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Numbers 12:4-10

Context
The Response of the Lord

12:4 The Lord spoke immediately to Moses, Aaron, and Miriam: “The three of you come to the tent of meeting.” So the three of them went. 12:5 And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent; he then called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward.

12:6 The Lord 1  said, “Hear now my words: If there is a prophet among you, 2  I the Lord 3  will make myself known to him in a vision; I will speak with him in a dream. 12:7 My servant 4  Moses is not like this; he is faithful 5  in all my house. 12:8 With him I will speak face to face, 6  openly, 7  and not in riddles; and he will see the form 8  of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” 12:9 The anger of the Lord burned against them, and he departed. 12:10 When 9  the cloud departed from above the tent, Miriam became 10  leprous 11  as snow. Then Aaron looked at 12  Miriam, and she was leprous!

1 tn Heb “he.”

2 tn The form of this construction is rare: נְבִיאֲכֶם (nÿviakhem) would normally be rendered “your prophet.” The singular noun is suffixed with a plural pronominal suffix. Some commentators think the MT has condensed “a prophet” with “to you.”

3 tn The Hebrew syntax is difficult here. “The Lord” is separated from the verb by two intervening prepositional phrases. Some scholars conclude that this word belongs with the verb at the beginning of v. 6 (“And the Lord spoke”).

4 sn The title “my servant” or “servant of the Lord” is reserved in the Bible for distinguished personages, people who are truly spiritual leaders, like Moses, David, Hezekiah, and also the Messiah. Here it underscores Moses’ obedience.

5 tn The word “faithful” is נֶאֱמָן (neeman), the Niphal participle of the verb אָמַן (’aman). This basic word has the sense of “support, be firm.” In the Niphal it describes something that is firm, reliable, dependable – what can be counted on. It could actually be translated “trustworthy.”

6 tn The emphasis of the line is clear enough – it begins literally “mouth to mouth” I will speak with him. In human communication this would mean equality of rank, but Moses is certainly not equal in rank with the Lord. And yet God is here stating that Moses has an immediacy and directness with communication with God. It goes beyond the idea of friendship, almost to that of a king’s confidant.

7 tn The word מַרְאֶה (mareh) refers to what is seen, a vision, an appearance. Here it would have the idea of that which is clearly visible, open, obvious.

8 tn The word “form” (תְּמוּנָה, tÿmunah) means “shape, image, form.” The Greek text took it metaphorically and rendered it “the glory of the Lord.” This line expresses even more the uniqueness of Moses. The elders saw God on one special occasion (Exod 24:10), and the people never (Deut 4:12, 15), but Moses has direct and familiar contact with God.

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

10 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.

11 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).

12 tn Heb “turned to.”



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