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The Silver Trumpets


The L ord spoke to Moses, saying: 2Make two silver trumpets; you shall make them of hammered work; and you shall use them for summoning the congregation, and for breaking camp. 3When both are blown, the whole congregation shall assemble before you at the entrance of the tent of meeting. 4But if only one is blown, then the leaders, the heads of the tribes of Israel, shall assemble before you. 5When you blow an alarm, the camps on the east side shall set out; 6when you blow a second alarm, the camps on the south side shall set out. An alarm is to be blown whenever they are to set out. 7But when the assembly is to be gathered, you shall blow, but you shall not sound an alarm. 8The sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets; this shall be a perpetual institution for you throughout your generations. 9When you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, so that you may be remembered before the L ord your God and be saved from your enemies. 10Also on your days of rejoicing, at your appointed festivals, and at the beginnings of your months, you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over your sacrifices of well-being; they shall serve as a reminder on your behalf before the L ord your God: I am the L ord your God.

Departure from Sinai

11 In the second year, in the second month, on the twentieth day of the month, the cloud lifted from over the tabernacle of the covenant. 12Then the Israelites set out by stages from the wilderness of Sinai, and the cloud settled down in the wilderness of Paran. 13They set out for the first time at the command of the L ord by Moses. 14The standard of the camp of Judah set out first, company by company, and over the whole company was Nahshon son of Amminadab. 15Over the company of the tribe of Issachar was Nethanel son of Zuar; 16and over the company of the tribe of Zebulun was Eliab son of Helon.

17 Then the tabernacle was taken down, and the Gershonites and the Merarites, who carried the tabernacle, set out. 18Next the standard of the camp of Reuben set out, company by company; and over the whole company was Elizur son of Shedeur. 19Over the company of the tribe of Simeon was Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, 20and over the company of the tribe of Gad was Eliasaph son of Deuel.

21 Then the Kohathites, who carried the holy things, set out; and the tabernacle was set up before their arrival. 22Next the standard of the Ephraimite camp set out, company by company, and over the whole company was Elishama son of Ammihud. 23Over the company of the tribe of Manasseh was Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, 24and over the company of the tribe of Benjamin was Abidan son of Gideoni.

25 Then the standard of the camp of Dan, acting as the rear guard of all the camps, set out, company by company, and over the whole company was Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26Over the company of the tribe of Asher was Pagiel son of Ochran, 27and over the company of the tribe of Naphtali was Ahira son of Enan. 28This was the order of march of the Israelites, company by company, when they set out.

29 Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the L ord said, ‘I will give it to you’; come with us, and we will treat you well; for the L ord has promised good to Israel.” 30But he said to him, “I will not go, but I will go back to my own land and to my kindred.” 31He said, “Do not leave us, for you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you will serve as eyes for us. 32Moreover, if you go with us, whatever good the L ord does for us, the same we will do for you.”

33 So they set out from the mount of the L ord three days’ journey with the ark of the covenant of the L ord going before them three days’ journey, to seek out a resting place for them, 34the cloud of the L ord being over them by day when they set out from the camp.

35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses would say,

“Arise, O L ord, let your enemies be scattered,

and your foes flee before you.”

36 And whenever it came to rest, he would say,

“Return, O L ord of the ten thousand thousands of Israel.”

14. In the first place went the standard of the camp The actual order of march is here described. The whole people, with the exception of the Levites, is divided into four hosts, or parts, since four of the tribes were set over the others, so as to have two under the command of each. And this was the mode of proceeding, that whenever they halted anywhere, the four standards encompassed the sanctuary and the Ark of the Covenant from the four quarters of the world; whilst on the march, the Levites carrying the tabernacle, according to the burdens respectively imposed upon them, were mixed with the several bands. The Ark, borne upon the shoulders of the Levites, preceded the whole army, in order that all might more confidently follow, God thus manifestly shewing them the way. Nahshon, of the tribe of Judah, led the first host; Elizur, of the tribe of Reuben, the second; Elishama, of the tribe of Ephraim, the third; and Ahiezer, of the tribe of Dan, the fourth. It is obvious that in the precedency given to the tribe of Judah, God in some degree afforded an anticipation of the prophecy of Jacob; for the Reubenites, being descended from the first-born, would not have willingly abandoned their position, unless that right had been transferred to the tribe of Judah by God’s decree, pronounced through the mouth of Jacob. Not that the sovereignty and royal power was actually his before the time of David, but because God would have a single spark to shine in the midst of the thick darkness, whereby He might cherish the hope of the promised salvation in every heart; and that thus the dignity of this tribe might at length more readily reduce all to obedience. Herein, however, it appeared how perverse and intractable was the spirit of that greater portion of them who strove against the divine decree in their rejection of David.

Reuben occupied the second place, as an alleviation of his disgrace. Again, by the subjection of the tribe of Manasseh to the posterity of Ephraim, in this respect, too, the prophecy of the same patriarch was fulfilled. Nor does there seem to be any other reason why the fourth standard should have been given to the tribe of Dan, except because Jacob had declared, “Dan shall judge his people.” (Genesis 49:16,) by which expression his pre-eminence was denoted.

Although it may be that the four standard-bearing tribes were chosen from their strength and the numbers of their people, still, unless the children of Reuben and Manasseh had been thoroughly persuaded that their degradation was in accordance with the command of God, their jealousy would never have suffered them calmly to submit themselves to others, whose superiors they were by the ordinary rules of nature. Their self-restraint, therefore, was praiseworthy, in that voluntary subjection kept them within bounds, without the application of any power of compulsion; and at the end, Moses records that it was not once only that they thus advanced, but that they observed the same order and regulations during the whole course of their travel, and that their camp was always so arranged that no contention arose to disturb them.

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