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Micah 6:4 reads

כִּי הֶעֱלִתִיךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם וּמִבֵּית עֲבָדִים פְּדִיתִיךָ וָאֶשְׁלַח לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת־מֹשֶׁה אַהֲרֹן וּמִרְיָם
For I brought thee up out of the land of Miżrayim, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage; and I sent before thee Moshe, Aharon, and Miryam. (Koren Jerusalem Bible)

Nearly every English translation renders this verse in some variety of:

For I brought thee up out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of servants; and I sent before thee Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (KJV)

For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. (NRSV)

However the NIV curiously adds also into their translation:

I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. (NIV)

The NIV seems to be trying to diminish the importance of Miriam and Aaron in this verse. Is this to try to make the verse conform with the negative portrayal of Aaron and Miriam in Numbers 12/Deuteronomy 24? Is there textual support for this translation choice?

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  • I am at a loss to understand why the NIV translates this verse as it does. However, I do not think it diminished Aaron and Miriam.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jun 21 at 22:19
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    @Dottard I disagree. The majority translation gives all three personages equal weight. NIV makes Moses the leader, who is joined by Aaron and Miriam. Commented Jun 21 at 23:41

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That the NIV "tries" to diminish Aaron and Miriam is debatable; but I think it is certain that NIV does diminish them. With no apparent textual basis, it makes Moses the leader and relegates his siblings to assistants. As to why it does so, we would have to speculate. The most obvious possible reason is that NIV editors consider Moses to be the primary leader, while Aaron and Miriam are secondary. That Moses was the main leader is a fact, but this does not justify changing what the text states.

In addition, NIV may be prejudiced against Aaron and Miriam for their sin of criticizing Moses' marriage (Numbers 12:1) and/or Aaron's role in the episode of the Golden Calf. The Calf looms large in the low Christian estimate of Aaron, because Christians often know little about him beyond that famous scene. Jewish tradition gives him great honor as the founder of the priesthood, whom God continued to endorse and support in very clear terms throughout the Torah and Jewish history.

Finally, in Christian tradition, Moses is a much more prominent figure than Aaron and Miriam. Aaron is mentioned only once in the gospels, and Miriam not at all. Moses is mentioned dozens of times. In terms of the priesthood, Christianity gives greater glory to the priesthood of Melchizedek - who represents Christ (Hebrews 7) - than to Aaron's. The Aaronic priesthood in Judaism is not juxtaposed to that of Melchizedek or the Messiah.

As to the motivation of the NIV translators, all of this is merely a basis for speculation. Without communicating with the editors themselves, we simply cannot know for certain why the NIV translated Micah 6:4 as it does.

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