Another of Henderson's milk-and-water, embroidered women-of-the-Bible portraits--centering on the woman identified in Exodus...

READ REVIEW

MIRIAM

Another of Henderson's milk-and-water, embroidered women-of-the-Bible portraits--centering on the woman identified in Exodus as ""the sister of Aaron"" and a ""prophetess."" Before the exodus, sister Miriam is the slave/companion of Moses' foster-mother, aging Egyptian princess Hapithet, who (like Miriam) yearns for Moses' return from the desert. Moses does return, and Miriam hears the words she longs to hear: though Aaron will talk for Moses, and Yahweh will protect him, Miriam will be the one to ""listen and share."" (""This, this was what she wanted; to be important to Moses."") So it is Miriam who arranges a Moses audience with Pharaoh; during the plague of flies Moses understands Miriam's pity for the old Princess and her acts of compassion; on the trek into the desert, Miriam and her niece Isha are put in charge of the single women; and it's Miriam who foresees Yahweh's pillar of cloud and flame, singing the victory songs after the Red Sea crossing. However, in spite of miracle upon miracle (the manna from heaven, the water from the rock, the harvest of birds), the multitude do complain: ""How much are we supposed to endure--or has this whole crazy thing just been something that Moses dreamed up?"" Miriam will find her confidence shaken when Isha falls in love with a Cushite, when Moses follows suit--taking away from Miriam the care of her two beloved nephews. And when Miriam suggests the golden calf to Aaron (""make them some sort of little statue. . . tell them it represents the God of Israel""), it's obvious that she's due for a fall: her famous comeuppance comes as Yahweh brings Aaron and Miriam to heel, punishing the overproud woman with a week's worth of leprosy and banishment; but here, too, the lesson is drawn--that through Miriam's consciousness of her ""sinning,"" her loneliness and misery, can come Divine comfort. Bland vernacular inspiration for a conservative audience.

Pub Date: June 22, 1983

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1983