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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 10

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-36



We have seen in the cloud and the fire the providential guidance of God over His people. Yet we are not left to depend totally upon this, for now the trumpets speak of the plainly declared word of God, as we are reminded in 1 Corinthians 14:8, "For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for the battle?" The trumpets therefore were to be sounded jut as the Lord instructed, so that their message would not be mistaken.

They were to be made of hammered or beaten work (v.2), symbolizing suffering, for obedience to the word of God will always involve suffering of some kind. If both trumpets were blown, this was the signal for all the congregation of Israel to gather before Moses at the door of the tabernacle (v.3). There were occasions when all must be present to hear some special message from the Lord. If only one trumpet was blown, this was to summon the leaders of each tribe, no doubt to hear a message that was not necessary for the congregation generally. For instance, only apostles and elders were called together inActs 15:2; Acts 15:2 to consider the question of whether Gentile believers should conform to the law of Moses. Then they conveyed God's decision to the people generally.

When about to travel, an alarm (or advance) was blown (v.5), the first alarm signaling the movement of the camps on the east side, the second alarm calling for the movement of those on the south side (vs.5-6). Nothing is said as to the north and west sides. Perhaps it is to be understood that the alarm was blown the third and fourth time for these. At the coming of the Lord, His word will be a clarion call to summon all believers away from earth to His own glorious presence. Wonderful it will be to hear Him say, "Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away" (Song of Solomon 2:10).

The sons of Aaron were those designated to blow the trumpets, therefore it was priestly work (v.8). Those who were habitually engaged in sanctuary service, being thus near to the Lord, where those who would have proper discernment from God as to what was necessary and becoming in these things. Though all believers are priests today, we cannot say that all have the discernment necessary in functioning as priests. May we learn what it means to so function. If, on entering their land, it was necessary to engage in warfare, then the trumpets were to sound an alarm. Let us remember too that we are to engage in conflict only when called by the word of God to do so. If God is leading, we too, as Israel, will be saved from our enemies (v.9).

Also, at the set times of Israel's appointed feasts, and at the beginning of each month, the trumpets were to be sounded in drawing attention to their burnt offerings and peace offerings, just as the word of God draws our special attention to the sacrifice of Christ as that which brings glory to God for eternity (the. burnt offering). and that by which believers are brought into the fellowship with the Father and the Son (the peace offering). The sin offering and trespass offering are not mentioned here, for though they are important as to Christ's bearing our sins and breaking the power of sin, yet they do not speak primarily of worship and fellowship, as do the burnt and peace offerings.



The preparations taking place at Sinai, the giving of the law, the building of the tabernacle, instructions as to offerings, the setting in place of priests and Levites, etc. have now been completed, so that what follows is the history of the wilderness journey of Israel. Before this, God had made preparations of grace and government for them; now we are to see how the people respond to this in their wilderness history.

About one year and five weeks after the Passover in Egypt the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, so that Israel began their journey following the cloud. They left the wilderness of Sinai only to enter the wilderness of Paran. Egypt symbolizes the world in its proud independence of God, boasting it its own sufficiency. But the wilderness is the world as a believer finds it to be in experience, a place barren and destitute of true blessing. For the believer has a new nature that desires things that the world cannot provide, and if he does not set his mind on things above, where Christ sits on the right hand of God (Colossians 3:1-2), he cannot be content nor happy, for the world around him has nothing to satisfy his need. So Israel ought to have set their minds on God's promise of the blessing of the land of Canaan, which was set before them as in incentive for obedience to Him.

The tribes set out on the journey in the order God had prescribed, Judah first, its leader being Nahshon the son of Amminadab (vs.14-15); Issachar, with Nethaneel son of Zuar leading (v.15; the Zebulon with its leader Eliab the son of Helon (v.16). When these had moved the tabernacle was taken down, and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set out, carrying the tabernacle (v.17). The tribe of Reuben was next, with Elizur son of Shedeur leading (v.18); then Simeon and its leader, Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai (v.19); then God with Eliasaph the son of Deuel leading (v.20). Following Gad were the Kohathites carrying the furniture of the tabernacle, so that on their arrival the tabernacle would have been prepared for them. Thus the Kohathites would be in the middle of the procession, with the holy things having a central place.

Ephraim next began their journey, having Elishama the son of Ammihud as leader (v.22); then Manasseh being led by Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur (v.23); then Benjamin with its leader Abidan the son of Gideoni. Dan followed with its leader Ahiezer the son of Amishaddai (v.25); then Asher and its leader Pagiel the son of Ocran (v.26); and finally Naphthali, led by Ahira the son of Enan (v.27). All of this shows that God is a God of order. Although in the Church of God there is no physical order such as this involved at all, yet God's instructions in scripture, as for instance in 1 Corinthians, are plain enough that we have no excuse if we do not do all things decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40). Not that any man is in charge to control the saints, but the Lord is in authority and each individual has the Spirit of God by whose influence all may be subject to the Lord, thus maintaining godly order in spiritual unity.

Verse 29 speaks of Moses asking Hobab, son of Reuel to come with Israel. Hobab was the brother of Moses' wife Zipporah. No doubt it was simply because of this relationship that Moses requested him to come. Before the law was given, Jethro (known as Reuel also) had come to Moses and advised him to delegate authority to others in Israel, then had returned to his own land (Exodus 18:17-27). We do not know when Hobab had come, but he told Moses he would not go with Israel, but would return to his own land (v.30).

Moses nevertheless urged him, because Hobab knew something of the country they would pass through, and he could be "eyes" for Israel. Besides, Moses promised him, they would treat him well, as the Lord treated Israel. It seems strange that Moses would want the eyes of a mere man to lead them, for God had given them the pillar of cloud and of fire. Could he not be trusted to lead perfectly without other help? However, nothing is said as to whether Hobab accepted this. Still, Hobab is not mentioned again in all the wilderness history. His children are mentioned inJudges 4:11; Judges 4:11, but not as part of Israel.

Leaving Mount Horeb, the first leg of Israel's journey took three days (v.33). This is significant of leaving the world to take up resurrection life even in desert circumstances. We are told that the ark went before them, and that the cloud was above them (v.34).

Because the ark was the symbol of the Lord's presence, Moses prayed when it set out, "Rise up, 0 Lord!" (v.35). Well may believers also commend themselves to the Lord's protection at the beginning of each day's journey. Then when the ark rested, Moses prayed, "Return, 0 Lord, to the many thousands of Israel" (v.36). So, whether in journeying or whether at rest, we need the presence of the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Numbers 10". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/numbers-10.html. 1897-1910.
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