Numbers 2, camping and marching order

Discussion in '2003 Archive' started by Barry and Helen Setterfield, Jan 14, 2003.

  1. Barry and Helen Setterfield

    Barry and Helen Setterfield
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    The following notes are taken from the NIV Study Bible. After checking about a hundred websites, they were the most condensed and informative notes we found. Lacking any diagram we could find on the net, here is a rough idea of how both the camping and marching line-ups were to be executed.

    ENCAMPMENT (north is up)

    ----------Naphtali ---- Asher ---- Dan* ---------

    Ephraim* ............................................. Judah*

    Manasseh............TABERNACLE.............. Issachar

    Benjamin ............................................. Zebulun

    ---------- Gad -----Simeon ------Reuben* --------

    .

    MARCHING (front is top)

    .........LEVITES CARRY THE ARK............

    ....Judah.............Issachar............Zebulun....

    GERSHONITES AND MERARITES CARRY THE TABERNACLE...

    ....Reuben.............Simeon...............Gad......

    KOHATHITES CARRY THE TABERNACLE FURNISHINGS...

    ....Ephraim..............Manasseh..........Benjamin...

    ......Dan..................Asher.............Zebulun...

    ==============

    In Numbers 1, the nation is mustered, and the genealogical relationships are clarified. In Numbers 2 the nation is put in structural order, and the line of march and place of encampment are established. The numbers of chapter 1 are given in a new pattern and the same leaders are named here again.

    Each man was to know his exact position within the camp. Each tribe had its banner, and each triad of tribes had its standard. Jewish tradition suggests that the tribal banners corresponded in color to the 12 stones in the breastpiece of the high priest (Exodus 28:15-21). Tradition also holds that the standard of the triad led by Judah had the figure of a lion, that of Reuben the figure of a man, that of Ephraim the figure of an ox and that of Dan the figure of an eagle (see the four living creatures described by Ezekiel 1:10 and Revelation 4:7). But these traditions are not otherwise substantiated.

    The leaders in the marching order and the tribes encamped to the east of the Tabernacle were the fourth, fifth, and sixth sons of Jacob and Leah. Although Reuben was Jacob's firstborn, he, as well as Simeon and Levi, had failed in moral integrity (Genesis 49:3-7) and thus Judah became the leader. It was also through Judah that the Messianic line would come.

    The next in marching order, and camping to the south of the Tabernacle, were the first and second sons of Jacob and Leah and the first son of Jacob and Zilpah: Reuben, Simeon, and Gad.

    The third son of Jacob and Leah, being Levi, was not included in the standard marching order but was divided, with its specific divisions being responsible for the Tabernacle and encamped around it.

    The "Rachel tribes", Joseph and Benjamin, were on the west. Joseph's two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, received a special blessing from their grandfather Jacob, but the younger son, Ephraim, was given precedence over Manasseh (Genesis 48:5-20), thus there are three tribes from two sons: Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin.

    Finally, encamped to the north of the Tabernacle, and last in marching order, were the tribes of the two sons of the the maidservant Bilhah and the second son of Zilpah. Dan is the first son of Bilhah, Asher is the second son of Zilpah, and Naphtali is the second son of Bilhah.

    In Numbers 24:5 we will see the comment by Balaam, "How beautiful are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel!"
     
  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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