Numbers 12:12
Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.
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(12) Let her not be as one dead.—This is another of the places in which the Scribes are said to have altered the text. The original is said to have been as follows:—Let her not be as one dead, who proceeded from the womb of our mother, and half of our flesh be consumed. The leper was “as one dead” in two respects—(1) as being shut out from inter course with his brethren; and (2) as causing ceremonial defilement in the case of those who were brought into contact with him, similar to that which was caused by touching a dead body. “He was,” as Archbishop Trench has remarked, “a dreadful parable of death” (On the Miracles, p. 214). In the most severe types of leprosy there was, as the same writer has observed, “a dissolution, little by little, of the whole body, so that one limb after another actually decayed and fell away” (Ibid, p. 213).

12:10-16 The cloud departed, and Miriam became leprous. When God goes, evil comes: expect no good when God departs. Her foul tongue, as Bishop Hall says, was justly punished with a foul face. Aaron, as priest, was judge of the leprosy. He could not pronounce her leprous without trembling, knowing himself to be equally guilty. But if she was thus punished for speaking against Moses, what will become of those who sin against Christ? Aaron, who joined his sister in speaking against Moses, is forced for himself and his sister, to beseech him, and to speak highly of him whom he had so lately blamed. Those who trample upon the saints and servants of God, will one day be glad to make court to them. It is well when rebukes produce confession of sin and repentance. Such offenders, though corrected and disgraced, shall be pardoned. Moses made it appear, that he forgave the injury done him. To this pattern of Moses, and that of our Saviour, who said, Father, forgive them, we must conform. A reason is given for Miriam's being put out of the camp for seven days; because thus she ought to accept the punishment of her sin. When under the tokens of God's displeasure for sin, it becomes us to take shame to ourselves. This hindered the people's progress in their march forward towards Canaan. Many things oppose us, but nothing so hinders us in the way to heaven, as sin.As one dead - leprosy was nothing short of a living death, a poisoning of the springs, a corrupting of all the humors, of life; a dissolution little by little of the whole body, so that one limb after another actually decayed and fell away. Compare the notes at Leviticus 13.11-13. On the humble and penitential submission of Aaron, Moses interceded for both the offenders, especially for Miriam, who was restored; not, however, till she had been made, by her exclusion, a public example [Nu 12:14, 15]. As one dead; either naturally, because part of her flesh was putrefied and dead, and not to be restored but by the mighty power of God; or morally, because she was cut off from all converse with others, Leviticus 13:46.

When he cometh out of his mother’s womb; like an untimely birth, without due shape and proportion, or like a still-born child that hath been for some time dead in the womb, which when it comes forth is white and putrefied, and part of it consumed.

Let her not be as one dead,.... As she was in a ceremonial sense, being to be shut up and excluded from the society of people, and as defiling by touching as a dead carcase; and, in a natural sense, her flesh, by the disease upon her, was become as dead flesh, putrid and rotten, and unless miraculously cured it would issue in her death:

of whom the flesh is half consumed, when he cometh out of his mother's womb; like an abortive, or one stillborn, that has been dead some time in its mother's womb; and therefore when brought forth its flesh is almost wasted away, or at least half consumed: and in such a plight and condition was Miriam already, or quickly would be, through the force of her disease.

Let her not be as one {g} dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother's womb.

(g) As a child that is stillborn, as if it is only the skin.

12. be as one dead] i.e. become so by the terrible effects of the spreading disease.

Verse 12. - As one dead. Rather, "as the dead thing," i.e. the still-born child, in which death and decay have anticipated life. Such was the frightful effect of leprosy in its last stages. Numbers 12:12When Aaron saw his sister smitten in this way, he said to Moses, "Alas! my lord, I beseech thee, lay not this sin upon us, for we have done foolishly;" i.e., let us not bear its punishment. "Let her (Miriam) not be as the dead thing, on whose coming out of its mother's womb half its flesh is consumed;" i.e., like a still-born child, which comes into the world half decomposed. His reason for making this comparison was, that leprosy produces decomposition in the living body.
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