so they did; which is repeated to show how readily, punctually, and perfectly they observed the command of God with respect to this affair.
INTRODUCTION TO Numbers 2
This chapter contains the order of the encampment and march of the tribes of Israel in their proper places about the tabernacle; the general direction for the same is in Numbers 1:1; the particulars follow; on the cast of the tabernacle the camp of Judah was to pitch, and under his standard the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, Numbers 1:3; on the south side of it the camp of Reuben, and under his standard the tribes of Simeon and Gad, Numbers 1:10; then the tabernacle, with the camp of the Levites round it, were next, to stand or set forward, Numbers 1:17; and on the west side the camp of Ephraim, and under his standard the tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin, Numbers 1:18; and on the north side the camp of Dan, and under his standard the tribes of Asher and Naphtali, Numbers 1:25; the sum total of the numbers of which camps are given, exclusive of the camp of Levi, Numbers 1:32; and the chapter is concluded with observing, that all was done according to the commandment of God, Numbers 1:34.
saying: as follows.
with the ensigns of their father's house; which were either lesser standards or banners, somewhat different from the great standard or banner, which belonged to the camp consisting of three tribes, and which were peculiar to their several families and houses, and distinguished one from another, like flags in different regiments; or these were signs (f), as the word may be rendered, or marks in the standards or banners, which, distinguished one from another; so the Targum of Jonathan, the signs which were marked in their standards: but what they were is not easy to say; Aben Ezra observes, and Abendana from him, that their ancients were used to say, that there was in the standard of Reuben the form of a man, on account of the mandrakes, Genesis 30:14; and in the standard of Judah the form of a lion, because Jacob compared him to one, Genesis 49:9; and in the standard of Ephraim the form of an ox, from the sense of those words, the firstling of his bullock, Deuteronomy 33:17; and in the standard of Dan the form of an eagle, so that they might be like the cherubim the prophet Ezekiel saw, Ezekiel 1:10, which is not very likely, such images and representations not being very agreeable, yea, even detestable to the people of the Jews in later times, and can hardly be thought to be in use with their early ancestors: others, as Jarchi, fancy that those standards were distinguished by their colours, as our flags or ensigns are; which, if they stopped here, would not be much amiss, but they go on and say, that each was according to the colour of his stone fixed in the breastplate, so that there were three colours in every flag or standard; thus, for instance, in the standard of Judah, which is the first, were the colours of the three precious stones, on which were the names of Judah, Issachar, and Reuben, namely, the emerald, sapphire, and diamond; and so in the rest of the standards; but others say, the letters of the names of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, differently disposed of, were on those standards; but rather, one would think, the names of the three tribes under every standard were embroidered on them, which would sufficiently distinguish one from another, and direct where tribe was to pitch; but of those things there is no certainty:
far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch: a mile from it, according to Jarchi, or two thousand cubits, which is supposed to be a sabbath day's journey, Acts 1:12; and this distance is gathered from Joshua 3:4, and is not improbable.
(f) "in signis", Pagninus, Montanus; "sub signis", Tigurine version; "cum signis", Junius & Tremellius, Drusius; "apud signa", Piscator.
shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch, throughout their armies; the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, formed one camp, which had its name from the principal tribe Judah; and this was divided into various regiments and companies, called armies, who severally pitched under one and the same standard. It is said (g) Judah's stone was the "nophech" (which we render an emerald), and his flag was coloured in the likeness of the colour of the heavens, and there was formed upon it a lion. Issachar's was the sapphire, and his flag was coloured black, like to black lead, and there were framed upon it the sun and moon, on account of what is said, 1 Chronicles 12:32. Zebulun's was a diamond, and his flag was coloured white, and there was formed upon it a ship, because of what is said, Genesis 49:13,
and Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, shall be captain of the children of Judah; who had been assisting in numbering the people, and who afterwards offered to the dedication of the altar, Numbers 1:2.
(g) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 178. 2.
were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred; the number of the tribe of Judah were 74,600; see Numbers 1:27.
and Nethaneel, the son of Zuar, shall be captain of the children of Issachar; see Numbers 1:8.
and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred. 54,400 men. Which had been numbered, for it does not appear that there was a fresh account taken; see Numbers 1:29.
and Eliab, the son of Helon, shall be, captain of the children of Zebulun; see Numbers 1:9; each tribe had its own captain; nor does it appear that there was a general over those captains, that had the command of the camp, consisting of three tribes, but Moses was the generalissimo of all the camps.
and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred. 57,400 men; see Numbers 1:31.
throughout their armies,.... 186,400 men. The sum total of the three tribes, which formed that camp: this was the largest camp of them all, being near 30,000 more than Dan's, Numbers 2:31, which was the next in number unto it, and therefore placed foremost, and as the vanguard to the tabernacle:
these shall first set forth; in a march, when about to journey; when they saw the cloud remove, the priests blew with the trumpets, and then the camp of Judah moved first, as Jarchi observes, and when they went out to fight, Judah went up first, Judges 1:1.
and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur; see Numbers 1:5.
(h) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 178. 2.
and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred. 46,500 men; see Numbers 1:21.
and the captain of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai; of whom see Numbers 1:6.
and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. 59,300 men; the same as in Numbers 1:23.
and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel: who is called Deuel, Numbers 1:14. The letters "resh", and "daleth", being similar, are sometimes put one for the other, of which there are other instances, as in Genesis 10:3, compared with 1 Chronicles 1:6.
and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty. 45,650 men; see Numbers 1:25.
throughout their armies,.... 151,450 men. Putting Reuben's host, and the hosts of Simeon and Gad together, Numbers 2:13, which was much lesser than the preceding camp, being 34,500 fewer in number:
and they shall set forth in the second rank: they in journeying moving next to the camp of Judah, and before the tabernacle; for though, while encamped, the camp of Reuben lay on the south, or right side of it, yet, when marching, went before it.
in the midst of the camp; or "camps" (k); between the camps of Judah and Reuben, before mentioned, and those of Ephraim and Dan, which are after spoken of: the order in which they moved was this, as Aben Ezra observes; the Gershonites and Merarites marched between the standard of Judah and the standard of Reuben; and the Kohathites marched, and with them Aaron and his sons, between the standard of Reuben and the standard of Ephraim:
as they encamp, so shall they set forward; this is to be understood, according to Aben Ezra, not of the camp of Levi, since the standard of Judah was to the east, and the Gershonites, which were to the west of the sanctuary, and the Merarites in the north, set forward together; but of the camps of Israel, which set forward, not as they were encamped about the tabernacle, for those that were encamped on the side of it, in marching went before and behind, but as they were encamped with respect to themselves; first marched the standard of Judah, then that of Reuben, which went before, and then those of Ephraim and Dan, which followed; and besides, as each camp was pitched, so it moved; as the camp of Judah, his host marched between those of Issachar and Zebulun, and the same order the rest observed:
every man in his place by their standards, as every individual person in the several tribes were ranked under their respective banners, so they marched.
(i) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 2. fol. 178. 2.((k) "in medio castrorum", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version; so Ainsworth; "in medio reliquorum castrorum", Junius & Tremellius.
and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud; of whom see Numbers 1:10.
(l) Bemidbar Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 2. fol. 178. 2.)
and those that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred. 40,500 men. Not his camp, but his host, or the army, which consisted only of his own tribe see Numbers 1:33.
and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur; the same as in Numbers 1:10.
and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred. 32,200 men; see Numbers 1:35.
and the captains of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni; of whom see Numbers 1:11.
and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred. 35,400 men. The least number of all the tribes, excepting the tribe of Manasseh, Numbers 2:21; see Numbers 1:37.
and they shall go forward in the third rank; and which was the first following the tabernacle.
and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai; who made mention of in Numbers 1:10.
(m) Bemidbar Rabba, ut supra. (sect. 2. fol. 178. 2.)
and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred. 62,700 men, which agrees with the account of this tribe in Numbers 1:39.
and the captain of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran; the same as in Numbers 1:13.
and those that were numbered of them, were forty and one thousand and five hundred. 41,500 men; as they were numbered Numbers 1:41.
and the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan; who is mentioned Numbers 1:15.
and those that were numbered of them; not that some part of the tribe of Naphtali was numbered, which made up the host Ahira was captain of, but the whole of it, who were all numbered that were of twenty years of age and upwards; and the same is to be observed in all the above places, where this phrase is used:
were fifty and three thousand and four hundred. 53,400 men; see Numbers 1:43.
they shall go hindmost with their standards; for though, while encamped, they lay to the north, or the left side of the tabernacle, yet, when marching, they brought up the rear, and were the rear guard to the tabernacle; so that it had in its van and rear the two largest camps, which were wisely ordered for its safety: "standards" is put for "standard", the plural for the singular; for there was but one standard to a camp, unless this takes in their ensigns, of which they had many.
all those that were numbered of the camp throughout their hosts: of the four camps, of Judah, Reuben, Ephraim, and Dan, throughout the respective tribes or hosts that belonged to each of them:
were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty; 603,550 men, which is exactly the sum total of them, as taken Numbers 1:46. It is a large number, considering in how short a time, and that great part of it a state of bondage, from seventy persons, they rose unto it; but the spiritual Israel of God, consisting of his people of all nations, is a number which no man can number, Revelation 7:9; besides, the number of the sealed ones, of every tribe, Numbers 2:4; Now this encampment of the people of Israel was an emblem of the form and order of the spiritual Israel or church of God, under the Gospel dispensation. Christ in human nature is the tabernacle, who is in the midst of his people by his gracious presence; as the heart and life of the congregation of his saints, in whom they all centre and terminate, and where he sits enthroned as King of saints; and as the Levites encamped in four squadrons next unto the tabernacle, all around it, to these answer the living creatures in Ezekiel 1:5; which design the ministers of the word, who are in the highest place in the church, between Christ and the congregation, and are near to him, to be supplied by him; then encamped the whole body of the people of Israel by their standards, with their ensigns, to whom answer the wheels in Ezekiel 1:15; and the twenty four elders in Revelation 4:4; all which show the church to be militant, and that there is an order in Gospel churches, which makes them both comely and terrible, Sol 6:4; and may teach every member to abide by his standard, and follow his ensign and ensign bearer, Isaiah 11:10.
as the Lord commanded Moses; Numbers 1:48.