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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Numbers 10

Verses 1-10

NUMBERS-CHAPTER TEN

Verses 1-10:

The text defines the occasions for blowing the trumpets. This is not the same as that recorded in Le 25:9, where the instruments were of different shape, material, and purpose.

"Trumpet," chatsotserah, a long, straight, narrow instrument with an expanded bell or "mouth." In this text, each trumpet was made of a single piece of silver, beaten and shaped into the desired form.

The purpose of sounding these two trumpets:

1. To assemble the whole congregation of Israel before the Tabernacle. Evidently both trumpets were used for this occasion.

2. To assemble the princes only, by the sound of only one trumpet

3. To alert and ready the people for traveling. At the first sound or "alarm," teruah, those camped to the east of the Tabernacle moved out. At the sound of the second, those to the south of the Tabernacle began their march. The text implies, and the Septuagint inserts in verse 6, that those to the west and the north followed in like order.

Different notes or cadences were sounded for each of the different occasions.

The sons of Aaron, the priests, were in charge of sounding the silver trumpets.

Verse 9 provides that use of the trumpets was to be continued after Israel had settled in the Land. Likely, additional instruments were then provided.

The silver trumpets were to be sounded:

(1) To mobilize the military forces in event of enemy attack;

(2) On special national holidays which were also observed with religious services;

(3) At the beginning of each month;

(4) In conjunction With the Burnt Offerings and Peace Offerings, Nu 28:11-23.

"Ye shall be remembered before the Lord your God," implies that one purpose of the blowing of the silver trumpets was to remind God of His covenant, and to invoke His mercy and grace.

Verses 11-13

Verses 11-13:

Israel’s journey from Sinai toward Canaan began on the twentieth day of the second month of the second year after the Exodus. This was the first move following the dedication of the Tabernacle, and was from Sinai to a location in the Wilderness of Paran.

Scripture does not give the precise location of this site. Paran is first mentioned in Ge 14:6, as "El-Paran." It apparently was in the central region of the Sinai Peninsula. Ishmael and his descendants lived in this area, Ge 21:21. Other references to Paran are: Ge 14:6; Nu 12:16; 13:26; 1Sa 25:1; De 33:2; Hab 3:3.

Verses 14-17

Verses 14-17:

First in the line of march was the group under the standard or flag of Judah, consisting of the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, Nu 2:3-9. Each tribe was under the command of its prince, Nu 1:7-9.

The "armies" refers to the three tribes in each "host" or division, each an army within itself.

Following the first "host," in the line of march, were the Levitical families of Gershon and Merari, transporting the boards, curtains, and other heavy appurtenances of the Tabernacle. These were loaded on the six wagons which Israel’s princes had provided for that purpose, Nu 7:1-8.

The general provision of chapter 2:17 was that the Tabernacle was to occupy the position between the second and third divisions in the line of march. However, it appears God allowed flexibility in implementing these instructions.

The chart in the comments on chapter 2 will be helpful in understanding the arrangement of the various tribal groupings.

Verses 18-21

Verses 18-21:

Next in the line of march was the "host" under the standard or banner of Reuben: the tribes of Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, each tribe under command of its prince, Nu 2:10-16; 1:5, 6, 14.

Following the standard of Reuben was the Levite family of Kohath. They carried the "sanctuary," migdash, in this case refering to the furniture of the Tabernacle, Nu 3:27-32; 4:2-20.

Verse 21 explains the reason for separating the Levite families in the line of march: the Gershonites and Merarites following the first, and the Kohathites following the second "host." This allowed time for the boards and curtains of the Tabernacle to be in place by the time the sacred furniture arrived on the shoulders of the Kohathites.

Verses 22-24

Verses 22-24:

Following the Kohathites in the line of march was the standard of Ephraim, consisting of the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. Each tribe was under the command of its prince, Nu 2:18-24; 1:10, 11.

Verses 25-28

Verses 25-28:

Bringing up the rear of Israel’s march was the host under the standard of Dan, consisting of the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, each under the command of its prince, Nu 2:25-31; 1:12, 13, 15.

The logistics of Israel’s march demanded order and strict discipline among all the tribes. Nothing was left to chance. This confirms that God is the God of order.

God Himself prescribed the arrangement of Israel’s camp and march. He placed each tribe in the position He deemed best. There is no record of any complaint over this order. This teaches that God places each child of His in the position of service He knows is best for him. There should be no complaint over this arrangement, 1Co 12.

Verses 29-32

Verses 29-32:

"Raguel" is the Septuagint and Vulgate variation of "Reuel." He is here identified as Moses’ father-in-law, as in Ex 2:18-21. However, Ex 3:1 names Moses’ father-in-law as Jethro. There is no conflict.

(1) Reuel (Raguel) is likely a title, meaning "God is friend."

(2) Jethro is likely a proper name, meaning "pre-eminence."

It was not uncommon in Bible times for one man to be known by two different names, or by a name and a title.

Hobab was a son of Reuel, and a brother to Moses’ wife Zipporah. He likely accompanied his father on the visit to Moses at Sinai, Ex 18, and remained with Moses and Israel after Jethro returned home.

Moses urged Hobab to accompany Israel to the Land of Promise. One reason for this was that Hobab was likely familiar with the country through which they would travel, and he could serve as a scout and guide for Israel, verse 31. This implies a lack of faith on Moses’ part; Jehovah had promised to lead Israel, and with this assurance there was no need for human direction.

Moses promised God’s blessings upon Hobab, if he would accompany Israel to their Land. This was in keeping with God’s covenant with Abraham, Ge 12:3; 27:29.

The text does not tell or record Hobab’s answer to Moses’ invitation. Jg 1:16 states that the descendants of Hobab lived in the southern border of the Land, in the territory of Judah.

Verses 33-36

Verses 33-36:

The text marks the actual departure from Sinai. This initial stage of their journey was a distance of three days’ journey. This is estimated to have been about thirty miles, a journey of about ten miles a day. It covered a desert stretch between the camp at Sinai and the campsite in the Wilderness of Paran.

"The ark of the covenant went before them" appears to be in conflict with Nu 2:17, and verse 21, which directs that the Ark was to be among those articles which the Kohathites carried, in the midst of the line of march.

It is true that the usual place of the Ark was in the midst of the marching order. However, this was a special occasion, and God at times did direct that the Ark go in front of the column, see Jos 3:1-4.

The "cloud . . . was upon them by day" suggests that the guiding cloud served also as a shade from the burning desert heat.

Verse 35, "when .the ark set forward," indicates that on this occasion, the Ark did lead the way for Israel’s march. When the Ark stopped, the entire column stopped. When the Ark moved, the entire column moved.

Moses’ prayer at the beginning of the day’s march is echoed in Psalm 68.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Numbers 10". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/numbers-10.html. 1985.