Numbers ii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 2. By, &c. Hebrew, “by his own standard, in the ensigns of their father’s house, far off, about,” &c. Perhaps a general standard, belonging to the chief tribe, was set up for each of the four great bodies; while the two inferior tribes had their peculiar ensign, as well as the different companies. It is supposed, that these standards were distinguished either by their colour, or by the representation of some animals. Jonathan says, each of the great standards, made of silk, were of three colours, similar to those precious stones, on which the names of the patriarchs were engraven on the rational; and also exhibited the figure or emblem of the principal tribe, with some text of Scripture, and the names of the three tribes. Thus the tribe of Juda, with those of Issachar and Zabulon, occupying the space of 4000 paces, had a lion’s whelp on their standard, with this inscription, Let God arise, and his enemies be put to fight; Juda, Issachar, Zabulon. The tribes of Ruben, Simeon, and Gad, bore the figure of a stag, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God. The standard of Ephraim, Manasses, and Benjamin, had a child embroidered, The cloud also of the Lord was over them by day, when they marched. Some give to the tribes of Dan, Aser, and Nephtali, the figure of a basilisk; others that of an eagle; with these words, Return, O Lord, and dwell with thy glory in the midst of the host of Israel. See chap. x. 34-36., and Deuteronomy vi. 4. Some imagine that the standard of Juda was green, with a lion’s whelp embroidered upon it; Ruben’s red, with the head of a man. That of Ephraim, yellowish, the colour of the Chrysolite, and represented an ox, or a calf’s head. The standard of Dan had a mixture of white and red, like the jasper, with an eagle grasping a serpent in its talons; all in allusion to various passages of Scripture, and to the cherubim of Ezechiel. We cannot, however, vouch for the accuracy of these Rabinnical accounts. The custom of bearing the figures of animals on armour and standards, is very ancient. Anubis and Macedo had a dog and a wolf engraven on their arms, when they accompanied their father Osiris. (Diodorus ii. 2. The heroes at Troy had similar emblems on their bucklers. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xxxv. 3.) Others adorned their helmets with them. Hence some derive the custom of armour-bearing. — Covenant, at the distance of 2000 cubits, as at the passage of the Jordan, Josue iii. 4. The tabernacle in the middle formed the camp of the Lord, the Levites were round it; the third camp was for the army, (Calmet) occupying a large square. The nearest soldiers were a mile distant from the centre.

Ver. 9. First. The gate of the tabernacle looked towards the east. (Haydock) — Juda marched therefore in the first ranks. Then followed Ruben, the Levites, with the camp of the Lord. (Calmet) — (Yet see chap x. 17.; Haydock) — Afterwards came Ephraim; and last of all, Gad, ver. 16, 17, 24, 31. But in the camp, Juda, Issachar and Zabulon, Moses and Aaron, dwelt on the eastern side of the tabernacle; Ruben, Simeon and Gad, with the Caathites, on the south; Ephraim, Manasses and Benjamin, with the sons of Gerson, to the west; and Dan, Aser and Nephtali, with the Merarites, on the north. (Calmet)

Ver. 17. And. Hebrew, “when the tabernacle of the assembly, shall depart, the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp, they shall depart in the same order as they encamp, each in his rank, with his ensigns.” The Levites shall always be in the middle. (Calmet) — So the Romans made their camps, of a square form, and placed the sacred things in the centre. (Grotius) — Down. The same officers who took it down, shall set it up again. (Menochius)

Ver. 23. Five, is omitted in the Samaritan copy.

Ver. 24. Eight. Onkelos has 180,000 (Calmet) — But both these are incorrect, chap. i. 37, 52. (Haydock)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The order of the tribes in their camp.

1 And the Lord spoke *to Moses and Aaron, saying:

2 All the children of Israel shall camp by their troops, ensigns, and standards, and the houses of their kindreds, round about the tabernacle of the covenant.

3 On the east Juda shall pitch his tents by the bands of his army: and the prince of his sons shall be Nahasson, the son of Aminadab.

4 And the whole sum of the fighting men of his stock, were seventy-four thousand six hundred.

5 Next unto him, they of the tribe of Issachar encamped, whose prince was Nathanael, the son of Suar.

6 And the whole number of his fighting men were fifty-four thousand four hundred.

7 In the tribe of Zabulon, the prince was Eliab, the son of Helon.

8 And all the army of fighting men of his stock, were fifty-seven thousand four hundred.

9 All that were numbered in the camp of Juda, were a hundred and eighty-six thousand four hundred: and they, by their troops shall march first.

10 In the camp of the sons of Ruben, on the south side, the prince shall be Elisur, the son of Sedeur:

11 And the whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were forty-six thousand five hundred.

12 Beside him camped they of the tribe of Simeon: whose prince was Salamiel, the son of Surisaddai.

13 And the whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were fifty-nine thousand three hundred.

14 In the tribe of Gad, the prince was Eliasaph, the son of Duel.

15 And the whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were forty-five thousand six hundred and fifty.

16 All that were reckoned up in the camp of Ruben, were a hundred and fifty-one thousand four hundred and fifty, by their troops: they shall march in the second place.

17 And the tabernacle of the testimony shall be carried by the officers of the Levites and their troops. As it shall be set up, so shall it be taken down. Every one shall march according to their places, and ranks.

18 On the west side shall be the camp of the sons of Ephraim, whose prince was Elisama, the son of Ammiud.

19 The whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were forty thousand five hundred.

20 And with them the tribe of the sons of Manasses, whose prince was Gamaliel, the son of Phadassur.

21 And the whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were thirty-two thousand two hundred.

22 In the tribe of the sons of Benjamin, the prince was Abidan, the son of Gedeon.

23 And the whole army of his fighting men, that were reckoned up, were thirty-five thousand four hundred.

24 All that were numbered in the camp of Ephraim, were a hundred and eight thousand one hundred, by their troops: they shall march in the third place.

25 On the north side camped the sons of Dan: whose prince was Ahiezar, the son of Ammisaddai.

26 The whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were sixty-two thousand seven hundred.

27 Beside him they of the tribe of Aser pitched their tents: whose prince was Phegiel, the son of Ochran.

28 The whole army of his fighting men, that were numbered, were forty-one thousand five hundred.

29 Of the tribe of the sons of Nephthali, the prince was Ahira, the son of Enan.

30 The whole army of his fighting men were fifty-three thousand four hundred.

31 All that were numbered in the camp of Dan, were a hundred and fifty-seven thousand six hundred: and they shall march last.

32 This is the number of the children of Israel, of their army divided according to the houses of their kindreds and their troops, six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.

33 And the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel: for so the Lord had commanded Moses.

34 And the children of Israel did according to all things that the Lord had commanded. They camped by their troops, and marched by the families and houses of their fathers.



1: Year of the World 2514, Year before Christ 1490.