New Defender's Study Bible Notes
12:1 the Ethiopian woman. Presumably this woman was Zipporah (Exodus 2:21; 4:25), the daughter of Jethro, since there is no other indication that Moses had more than one wife. However she is also called a Midianite (Exodus 2:16), and this leaves her identity somewhat uncertain. Ethiopia is Cush in Hebrew, and the Cushites originally settled on the western shores of Arabia, before moving across the Red Sea to Ethiopia, being gradually replaced by the Midianites. Thus, the Cushites and Midianites probably experienced considerable intermingling and intermarriage in the process. Habakkuk 3:7 indicates that Cushan and Midian were sometimes considered equivalent.
12:10 white as snow. There may be an ironic note in this judgment, with Miriam’s sudden “whiteness” contrasting with the dark-skinned woman she had criticized. More likely, however, her complaint was that Moses had married outside the nation of Israel and she was trying to use this as an excuse to usurp Moses’ place of leadership.
12:14 spit in her face. This was not a command for a father to do this, but simply a recognition that this was a common practice in the Middle East, as an expression of sharp rebuke and contempt for the actions of a grossly disobedient child.