How was Moses “very meek?”


by Shawn Brasseaux

We have all heard about Numbers 12:3: “(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.).” How exactly was Moses very meek?

It would do us well to read the entire chapter before we comment: “[1] And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. [2] And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. [3] (Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) 

“[4] And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. [5] And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. [6] And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. [7] My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. [8] With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?

“[9] And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. [10] And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. [11] And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. [12] Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. [13] And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. [14] And the LORD said unto Moses, If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again.

“[15] And Miriam was shut out from the camp seven days: and the people journeyed not till Miriam was brought in again. [16] And afterward the people removed from Hazeroth, and pitched in the wilderness of Paran.”

Moses’ meekness is juxtaposed with his siblings’ pride. His sister Miriam and their brother Aaron were self-willed. They wanted to lead God’s people with Moses, but God had not appointed them or suggested they assume that role. God Himself had ordained Moses: Moses had not taken it upon himself to lead Israel. Moses had not chosen to become God’s prophet to Israel. The LORD God had commissioned Moses as His prophet and leader of Israel (Exodus chapter 3), but Miriam and Aaron wanted to share in that capacity. (A similar rebellion will break out with Korah and his followers in chapter 16 of Numbers.) How awesome it would be to rule two million people! To Korah, Miriam, Aaron, and the other dissenters, such an office was irresistible!

However, we are not to suppose that Moses was sinless, or that he did not feel pride at times. He was just as human as we are, prone to sin. Nevertheless, he was God’s spokesman to Israel, and God had chosen him as His vessel. Moses grew impatient and lost his temper many times—and you would have too if you were dealing with two million sinners during a 40-year ministry! The most famous sin of Moses is when he smote the rock when God had instructed him to speak to it.

See chapter 20 of Numbers: “[2] And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. [3] And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the LORD!….

“[7] And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, [8] Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. [9] And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. [10] And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? [11] And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.

“[12] And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them. [13] This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and he was sanctified in them.”

Also see:
» Is it permissible for us to be proud of our accomplishments?
» “Become as little children… to enter the kingdom of heaven?”
» Why did God want to kill Moses in Exodus 4:24?