Numbers 12 New International Version (NIV) Miriam and Aaron Oppose Moses 12 Miriam(A) and Aaron began to talk against Moses because of his Cushite wife,(B) for he had married a Cushite. Footnotes: Numbers 12:10 The Hebrew for leprous was used for various diseases affecting the skin. Cross references: Numbers 12:1 : S Ex 15:20 Numbers 12:1 : S Ex 2:21
ESV - 1 Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.
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My understanding is that the verse cited in the question is the only place in the Bible where Moses' Cushite wife is mentioned. She is apparently not Zipporah (Moses' wife mentioned in Exodus 2:15-22), since Zipporah was a Midianite. The Jewish historian Josephus indicated that, while Moses was still living in Egypt as part of Pharaoh's household (Exodus 2:1-10), he commanded an army of Egypt in a war with Ethiopia (also known as Cush), and married a Cushite woman named Tharbis (who would not have been Jewish) at that time. It is also possible (or even likely) that Tharbis was dark-skinned, so there may have been an element of racism (in addition to the religious issue) behind Miriam and Aaron's comments. However, the main motivators of Miriam's and Aaron's comments against Moses were their personal pride (perhaps especially in the case of Miriam, because of her role as Moses' older sister in the sparing of Moses' life as an infant) and their envy of his calling by God, which led them to attempt to denigrate Moses and elevate themselves in the eyes of the people. Their reference to the Cushite woman was a pretext that they seized upon in that regard. (In singling out Miriam (rather than Aaron, whom God had chosen to be the father of the priesthood) to afflict with leprosy as punishment for her presumption, God may have been indicating this increased culpability on her part.)
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