Miriam & Tzipporah

You think you know me but you don’t.  

I am Miriam. The famous Prophetess. The leader of women singing and dancing  on the shores of the Reed Sea.  

I am Miriam. Famous sister of the arguably more famous Moses and Aaron.  Miriam, whose name is sometimes used - always in relation to them, never  standing on it’s own – and whose name is sometimes NOT used.  I am left out when the men are listed. Like all my mothers and sisters and  daughters. Sometimes we are simply unnamed. Most of the time, actually. If you think about it, it’s pretty incredible that you know who I am at all. 

Back then, everyone knew me.  

I WAS a famous Prophetess. And a healer. And I COULD find water where others  could not. Not a magic skill that one, just a different way of observing the world.  Other women could do it too – you just never hear about them. Other women  were diviners and healers. But they didn’t have famous brothers so there stories  are lost.  

Most of my story is lost too. That book you revere – it doesn’t tell you HOW I  became a prophetess. It doesn’t tell you HOW I found water. It doesn’t tell you  WHO taught me the healing herbs and how and when to apply them, and where  to find them, and how to store them. It doesn’t tell you about the other times I  danced with women. It doesn’t tell you about the women I led or the women I  taught or the women I loved. That book – it doesn’t tell you much of anything.  

I have stories too. The women told them. We tried to save our stories but no one  taught us how to write them down and they’ve been lost over time. Only the men  got to preserve their stories on papyrus scrolls in clay jars in dark caves. Only their  
stories and the small fragments of ours that they deemed worthy. But I have  stories. And if you look hard enough, and if you listen hard enough – you just  might find that they are not so different from yours.

You think you know me but you don’t. 

I am Tzipporah. Famous wife of the more famous Moses.  

You think you know the story: How I discovered Moses at the well and he saved me from the  brutes and watered my camels; How I took him home to my father who offered him my hand in  marriage; How I bore him two sons. I am the model of a perfect woman. Damsel in distress. Fertile producer of male progeny. 

But there is so much you don’t know. 

You don’t know what it was like to be abandoned by a husband who leaves you with two small  children so that he can go back to a land where he is a wanted murder because of something  some invisible God told him to do – to rescue a people that is not your people; to prioritize  children that are not your children. You don’t know that part of the story. 

Or the part where my father hears the news that the man who abandoned me and my children  is now a famous hero, and then forces us to travel to the middle of nowhere to be reunited  with this man – this man who welcomes my father with open arms but does not even  acknowledge his wife or his children. You don’t know what that felt like.  

Or what it felt like to suddenly go from being a quiet shepherdess the the wife of a leader of a  nation. Nothing was private anymore! I couldn’t go anywhere without people starting. And  don’t think they were only staring at me because I was Moses’ wife. I was also other. Different.  Foreign. I was not of this people and yet they were expected to regard me as a leader. But don’t  think I didn’t hear the whispers! 

Oh? you say – you didn’t know? You didn’t realise? Of course not. That book of yours – it didn’t  record that part. Moses wrote his story. Not mine. He wouldn’t have understood my story – the  story of a lonely woman; an abandoned woman; a displaced woman; a woman who is other. He  could not have understood that. 

But maybe you can? 
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