Miriam’s name has two meanings, both of which exemplify the qualities of her character.

The first, from the Hebrew root mar, is “bitterness.”

Witnessing the murders and the torment around her, she wept with her brethren, praying incessant prayers, and hoping beyond hope for a better future.

Personally exposed to the decrees of the wicked Pharaoh, no one could understand the bitterness of the exile better than Miriam.

Another meaning of Miriam’s name is “rebellion” (from the root meri).

Despite being born into the most difficult period of oppression, Miriam rebelled from an early age against the slave mentality engulfing her people.

Though she felt their pain acutely, she would not succumb to fear or despair. Though she was exposed to abject cruelty, she would not yield to moral corruption or apathy.

Standing watch on the bank of the Nile, as the future of her entire nation hung in balance, never did her faith in redemption falter.

As the leader of the women, Miriam imbued their aching hearts with this quality. And it was this quality that empowered the righteous women to be the purveyors of the redemption.

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Even in the darkest moments of struggle and challenge, we can choose to fan and nurture the small flame of belief and courage.