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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Numbers 2

 

 

Verses 1-34

THE ORDERING OF THE CAMP

(vs.1-34)

The Lord now gives instructions to Moses as to the positions of all the tribes when camped and the order of their marching. Judah is mentioned first, his name appropriately meaning "praise." His tribe was directly in front of the tabernacle, toward the east (v.3), set back at sufficient distance to allow full room for the sons of Aaron near the tabernacle entrance, their family being spread across the east side of the tabernacle court (ch.3:38).

The standard of Judah included two other tribes, Issachar and Zebulon (vs.5-7), one encamped on each side of Judah. All of this is typical of God's maintaining spiritual order in the church, not a precise physical order, but an order that glorifies His name through the subject obedience of His saints in unity and devotion to His name. We have seen the meanings of the leader's names in chapter 1, and these have full significance as regards their assigned places.

The standard of Judah was always in the lead when the tribes set out to march, for the spirit of praise to God is of first importance in travel or in warfare. When Jehoshaphat's army went out with singers praising the Lord, the victory was soon gained (2 Chronicles 20:21-22). The total number of men under Judah's standard was 186,400 (v.9).

The tribe of Reuben was in the middle on the south side, and under his standard were also the tribes of Simeon and Gad on either side (vs.10-16), the total number of men in the three tribes 151,450. These under Reuben's standard followed those under Judah's standard when they broke camp.

Just as the tabernacle was in the center of the camp, so its place in traveling was in the center (v.17), with the Levites accompanying it. For it was the very heart of the camp, the dwelling of God, who was in the midst of Israel. Six tribes preceded it in traveling, and six followed.

The standard of the camp of Ephraim was on the west side, and with Ephraim were Manasseh and Benjamin (vs.18-23). The armies of these three totaled 108,100. These followed the Levites in traveling.

On the north side the tribe of Dan bore the standard that included also Asher and Naphtali (vs.25-30). Their armies together comprised a total of 157,600 men, and were last in order to travel. All the numbered men therefore totaled 603,550, as chapter 1:46 reported, and chapter 2:32 confirms. Again, we are reminded that this did not include the Levites (v.33), nor of course women and children. The total of the congregation must have been between two and three million. what a company for Moses to lead through the wilderness! But this illustrates the care of God in providing the best order possible. Certainly in the Church of God today He exercises no less wisdom in providing a spiritual order that will glorify His name, and He expects in the gatherings of the assembly a becoming recognition of His order, as 1 Corinthians 14:40 shows. "Let all things be done decently and in order."

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Numbers 2:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/numbers-2.html. 1897-1910.

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