Dancing with Miriam

Then the prophet Miriam, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand; and all the women went out after her with tambourines and with dancing. And Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” Exodus 15: 20-21

I love reading the story of Exodus because I believe it is universal. It seems to me that these beautiful tales of the Israelites bravely escaping slavery, wandering in the desert for forty years, and coming to the promised land of freedom is indeed the story of the movement of human history. In our own way, each individual and community is somehow moving from slavery to wandering to freedom.

In your individual or communal history,

Tell me about a time of captivity:

Tell me about a time of wandering:

Tell me about a time of freedom:

This passage comes right after the Israelites escape slavery under the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh’s chariots are swallowed up by the sea, but the Israelites walk through the sea on dry ground. They have a long road ahead, they are far from knowing the freedom of being home, but they are slaves no longer. After Moses leads the Israelites in a song to the LORD, Miriam takes the women to go dancing.

One has to wonder, “In the moments before their escape, who thought to pack the tambourines?” I mean really! Yet this scene, of women claiming their freedom with music and dancing is glorious and believable. Human history is saturated with examples of slaves preserving a culture of song and dance.

What modern day music genres and dance can be traced back to oppressed groups?

There have been many news stories lately about oppression against women. Sex trafficking of young girls is on the rise. Catholic nuns are receiving pressure from the Vatican. The gender wage gap is still embarrassingly wide in many professions. I love these two little verses in Exodus because they evoke such a beautiful, powerful visual of free women. I can picture Miriam, the prophet, leading the women in unabashed song of celebration. It is a visual that I am going to carry through my week. I love the truth in the verses, the fact that no one can be truly free until the women are finished dancing.

Where else do you see women struggling for freedom?

Photo courtesy of Lawrence OP via Creative Commons License
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