Numbers Chapter 10

The children of Israel were given commandments and instruction from the Lord, in part, as preparation for their journey to the promised land. They were promised guidance from the Lord, if they would be obedient to the commandments given. The instruction from the Lord, continues as follows:

1 And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.
5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.
6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.
7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.
8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations.
9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.
10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the Lord your God.

Moses was commanded to make two silver trumpets for calling assemblies, and to announce that the movement of the camp. When blown by the priests of Aaron, not as an alarm, both of the trumpets were a call for the gathering of the assembly, at the door of the tabernacle. One trumpet alone, was a call for the princes, or heads of the tribes, to gather. The trumpets could also sound an alarm, for the camp to the east to move, followed by the camp to the south if a second alarm was given. The trumpets were a physical representation of the people of the Lord, and when they blew them in battle, God promised they would be remembered and saved from their enemies. These were trumpets to be used at the feast of the trumpets also.

11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
12 And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
13 And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.

The time finally came for them to begin their journey, and the cloud was lifted from the tabernacle to signal their movement. They were led out of Sinai, to the area of Paran. They traveled according to the commandments of the Lord, given to them by the prophet Moses.

14 In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.
15 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
16 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon.
17 And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle.

They traveled in the order given to them by the Lord, with the camp of Judah including the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Then the tabernacle was taken down and carried forward.

18 And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur.
19 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
20 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel.
21 And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.

Then, the camp of Reuben traveled, including the tribe of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad. Followed by those who carried the sanctuary. The footnote of verse 21 reads, “the tabernacle was set up before their arrival.” I’m not exactly sure the order, but I find it interesting that they would arrive at the place where the cloud rested, raise the tabernacle, and then the camps of Israel would come and rest there. Having the tabernacle there first, would have made it possible for them to make the tabernacle the center and focus of the tabernacle. Also, I imagine it would have been a comfort to know that the presence of the Lord was there waiting for them to come unto Him.

22 And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies: and over his host was Elishama the son of Ammihud.
23 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
24 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.

Then came the camp of Ephraim, including the tribe of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

25 And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rearward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
26 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran.
27 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.
28 Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their armies, when they set forward.

And finally, the camp of Dan journeyed, including the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali.

29 And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you: come thou with us, and we will do thee good: for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.
30 And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.
31 And he said, Leave us not, I pray thee; forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.
32 And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee.

Moses asked his brother-in-law to come with them, to the promised land. Hobab, son of Raguel, otherwise known as Jethro, refused the offer in order to return to his own land. Moses pleaded for his to remain with them as eyes, or as a type of guide for the people. Moses promised him that he would be blessed if he remained with them.

33 And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days’ journey: and the ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days’ journey, to search out a resting place for them.
34 And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.
35 And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.
36 And when it rested, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.

I think I had imagined that the ark was to the center of their camps, but this teaches us that the ark of the covenant went before them. It says the ark searched out a resting place for them. I think this would have been an important reminder, that the covenants they made with God, were going to help them reach the promised land. They had a cloud with them during the day as they journeyed, just as they had been promised. This cloud was probably both a guide and a protection to them from the physical things around them. Moses called upon the Lord, to go before them and keep their enemies from them by day, and to rest with them by night. I think this was the prayer of Moses on the behalf of his people.

The Israelites were led by the Lord every day of this journey. They had to trust in His guidance, and they needed to trust that he would provide all the necessities of life for them. This experience was to be a trial of faith for these people, I am sure. I am grateful for the trials of faith in my own life, because they make me a better person. The promise that the spirit of the Lord can be with those who make and keep sacred covenants with God, is the thing that gives me strength and comfort. I know that I can get through anything, with the help of the Lord on my side. The pattern of life for the Israelites, is a good example to me of how we can depend on the Lord for everything, and He will be there anytime we seek after Him. He is waiting for us to come unto Him and find rest from the journey of life.

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