Rav Avira taught: In the merit of the righteous women that were in that generation, the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt.
(15) The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, (16) saying, “When you deliver the Hebrew women, look at the birthstool: if it is a boy, kill him; if it is a girl, let her live.” (17) The midwives, fearing God, did not do as the king of Egypt had told them; they let the boys live. (18) So the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and said to them, “Why have you done this thing, letting the boys live?” (19) The midwives said to Pharaoh, “Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women: they are vigorous. Before the midwife can come to them, they have given birth.” (20) And God dealt well with the midwives; and the people multiplied and increased greatly.
The verse states: “And the king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives, of whom the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah” (Exodus 1:15). Rav and Shmuel disagree as to the proper interpretation of this verse. One says that these midwives were a woman and her daughter, and one says that they were a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. According to the one who says that they were a woman and her daughter, the women were Jochebed, the mother of Moses and Aaron, and her daughter, Miriam... And why was she called Shiphrah? Because she would prepare [mishapperet] the newborn. Alternatively, she is referred to as Shiphrah because the Jewish people increased and multiplied [shepparu verabbu] in her days, due to her assistance. The baraita continues: With regard to Puah, who is referred to in the verse, this is really a reference to Miriam. And why was she called Puah? Because she would make a comforting sound [po’a] as she would remove the child from the womb of the mother. Alternatively, the word Puah is related to one of the verbs that describe speaking, as she would speak [po’a] through divine inspiration and say: In the future, my mother will give birth to a son who will save the Jewish people.
(1) A certain man of the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman. (2) The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw how beautiful he was, she hid him for three months. (3) When she could hide him no longer, she got a wicker basket for him and caulked it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child into it and placed it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. (4) And his sister stationed herself at a distance, to learn what would befall him. (5) The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe in the Nile, while her maidens walked along the Nile. She spied the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to fetch it. (6) When she opened it, she saw that it was a child, a boy crying. She took pity on it and said, “This must be a Hebrew child.” (7) Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a Hebrew nurse to suckle the child for you?” (8) And Pharaoh’s daughter answered, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. (9) And Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will pay your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it.
And there went a man of the house of Levi. Where did he go? R. Judah b. Zebina said that he followed the counsel of his daughter. A Tanna taught: Amram was the greatest man of his generation; when he saw that the wicked Pharaoh had decreed 'Every son that is born you shall cast into the river', he said: In vain do we labor. He arose and divorced his wife. All [the Israelites] thereupon arose and divorced their wives. His daughter said to him, 'Father, your decree is harsher than Pharaoh's; because Pharaoh decreed only against the males whereas you have decreed against the males and females. Pharaoh only decreed concerning this world whereas you have decreed concerning this world and the World to Come. In the case of the wicked Pharaoh there is a doubt whether his decree will be fulfilled or not, whereas in your case, though you are righteous, it is certain that your decree will be fulfilled, as it is said: You shall also decree a thing, and it shall be established unto you!" He arose and took his wife back; and they all arose and took their wives back.
If so then it should be written, he re-took instead of took? Said R. Juda b. Zabina: "This means that he made a real wedding ceremony, he made her sit under a canopy with Aaron and Miriam dancing before her while the ministering angels recited, (Ps. 113, 9) The joyful mother of children."
(20) Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her in dance with timbrels. (21) And Miriam chanted for them: Sing to Adonai, for God has triumphed gloriously; Horse and driver God has hurled into the sea.
Rashi on Exodus 15:20
Miriam, the prophetess, took. Where was it that she prophesied? It was when she was [only] Aharon’s sister, before Moshe was born. She [then] said: “My mother is destined to give birth to a son, etc
Rashi on Exodus 15:21
Miriam chanted for them. Moses sang the song for the men — he would say it and they would respond after him. And Miriam sang the song for the women.
Who are the seven prophetesses? Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther...
Miriam, as it is written (Exodus 15:20) "And Miriam the prophetess, sister of Aaron, took..." And not the sister of Moses? Rav Nahman said in the name of Rav: Because she prophesied as the sister of Aaron saying, "in the future my mother will give birth to a son who will save Israel". And in the hour in which [Moses] was born, the entire house was filled with light. Her father stood up and kissed her on her head. He said to her, "my daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled."
And when they threw him into the river, her father stood up and slapped her upon her head and he said to her, "my daughter, where is your prophecy?" Thus it is written (Exodus 2:4) "His sister stationed herself at a distance to know..." To know what would happen with the end of her prophecy.
מרים הנביאה, “Miriam the prophetess;” the word “prophetess” is used here to describe Miriam’s extraordinary ability to use words to express her feelings. According to Rash’bam, the word is also used as describing someone who preaches to people to behave morally and ethically correctly. Compare when G-d told Moses that his brother Aaron would be נביאך, which can hardly mean: “your prophet,” as Moses outclassed him in that department.
(1) The Israelites arrived in a body at the wilderness of Zin on the first new moon, and the people stayed at Kadesh. Miriam died there and was buried there. (2) The community was without water, and they joined against Moses and Aaron.
And as on account of the innocency of Miriam a well had been given, so when she died the well was hidden, and the congregation had no water.
Three good leaders had arisen for Israel, namely, Moses, Aaron and Miriam, and for their sake three good things were conferred [upon Israel], namely, the Well, the Pillar of Cloud and the Manna. The Well, for the merit of Miriam; the Pillar of Cloud for the merit of Aaron; the Manna for the merit of Moses. When Miriam died the well disappeared, as it is said, And Miriam died there, and immediately follows [the verse], "And there was no water for the congregation"; and it returned for the merit of the [latter] two.
מה נקרא שמו שער המים שבו מכניסין צלוחית של מים [של ניסוך] בחג ראב"י אומר [בו] (יחזקאל מז) מים מפכים [מלמד שמפכפכין ויוצאין כמו הפך הזה] ועתידין להיות יוצאין מתחת מפתן הבית...
...וכך היתה הבאר שהיתה עם ישראל במדבר דומה לסלע מלא [כברה] מפרפרת ועולה כמפי הפך הזה עולה עמהן להרים ויורדת עמהן לגאיות מקום שישראל שורין הוא שורה כנגדן במקום גבוהה כנגד פתחו של אהל מועד נשיאי ישראל באין וסובבין אותה במקלותיהן ואומרים עליה את השירה (במדבר כא) עלי באר ענו לה עלי באר והמים מבעבעין ועולין כעמוד למעלה וכל אחד ואחד מושך במקלו איש לשבטו ואיש למשפחתו [שנא' (שם) באר חפרוה שרים וגו'
וגם היא סובבת את כל מחנה ישראל ומשקה את כל הישימון] שנאמר (שם) ונשקפה על פני הישימון והיא נעשה נחלים שנאמר (תהילים עח) ונחלים ישטפו הן יושבין באיספקאות ובאין זה אצל זה שנאמר (תהילים קה) הלכו בציות נהר
העולה דרך ימין [עולה] דרך ימין
[העולה] דרך שמאל [עולה] דרך שמאל [כן מים מתמצין הימנה היא] נעשית נחל גדול והולכין לים הגדול ומביאין [משם] כל חמדת העולם שנאמר (דברים ב) זה ארבעים שנה [ה' אלהיך עמך] לא חסרת דבר.
So the well, which was with Israel in the wilderness, was like a rock of the size of a k'bara, and was oozing out and rising as from the mouth of this flask, travelling with them up the mountains and going down with them to the valleys. Wherever Israel encamped it encamped opposite them before the door of the Tabernacle... If Israel went up on the right, it would come down on the right; if on the left, it would come down on the left. The waters which emptied themselves from it became a great river, pouring themselves into the Mediterranean, and bringing thence all the precious things of the world, as it is said, "These forty years Adonai your God has been with you; you have lacked for nothing." (Deuteronomy 2:7)
At that time also the waters they drank in the desert due to the merit of Miriam, will assume the taste of any liquid they will fancy.
(ו) עֲשָׂרָה דְבָרִים נִבְרְאוּ בְעֶרֶב שַׁבָּת בֵּין הַשְּׁמָשׁוֹת, וְאֵלּו הֵן, פִּי הָאָרֶץ, וּפִי הַבְּאֵר, וּפִי הָאָתוֹן, וְהַקֶּשֶׁת, וְהַמָּן, וְהַמַּטֶּה, וְהַשָּׁמִיר, וְהַכְּתָב, וְהַמִּכְתָּב, וְהַלּוּחוֹת. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, אַף הַמַּזִּיקִין, וקְבוּרָתוֹ שֶׁל משֶׁה, וְאֵילוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, אַף צְבָת בִצְבָת עֲשׂוּיָה:
(6) Ten things were created on the eve of the [first] Sabbath at twilight, And these are they:  The mouth of the earth [that swallowed Korach in Numbers 16:32],  The mouth of the well [that accompanied the Israelites in the Wilderness in Numbers 21:17],  The mouth of the donkey [that spoke to Balaam in Numbers 22:28–30],  The rainbow [that served as a covenant after the Flood in Genesis 9:13],  The manna [that God provided the Israelites in the Wilderness in Exodus 16:4–21],  The rod [of Moses],  The Shamir [worm that helped build the Temple without metal tools],  The letters,  The writing, and  The tablets [of the Ten Commandments]. And some say: Also the destructive spirits, And the burial place of Moses, our teacher, And the ram of Abraham, our father. And some say: Also the [first human-made] tongs, made with [Divine] tongs.
זאֹת כּוֹס מִרְיָם, כּוֹס מַיִם חַיִּים, זֵכֶר לִיצִיאַת מִצְרָיִם.
Zot Kos Miryam, kos mayim chayim, zeicher litziat Mitzrayim
Cup of Miriam
Miriam’s Cup is filled with water. It serves as a symbol of Miriam’s Well, which was the source of water for the Israelites in the desert. This is a newer tradition, which reflects what is taught in the Talmud: “If it wasn’t for the righteousness of women of that generation we would not have been redeemed from Egypt.” (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 9b)
There are many legends about Miriam’s Well. It is said to have been a magical source of water that followed the Israelites for many years because of the merit of Miriam. The waters of this well were said to be healing and sustaining. Thus Miriam’s Cup is a symbol of all that sustains us through our own journeys, while Elijah’s Cup is a symbol of a future Messianic time.
èPass Miriam’s Cup around your table, and have each participant pour some water into the cup. As you add your water, name a woman in your life who has been influential and meaningful to you.
We say together: “This is the Cup of Miriam, the cup of living waters. Let us remember the Exodus from Egypt. These are the living waters, God’s gift to Miriam, which gave new life to Israel as we struggled with ourselves in the wilderness. Blessed are You God, Who brings us from the narrows into the wilderness, sustains us with endless possibilities, and enables us to reach a new place.”