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Numbers 12:9-12

Context
12:9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he departed. 12:10 When 1  the cloud departed from above the tent, Miriam became 2  leprous 3  as snow. Then Aaron looked at 4  Miriam, and she was leprous!

The Intercession of Moses

12:11 So Aaron said to Moses, “O my lord, 5  please do not hold this sin against us, in which we have acted foolishly and have sinned! 12:12 Do not let her be like a baby born dead, whose flesh is half-consumed when it comes out of its 6  mother’s womb!”

1 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) is here introducing a circumstantial clause of time.

2 tn There is no verb “became” in this line. The second half of the line is introduced with the particle הִנֵה (hinneh, “look, behold”) in its archaic sense. This deictic use is intended to make the reader focus on Miriam as well.

3 sn The word “leprosy” and “leprous” covers a wide variety of skin diseases, and need not be limited to the actual disease of leprosy known today as Hansen’s disease. The description of it here has to do with snow, either the whiteness or the wetness. If that is the case then there would be open wounds and sores – like Job’s illness (see M. Noth, Numbers [OTL], 95-96).

4 tn Heb “turned to.”

5 tn The expression בִּי אֲדֹנִי (biadoni, “O my lord”) shows a good deal of respect for Moses by Aaron. The expression is often used in addressing God.

6 tc The words “its mother” and “its flesh” are among the so-called tiqqune sopherim, or “emendations of the scribes.” According to this tradition the text originally had here “our mother” and “our flesh,” but the ancient scribes changed these pronouns from the first person to the third person. Apparently they were concerned that the image of Moses’ mother giving birth to a baby with physical defects of the sort described here was somehow inappropriate, given the stature and importance of Moses.



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