The silver trumpets. (Verse 1-10.)
The Israelites remove from Sinai to Paran. (Verse 11-28.)
Hobab entreated by Moses to continue. (Verse 29-32.)
The blessing pronounced by Moses. (Verse 33-36.)
1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Make thee two trumpets of silver; of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps.
3 And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
4 And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee.
5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.
6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys.
7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm.
8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets; and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations.
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; and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies.
10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
11 And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
12 And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
13 And they first took their journey according to the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses.
14 In the first place 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.
15 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
16 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebulun was Eliab the son of Helon.
17 And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle.
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.
19 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
20 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Deuel.
21 And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.
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.
23 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
24 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.
25 And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rereward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
[rereward – a rear guard]
26 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran.
27 And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.
28 Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel according to their armies, when they set forward.
29 And Moses said unto Hobab, the son of Raguel the Midianite, Moses’ father in law, 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: for the LORD hath spoken good concerning Israel.
30 And he said unto him, I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land, and to my kindred.
31 And he 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.
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.
33 And they departed from the mount of the LORD three days’ journey: 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.
34 And the cloud of the LORD was upon them by day, when they went out of the camp.
35 And it came to pass, when the ark set forward, that Moses said, Rise up, LORD, and let thine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.
36 And when it rested, he said, Return, O LORD, unto the many thousands of Israel.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-10 – Here are directions concerning the public notices to be given the people by sound of trumpet. Their laws in every case were to be Divine, therefore, even in this matter Moses is directed. These trumpets typify the preached gospel. It sounds an alarm to sinners, calls them to repent, proclaims liberty to the captives and slaves of Satan, and collects the worshippers of God. It directs and encourages their heavenly journey; stirs them up to combat against the world and sin, encouraging them with the assurance of victory. It leads their attention to the sacrifice of Christ, and shows the Lord’s presence for their protection. It is also necessary that the gospel trumpet give a distinct sound, according to the persons addressed, or the end proposed; whether to convince, humble, console, exhort, reprove, or teach. The sounding of the trumpet of the gospel is God’s ordinance, and demands the attention of all to whom it is sent.
Verse 11-28 – After the Israelites had continued nearly a year at mount Sinai, and all was settled respecting their future worship, they began their march to Canaan. True religion begins with the knowledge of the holy law of God, and humiliation for sin, but we must go on towards perfection, in acquaintance with Christ and his gospel, and those effectual encouragements, motives, and assistances to holiness, which it proposes. They took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord, Deuteronomy 1:6-8,. and as the cloud led them. Those who give themselves to the direction of God’s word and Spirit, steer a steady course, even when they seem bewildered. While they are sure they cannot lose their God and Guide, they need not fear losing their way. They went out of the wilderness of Sinai, and rested in the wilderness of Paran. All our removes in this world are but from one wilderness to another. The changes we think will be for the better do not always prove so. We shall never be at rest, never at home, till we come to heaven, but all will be well there.
Verse 29-32 – Moses invites his kindred to go to Canaan. Those that are bound for the heavenly Canaan, should ask and encourage their friends to go with them: we shall have none the less of the joys of heaven, for others coming to share with us. It is good having fellowship with those who have fellowship with God. But the things of this world, which are seen, draw strongly from the pursuit of the things of the other world, which are not seen. Moses urges that Hobab might be serviceable to them. Not to show where they must encamp, nor what way they must march, the cloud was to direct that; but to show the conveniences of the place they marched through, and encamped in. It well consists with our trust in God’s providence, to use the help of our friends.
Verse 33-36 – Their going out and coming in, gives an example to us to begin and end every day’s journey and every day’s work with prayer. Here is Moses’s prayer when the ark set forward, “Rise up, and let thine enemies be scattered.” There are those in the world who are enemies to God and haters of him; secret and open enemies; enemies to his truths, his laws, his ordinances, his people. But for the scattering and defeating of God’s enemies, there needs no more than God’s arising. Observe also the prayer of Moses when the ark rested, that God would cause his people to rest. The welfare and happiness of the Israel of God, consist in the continual presence of God among them. Their safety is not in their numbers, but in the favour of God, and his gracious return to them, and resting with them. Upon this account, Happy art thou, O Israel! who is like unto thee, O people! God will go before them, to find them resting-places by the way. His promise is, and their prayers are, that he will never leave them nor forsake them.