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Numbers 10:33

33 So they set out from the mountain of the LORD and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest.

Read Numbers 10:33 Using Other Translations

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.
So they set out from the mount of the LORD three days' journey. And the ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them three days' journey, to seek out a resting place for them.
They marched for three days after leaving the mountain of the LORD, with the Ark of the LORD ’s Covenant moving ahead of them to show them where to stop and rest.

What does Numbers 10:33 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Numbers 10:33

And they departed from the mount of the Lord three days'
journey
, From Mount Sinai, so called, because the Lord descended upon it, and gave the law from it; so the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan,

``from the mount on which the glory of the Lord (or of his Shechinah or divine Majesty) was revealed.''

This they left, after they had been nearly twelve months about it, and travelled three days' journey from it before the cloud rested, so as to abide, otherwise is stopped no doubt to give them time to eat their food, and take sleep and rest. The Targum of Jonathan expressly says, they went thirty six miles on that day; but, according to Bunting F15, Taberah or Kibrothhattaavah, to which the children of Israel first came, and where they abode a month, was but eight miles from Sinai; wherefore the three days' journey were not successively one after another, but the first day's journey was to Taberah, where they continued a month; the second day's journey was to Hazeroth, where they stayed seven days; and the third day's journey was to the wilderness of Paran, and there the cloud rested, ( Numbers 10:12 ) ; and there was their resting place, for there they continued long, from whence the spies were sent to the good land, and whither they returned after forty days, ( Numbers 13:1-3 Numbers 13:25 ) ;

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;
the ark being carried by the Kohathites, must proceed in the middle of the camps, after the camps of Judah and Reuben, and before the camps of Ephraim and Dan, according to the order of the marches of the children of Israel, ( Numbers 10:21 ) ; wherefore Aben Ezra thinks, that this three days' journey was different from all their other journeys; and that in this the ark went before them, which in other journeys was carried in the midst of them; yet others think it may be said to go before, though in the middle; just as a general of an army may be said to go before, and lead his army, though he is not directly in the front of it; so the cloud being always over the ark, directing the march, it may be said to go before and point out a convenient place to rest in; for searching cannot be properly ascribed to the ark, nor even to the Lord himself, and can only signify pointing out or discovering a proper place to take up their abode in: this ark of the covenant, so called because the covenant or law was laid up in it, was a type of Christ the end of the law for righteousness, and who is the forerunner of his people, is gone before them to prepare a place for them; and the three days' journey may have respect to his resurrection from the dead on the third day for their justification, which is the foundation of their rest, peace, and joy.


FOOTNOTES:

F15 Travels of the Patriarchs p. 82.
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