The order of the tribes in their tents.
- The tribes were to encamp about the tabernacle, which was to be in the midst of them. It was a token of God's gracious presence. Yet they were to pitch their tents afar off, in reverence to the sanctuary. The children of Israel put themselves in their posts, without murmuring or disputing; and as it was their safety, so it was their beauty. It is our duty and interest to be contented with the place allotted to us, and to endeavour to occupy it in a proper manner, without envying or murmuring; without ambition or covetousness. Thus the gospel church ought to be compact, according to the Scripture model, every one knowing and keeping his place; and then all that wish well to the church rejoice, beholding their order, ( Colossians 2:5 ) .
This chapter contains the order of the encampment and march of the tribes of Israel in their proper places about the tabernacle; the general direction for the same is in Nu 1:1,2; the particulars follow; on the cast of the tabernacle the camp of Judah was to pitch, and under his standard the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, Nu 1:3-9; on the south side of it the camp of Reuben, and under his standard the tribes of Simeon and Gad, Nu 1:10-16; then the tabernacle, with the camp of the Levites round it, were next, to stand or set forward, Nu 1:17; and on the west side the camp of Ephraim, and under his standard the tribes of Manasseh and Benjamin, Nu 1:18-24; and on the north side the camp of Dan, and under his standard the tribes of Asher and Naphtali, Nu 1:25-31; the sum total of the numbers of which camps are given, exclusive of the camp of Levi, Nu 1:32,33; and the chapter is concluded with observing, that all was done according to the commandment of God, Nu 1:34.