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Miriam and Aaron rebelled against Moses because they took exception to his marriage to an Ethiopian woman.

Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.

Barnes speculates in his commentary:

Miriam, as a prophetess {compare Ex 15:20,21} no less than as the sister of Moses and Aaron, took the first rank among the women of Israel; and Aaron may be regarded as the ecclesiastical head of the whole nation. But instead of being grateful for these high dignities they challenged the special vocation of Moses and the exclusive authority which God had assigned to him. Miriam was the instigator, from the fact that her name stands conspicuously first, {Nu 12:1} and that the punishment {Nu 12:10 } fell on her alone. She probably considered herself as supplanted, and that too by a foreigner. Aaron was misled this time by the urgency of his sister, as once before (Exodus 32) by that of the people.

      The Ethiopian woman whom he had married was a Cushite (in Hebrew, Ethiopian = “Cushite,” compare Genesis 2:13 10:6). It is likely that Zipporah {Ex 2:21} was dead, and that Miriam in consequence expected to have greater influence than ever with Moses. Her disappointment at his second marriage would consequently be very great.

      The marriage of Moses with a woman descended from Ham was not prohibited, so long as she was not of the stock of Canaan; {compare Ex 34:11-16} but it would at any time have been offensive to that intense nationality which characterized the Jews. The Christian fathers note in the successive marriage of Moses with a Midianite and an Ethiopian a foreshadowing of the future extension to the Gentiles of God’s covenant and its promises; {compare Ps 45:9, So 1:4 } and in the complaining of Miriam and Aaron a type of the discontent of the Jews because of such extension: compare Luke 15:29,30.

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