The picture above illustrates Exodus 15:20-21. Moses' sister Miriam takes a timbrel and leads the women in a song of rejoicing. In portraits the timbrel is often used as her attribute, as at right.
The oldest known image of Miriam is in the Dura Europos synagogue frescos. One panel shows her receiving the baby Moses from Pharaoh's daughter and passing him on to their mother Jochebed (Exodus 2:1-8). There are Christian images of the rescue, mostly including Miriam, from at least the 12th century through to the twentieth. In Exodus 15:20-21 she leads the Israelite women in a song of triumph after the Red Sea episode (image). In Numbers 12:1-16 she speaks against Moses and is punished with a temporary case of leprosy, a sentence also mentioned in Deuteronomy 24:9 (example). And in Numbers 26:59 she dies at Kadesh in the desert of Zin.
Prepared in 2018 by Richard Stracke, Emeritus Professor of English, Augusta University.
"The Canticle of Miriam," Seville Cathedral. See the description page.