After the Israelites were delivered from bondage in Egypt, they became God’s servants and were required to worship him. Animal sacrifices were not optional and were required on a continual basis until the Messiah came. In order for the sacrifices to be made there had to be a large population of priests to maintain the tabernacle and later the temple of God.
The tribe of Levi was selected to fulfill the roles of priests and musicians and were given the job of guarding the ark that contained the Ten Commandments. Moses and Aaron were from the tribe of Levi. Their sister Miriam is the only woman listed in the genealogy of the Levites found in 1 Chronicles, chapter 6.
Miriam is mentioned several times during the Exodus from Egypt. Her role as prophetess is unique for the time in which she lived. She is the only woman that had a special role during the Exodus. The name Miriam means rebellious (4812) and is derived from a word that means bitterness (4805). At one point, Miriam and Aaron challenged Moses’ calling and she was punished with leprosy.
Miriam was clearly a strong willed woman and may have been abused by the Egyptians. As a prophetess, she probably proclaimed God’s word boldly and did not hesitate to join in activities typically reserved for men. She is most likely mentioned in the genealogy because she distinguished herself from other women in her service of God and unlike the men who were required to serve God, she served him voluntarily.