Bible Commentaries
Numbers 10

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

Verses 1-36


The people had been at Sinai for about a year (compare Exodus 19:1 ). They were refreshed after their Egyptian servitude. The law had been given, the tabernacle erected, and the means and method of approach to God had been revealed. Thus had they entered on a course of moral and religious training which inspired them with a conviction of their high destiny, and prepared them to begin their journey to the promised land.

The events of this lesson revolve around the initial step of this journey, and include the following:

1. directions about the guiding cloud (Numbers 9:15-23 ) 2. directions about the trumpets (Numbers 10:1-10 ) 3. record of the first three days (Numbers 10:11-28 ) 4. Moses’ request to Hobab (Numbers 10:29-32 ) 5. Moses’ prayer (Numbers 10:33-36 ).


We have sufficiently considered the subject of the cloud (Exodus 13:0 ). Of what was it the signal (Numbers 10:17 )? To what was its action equivalent (Numbers 10:18 )? What indicates their strict obedience to this signal (Numbers 10:22-23 )?


The Egyptian trumpets which called their votaries to the temples were short and curved like ram’s horns, but these of Moses, to judge by those represented on the arch of Titus, were long and straight, much like our own. Of what, and how were they to be made (Numbers 10:2 )? What was their purpose (Numbers 10:2-3 )? How many different calls were described (Numbers 10:4-7 )? Who could use the trumpets (Numbers 10:8 )? Observe verse 9, and compare Numbers 31:6 and 2 Chronicles 13:12 . Sounding the trumpets on the eve of battle was a solemn and religious act, animating the hearts of those engaged in a righteous cause. It was a promise that God would be aroused to aid with his presence in the battle.


Probably this relative of Moses remained during a part of their encampment at Sinai, but it was natural that as they started north, he should like to remain in his own neighborhood and with his own people.

But why Moses should have importuned him to remain with them as a guide when they had the “cloud” for that purpose is a question. The answer seems to be that the cloud showed the general route, but did not point out minutely where pasture, shade and water were to be obtained, and which were often hid in obscure spots by the shifting sand. Then too, detachments of the Israelites may have been sent off from the main body. Hobab meant more to them than a single individual, for he was doubtless, prince of a clan, and hence could render considerable service.

Notice the motive Moses places before him (Numbers 10:29 ), and the reward he promises him (Numbers 10:32 ), and yet, it does not influence him favorably, if we may so interpret Judges 1:16 and 1 Samuel 15:6 .

Preachers will find a text for a gospel sermon in these words of Moses. They are:

A confession: “We are journeying”; An invitation: “Come thou with us”; A promise: “We will do thee good”; A testimony: “The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.”


1. About how long had Israel remained at Sinai?

2. What five events are included in this lesson?

3. How would you interpret the trumpets on the eve of battle?

4. How explain Moses’ request of Hobab?

5. Can you give a homiletic outline of Numbers 10:29 ?

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Numbers 10". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. 1897-1910.