Bible Commentaries
Numbers 10

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-10

The Use of the Silver Trumpets

v. 1. And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,

v. 2. Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them; they were apparently straight trumpets, made of wrought silver, in chased work; that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly and for the journeying of the camps. These trumpets were intended to give all the official signals to the army of God, but their chief purpose was to sound the signal for departure. Those pictured on the triumphal arch of Titus at Rome may not have been the original ones, but they were undoubtedly exact copies of those used for so many centuries by the Jewish people.

v. 3. And when they shall blow with them, that is, with both at the same time, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, for a meeting of all the people.

v. 4. And if they, the priests, blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, Numbers 1:5-16; Exodus 18:21, shall gather themselves unto thee. This distinction could easily be remembered.

v. 5. When ye blow an alarm, in a protracted peal or blast, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward, the tribes under the leadership of Judah, which formed the vanguard of the entire army.

v. 6. When ye blow an alarm, a protracted peal, the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey, the tribes under the leadership of Reuben; they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.

v. 7. But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, in single, interrupted blasts, on both trumpets, but ye shall not sound an alarm.

v. 8. And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets, it was a function which could be discharged by them only; and they shall be to you for an ordinance forever throughout your generations, the trumpets should be used by all their descendants, so long as their church would endure.

v. 9. And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets, long-drawn blasts intended to call the people together and to inspire them with courage in shaking off the yoke of tyranny ; and ye shall be remembered before the Lord, your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies; the peals of the trumpets, assisted by the prayers of the faithful, would bring the people into the gracious remembrance of the Lord, who would help them against their oppressors.

v. 10. Also in the day of your gladness, upon occasions of great joy, and in your solemn days, at the times when they were directed to have solemn assemblies, and in the beginnings of your months, on the new moon, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace-offerings, this being the distinguishing mark of the festival sacrifices on the occasions noted; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God, to bring the people and their offerings into remembrance before Jehovah. I am the Lord, your God. As the silver trumpets were subsequently used by the children of Israel, not only in sounding for the attack in battle, but on all festival occasions, so the bells of the Christian churches proclaim and celebrate the sacred days and seasons, the times set aside for the public proclamation and learning of the Gospel.

Verses 11-28

The Departure from Sinai

v. 11. And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, after the departure from Egypt, that the cloud was taken up from off the Tabernacle of the Testimony, as a signal for striking the camp and moving on to the next station;

v. 12. And the children of Israel took their journeys, they set forth on the continuation of their trip, out of the Wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested, came to rest in the Wilderness of Paran, the general direction of the march at this time being northward. The Wilderness of Paran is the great central plateau of the Sinaitic Peninsula, and shows the characteristic physical features of the entire country between Egypt and Canaan, rugged mountain ranges being traversed by desolate valleys, in some of which intermittent streams are found.

v. 13. And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses, this being the first time since the giving of the Law that its precepts were carried out in a departure.

v. 14. In the first place, as the vanguard of the entire army, went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah according to their armies; and over his host was Nahshon, the son of Amminadab.

v. 15. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel, the son of Zuar.

v. 16. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab, the son of Helon. Cf Numbers 2:3-9.

v. 17. And the Tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the Tabernacle, that is, the curtains and the framework of both the tent and the court, which they transported on the wagons furnished by the princes of the people, Numbers 7:6-8.

v. 18. And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward according to their armies; and over his host was Elizur, the son of Shedeur.

v. 19. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel, the son of Zurishaddai.

v. 20. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph, the son of Deuel. Cf Numbers 2:10-16.

v. 21. And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the Sanctuary, the sacred furniture and the holy vessels, Numbers 7:9; and the other, the Gershonites and the Merarites, did set up the Tabernacle against they came (until they reached the place). This was the reason why these two companies of Levites preceded the tribes led by the Reubenites, Cf Numbers 2:17, since they thereby gained enough time to have the tent erected before the Kohathites came with the furniture, the altars and the holy vessels.

v. 22. And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward according to their armies; and over his host was Elishama, the son of Ammihud.

v. 23. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel, the son of Pedahzur.

v. 24. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan, the son of Gideoni. Cf Numbers 2:18-24.

v. 25. And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rearward of all the camps throughout their hosts; and over his host was Ahiezer, the son of Ammishaddai.

v. 26. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel, the son of Ocran.

v. 27. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira, the son of Enan. Cf Numbers 2:25-31.

v. 28. Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their armies, when they set forward. It was all done decently and in order, without confusion and loss of time. Those that know and fear God do not live according to their own desire, but according to God's will and command, following His leadership in everything.

Verses 29-36

Hobab Persuaded to Join the Host

v. 29. And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel, the Midianite, Moses' father-in-law, (Hobab thus being the brother-in-law of Moses, but the manner of his coming into the camp is not related,) We are journeying unto the place of which the Lord said, I will give it you; come thou with us, and we will do thee good; in being associated with the people of the Lord, Hobab and his tribe would become a partaker of the spiritual blessings which the Lord had promised to His people; for the Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel, Genesis 32:12; Exodus 19:5-6.

v. 30. And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land and to my kindred. There were strong ties which bound Hobab to the place where his people lived, but the prospect of partaking in the glorious destiny that Jehovah had promised to His people was a mighty persuasive factor.

v. 31. And he (Moses) said, Leave us not, I pray thee, forasmuch as thou knowest how we are to encamp in the wilderness, and thou mayest be to us instead of eyes. The cloud which went ahead of the army showed only the general direction of the way, whereas Hobab could act as the guide of the people in showing them the best roads and in planning their camps, since he had lived under wilderness conditions all his life and was familiar with the entire country.

v. 32. And it shall be, if thou go with us, yea, it shall be, that what goodness the Lord shall do unto us, the same will we do unto thee. By joining the people of the Lord, Hobab and his people would share in all the temporal and spiritual benefits which the Lord had promised to His chosen nation. The words of Moses apparently did not lack in persuasive power at this time, for it seems that Hobab joined the host with his tribe, Judges 1:16. The passage contains a fine hint in regard to missionary methods which might be applied to this day.

v. 33. And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days' journey, during which time nothing of interest happened, the people seemingly being satisfied with everything that the Lord did; and the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord went before them in the three days' journey, to search out a resting-place for them, a suitable camping-ground for the entire army. It seems that the ark alone was taken from the rest of the Sanctuary appointments and carried at the head of the host, as near as possible beneath the cloud.

v. 34. And the cloud of the Lord was upon them by day, like a sheltering presence, covering the whole army, when they went out of the camp, concentrating itself into a pillar as the journey was resumed.

v. 35. And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, at the beginning of the day's march, that Moses said, Rise up, Lord, and let Thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Thee flee before Thee. This was said with reference to the ark and the cloud as guaranteeing the merciful presence of Jehovah, before whom all enemies must be confounded and flee in disgrace.

v. 36. And when it rested, when the cloud sank to the earth upon reaching a new station, and the ark was deposited on the spot where the Tabernacle was to be erected in the midst of the camp, he said, Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel! Cf Psalms 68:1-3. This is an expression of the bold confidence of faith, a prayer which is sure of being heard in advance, a watchword with which the Church of Christ at all times has overcome and vanquished the forces of darkness. And every individual Christian knows that God guards and keeps him in all his ways and defends him from all harm and danger even in the night season.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Numbers 10". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". 1921-23.