Miriam and Jyn Erso

Rogue One was a great movie that, in my opinion, did a great job of exploring a small part of the greater Star Wars story. The original Star Wars hinted at a great sacrifice having been made to get a hold of the Death Star plans – without which, Luke wouldn’t have gotten very far on his epic journey that now spans 4 movies (I don’t count Revenge of the Sith). As it turns out, getting the Death Star plans was a great adventure and I am better off for having heard the story.

In every story, there are little bits of plot here and there that hint at great backstories. The nerd in me loves to explore all those little backstories, so I’m glad to see them popping up in movies from lots of different franchises. But as I sat down to read the Bible to write my sermon this week, I realized again how many of these little backstories in the Bible go unexplained. One of the easiest examples to offer – the lack of stories about Jesus’ childhood – gave early Christians great opportunities to fill in the blanks (just check out some of the Infancy Gospels). Sometimes, however, the backstories that go unexplained seem like more important pieces of the puzzle. (I’m looking at you, 1-2 Kings – every time I read “now the rest of his acts, are they not written in the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah”, I want to scream. Maybe they are, but we lost that one!)

Perhaps the greatest set of backstories to be left out of the Bible are those of the many women who touch the biblical narrative. Sure, we have Ruth and Esther who have their own books. But many, many women aren’t given the time of day (or even named). Today, my thoughts are with Miriam. The word “Miriam” appears 13 times in the whole Bible, and she remains unnamed in the story of Moses’ birth in Exodus 2. Of those times she was mentioned by name, 7 of them appear before she dies, 1 is from the report of her death, 3 are from genealogical lists, 1 is a warning to not be like her, and the last is when God claims her as a savior of Israel. Here is, basically, what we know of her story:

  • She guards baby Moses in the basket and convinces Pharaoh’s daughter to let Moses’ mother raise him (Exodus 2)
  • She is named a prophet and celebrates crossing the Red Sea (Exodus 15)
  • She speaks out against Moses and gets leprosy (Number 12)
  • She dies (Numbers 20)

Obviously, there’s a lot that’s missing. For instance, how did she go from sister to prophet? There’s got to be a good backstory in there. We have no record of her prophecy, but we know that she was a strong leader – all of the women followed her lead. Did she go from house to house sowing seeds of insurrection among the Hebrews enslaved in Egypt? Did she help Moses face Pharaoh? We many never know. And what led to her condemning Moses for marrying a Cushite woman in Numbers 12? She was such an important figure by that point that the entire nation of Israel refused to move on until she had been healed of the leprosy that God punished her with for speaking against Moses. When she died, did the people mourn her? How long was she sick, what did she die of, how old was she when she died, did she have children? All of these things would make for a great story, but because the authors of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy didn’t agree, we will never know. They assumed that the men were more important to the story, and that no one would want to hear about what Miriam or many other women did.

Well, guess what. I want to know. When does “Rogue One: A Miram Story” come out?