The mythic paradigm of the Exodus narrative describes the inexorable triumph of the life-force over death, of wholeness over brokenness. In this narrative, Miriam, sister of Moses, represents a key figure: she assists in the plan to rescue her vulnerable infant brother Moses from Pharaoh’s infanticide, watches over him as he floats in a basket in the Nile, and engineers the arrangement by which he is adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and nursed by his own mother.
Jewish legend teaches as well that after the Israelites had fled from enslavement in Egypt, they were accompanied on their journeys through the Sinai wilderness by a water source associated with Miriam. Wherever the people traveled, whatever travails they experienced along the way, Miriam’s well provided sustenance and healing. While such a well is not mentioned in the Torah itself, the classical rabbis inferred its existence because of the sudden absence of water after the death of Miriam.