's merit. When Miriam died, the well disappeared.
Miriam was a shining light to the people and an example to the women of a strong woman, one who was a leader in a time when female leaders were few. She stands to us, 3000+ years later, as a image of what being a woman means.
Weaving together Jewish lore, the voices of Jewish foremothers, Yiddish fable, midrash and stories of her own imagining, Ellen Frankel has created in this book a breathtakingly vivid exploration into what the Torah means to women.Here are Miriam, Esther, Dinah, Lilith and many other women of the Torah in dialogue with Jewish daughters, mothers and grandmothers, past and present. Together these voices examine and debate every aspect of a Jewish woman's life -- work, sex, marriage, her connection...
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