Adapted by Ben Moshe from the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebberebbe color

After describing the Song that Moses and the Children of Israel sang following the miraculous Crossing of the Red Sea, the Torah relates: "Miriam the Prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the tambourine in her hand, and the women followed her with tambourines and cymbals. Miriam said to them: sing to G‑d, the exalted..."

Why does the Torah refer to Miriam as a prophetess?

The Talmud explains the historical background, going back to the time when Miriam was the sister of (only) Aaron, as Moses had not yet been born. Miriam had then boldly declared with prophetic vision, "My mother will give birth to a son who will redeem Israel..."

But why is Miriam mentioned by her special "prophetess" title only here, but not in other places the Torah?

And why does the Torah find it necessary to single out Miriam's song from the rest of Israel? Isn't she already included as part of all the Jewish people?

To better appreciate Miriam's major contribution to the Exodus and Redemption, let us review Miriam's personal background, and the details of her story.

The word 'Miriam' is derived from tsichahe Hebrew word meaning 'bitter,' relating to the bitter times when she was born and raised.

Pressured by Pharoah's decree to kill all firstborn boys, Jewish families began to break apart, and Miriam's own parents Amram and Yocheved divorced. Amid all this despair and hopelessness, Miriam announced a divine prophecy: "My mother will give birth to a son who will save Israel." Inspired by their daughter's prophecy, Amram and Yocheved remarried. When the baby was born, the house was filled with light, and Amram kissed Miriam on the head, exclaiming: "My daughter! Your prophecy has come true!"

But three months later, when little Moses had to be hidden in the river among the reeds, her father tapped her on the head, demanding; "My daughter! Where is your prophecy?!"

This is why Miriam stood in the bulrushes 'from afar to know." Still watching and looking forward to the realization of G‑d's promise, she remained firm in the veracity of her prophecy..." (Midrash)

Miriam's pronouncement of the forthcoming Redemption at first excited the Jews suffering under Pharoah's harsh decrees and backbreaking labor. When the son was born, "the house was filled with light." Moshe was just a newborn baby, but Amram could already see the glimmer of prophecy in its infancy, in its initial.

But this great excitement was followed by great disillusion and disappointment. To avoid being caught by Pharaoh's soldiers who hunted down Jewish baby boys, Moses was placed in the river!

He is now finished, the prophecy seems to have gone down the drain, for Redemption is now impossible. All hope seems lost as Moshe, the intended redeemer of Israel is helplessly doomed.

Miriam's Vision

But Miriam refuses to change her stance. "She remains firm and strengthens herself in her prophecy." She knew that she didn't merely fabricate this prediction. These were Divine and holy words, and she faithfully clings to her prophecy: "My mother will give birth to a son who will save Israel." Imagine Miriam's predicament in those trying times, The young girl was surely the target of angry questions and doubts, constantly being teased and taunted, "where is your prophecy?"


The Torah considers it noteworthy that Miriam and the women did not only sing verbally, but that their singing was accompanied by ta   mbourines. Where did these tambourines come from? An instrument of gaiety and celebration, tambourines seem to be completely out of place during those dark and gloomy years of Egyptian oppression.

The Midrash states that they Jewish women had great vision and foresight, creating and designing tambourines as part of their preparation for the Exodus.

"The Jewish women of that generation were confident of Divine miracles, so they took along their tambourines from Egypt." Even during the darkest times of Exile, the righteous women knew that the Divine promise would be fulfilled, and they would eventually be redeemed.

Moreover, those faithful women translated the hope in their hearts into action. Rather than being merely vague wishful thinking, their belief in the Redemption was real and tangible, (as in the folksaying: "When praying for rain, carry an umbrella!")

Miriam knew with certainty, that regardless of how unrealistic the prospects for Redemption may have looked at the time, the Exodus was actually "right around the corner."

Miriam's song was a personal vindication and triumph over many years of doom and gloom. Miriam rejoiced and was thankful that her prophecy was finally proven right. Miriam and the women were fully ready for this great and auspicious moment.

Having strengthened and encouraged Israel's faith during the hard depressing times, these women fully deserved to herald the redemption, leaving Egypt with a song in their heart and tambourines in their hands. Miriam's song did not come up after the fact, as did the singing by all the rest of the people of Israel. Rather than being a result and effect of the miracle, her song of faith was truly the reason for the miracle and its very cause.

When celebrating the holidays, we declare in our prayers: "In those our time." May Miriam's song and her tambourine continue to inspire us to this very day, and may it strengthen our faith as we look forward to the coming of Moshiach, very soon.