Particular directions for posting each of the tribes, in four
In the vanguard, on the east, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun,
ver. 3 - 9.
In the right wing, southward, Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, ver. 10 - 16.
The tabernacle in the midst, ver. 17.
In the rear, westward, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, ver. 18 - 24.
In the left wing, northward, Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, ver. 25 - 31.
The conclusion of the appointment, ver. 32 - 34.
2: His own standard - It is manifest there were four great standards
or ensigns, which here follow, distinguished by their colours or figures;
also there were other particular ensigns belonging to each of their fathers
houses or families. Far off - Partly out of reverence to God and his
worship, and the portion, allotted to it, and partly for caution, lest their
vicinity to it might tempt them to make too near approaches to it. It is
supposed they Were at 2000 cubits distance from it, which was the space
between the people and the ark; and it is not improbable, because the
Levites encamped round about it, between them and the tabernacle. It is
observable, those tribes were placed together, that were nearest of kin to
each other. Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun were the three youngest
sons of Leah, and Issachar and Zebulun would not grudge to be
under Judah, their elder brother. Reuben and Simeon would not
be content with their place. Therefore Reuben, Jacob's eldest son, is
chief of the next squadron. Simeon doubtless is willing to be under
him. And Gad, the son of Leah's handmaid, is fitly added to him, in
Levi's room. Ephraim Manasseh, and Benjamin are all the posterity
of Rachel. Dan the eldest son of Bilhah leads the rest; to them
are added the two younger sons of the handmaids. So much of the wisdom of
God appears even in these smaller circumstances!
3: Judah - This tribe was in the first post, and in their marches led
the van, not only because it was the most numerous, but chiefly because
Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, was to descend from it: Yea,
from the loins of Nahshon, who is here appointed the chief captain of
17: In the midst - This is not to be understood strictly, but
largely; for in their march they were divided, and part of that tribe
marched next after Judah, (Nu 10:17), and the other part exactly
in the midst of the camp.
18: Ephraim - Who is here preferred before his brother, according to
the prophecy, (Ge 48:19,20).
31: The Camp of Dan - The strongest camp next after Judah, and
therefore he comes in the rear, as Judah marched in the front, that the
tabernacle might be best guarded where there was most danger.