Miriam’s death (verse 20:1) is juxtaposed with another water crisis:
The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron. The people quarrelled with Moses, saying, “If only we had perished when our brothers perished at the instance of YHVH!…” (Numbers/Bamidbar 20:2-3)
This juxtaposition is one of the sources for the concept of “Miriam’s Well,” a movable source of water that followed the Israelites due to Miriam’s merit. (The cloud of glory, accompanying the Ark, was in Aaron’s merit; the manna, in Moses’ [Talmud tractate Ta’anit 9a].) For more on Miriam’s Well — including 15 traditional sources and one modern study — see entry #496 in Tree of Souls by Howard Schwartz (Oxford University Press, 2004).
This volume — available in hardcover, new or used, and in e-book — is a terrific source for “mythology” or “folklore.” It offers 670 topic entries, each with traditional and contemporary source notes. In addition, Schwartz offers a thorough introduction on the concept of mythology, its development in Judaism and parallels between Jewish and other mythologies. It is easily searchable, via a topic-tree table of contents, and infinitely peruse-able.
The “Opening the Book” series was originally presented in cooperation with the independent, cross-community Jewish Study Center and with Kol Isha, an open group that for many years pursued spirituality from a woman’s perspective at Temple Micah (Reform). “A Song Every Day” is an independent blog, however, and all views, mistakes, etc. are the author’s.
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