Numbers 12

Talks for Growing Christians

A Sin of the Wilderness: Criticism

Numbers 12

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Lesson Number 14

Background Notes

Doctrinal Point(s)

  1. The sin of criticism results from jealousy in the human heart.
  2. The sin of criticism results in the delay of God’s people.

Practical Application

  1. Remember, the Lord hears what you don’t want Him to hear.


  1. Who wrote the book of Numbers?
  2. How could Moses write of himself in verse 3 that he was the most humble man on earth?
  3. On what basis were Miriam and Aaron criticizing Moses?
  4. What was the reason behind their criticism?
  5. Is God against interracial marriage?
  6. Why did only Miriam become leprous and not Aaron also?


  1. Moses wrote Numbers, and the other books of the Pentateuch.
  2. There are three possible explanations: 1. Since God was the divine Author of this book, He led Moses to write it under inspiration 2. Another inspired writer may have added this verse later 3. In Moses’ day, humility was not as outstanding a virtue as it is today.
  3. They criticized his person and position. They criticized his marriage and his leadership.
  4. Jealousy
  5. God is not against interracial marriage. Here He chastises Miriam and Aaron for criticizing Moses’ marriage. Moses was married to a Cushite, or Ethiopian, woman. The Cushites were descendants of Ham, while Moses was a descendant of Shem.
  6. In the original Hebrew, the verb “spoke” in verse 1 is feminine singular. This indicates Miriam instigated the criticism of Moses.


  1. Miriam and Aaron had high positions in the camp of Israel, as prophetess and high priest, respectively. Yet they were jealous of Moses and used their jealousy to criticize his person and position. Often when we are jealous of someone we try to lower their position by criticizing their person or position. Has this been true in your life? How can you stop yourself the next time you are tempted to criticize someone?
  2. Moses did not take revenge on Miriam and Aaron when they criticized him. He left it to God, and God stepped in and punished them. Read Romans 12:19. It is hard not to seek revenge when we are wronged. How can we remind ourselves to leave it to the Lord and let Him bring out the truth?


  1. Miriam was punished with leprosy for criticizing Moses. Yet Moses prayed to the Lord to heal her (Numbers 12:14). Do you have this attitude toward people who have wronged you? Forgive someone who has wronged you this week.

Key Verses

  • “Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all men who were on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3
  • “Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant Moses?” Numbers 12:8
  • “So Miriam was shut out of the camp seven days, and the people did not journey till Miriam was brought in again.” Numbers 12:15

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