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Adam Clarke Commentary

Numbers 2

Introduction

Moses commanded to teach the Israelites how they are to pitch their tents, and erect the ensigns of their fathers' houses, Numbers 2:1 , Numbers 2:2 . Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, on the East, amounting to 186,400 men, Numbers 2:3 -9. Reuben, Simeon, and Gad, on the South, with 151,450 men, Numbers 2:10 -16. The Levites to be in the midst of the camp, Numbers 2:17 . Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin, on the West, with 108,100 men, Numbers 2:18 -24. Dan, Asher, and Naphtali, on the North, with 157,600 men, Numbers 2:25 -31. The sum total of the whole, v. 603,550 men, Numbers 2:32 . But the Levites are not included, Numbers 2:33 . The people do as the Lord commands them, Numbers 2:34 .

Verse 2

Every man - shall pitch by his own standard - Commentators, critics, philosophers, and professional men, have taken a great deal of pains to illustrate this chapter by showing the best method of encampment for such a vast number of men, and the manner in which they conceive the Israelites formed their camp in the wilderness. As God gave them the plan, it was doubtless in every respect perfect; and fully answered the double purpose of convenience and security. Scheuchzer has entered into this subject with his usual ability, and in very considerable detail. Following the plan of Reyher, as in the preceding chapter, he endeavors to ascertain the precise order in which the several tribes were disposed; and as his work is both scarce and dear, the reader will not be displeased - to meet here with a translation of all that refers to the subject.Scheuchzer's Description and Plan of the Encampments of the Israelites in the WildernessJudah 186,400 Numbers 2:9 Reuben 151,450 Numbers 2:16 Ephraim 108,100 Numbers 2:24 Dan 157,600 Numbers 2:31 Notwithstanding this, however, the army was not in danger of being easily broken; for every tribe being numerous, they were supported by several ranks, in such a manner that the first being broken, the second was capable of making resistance; and if the second gave way, or shared the same fate as the first, it found itself supported by the third, and so on with the rest. The square form in which the Jewish army was ordinarily placed, was the very best for security and defense. The use and importance of the hollow square in military tactics is well known. "For so large a multitude of people, and for so numerous an army, it was needful that all the necessary articles of life should be prepared beforehand, or be found ready to purchase. In these respects nothing was wanting to the Israelites. Their bread came down to them from heaven, and they had besides an abundance of every thing that could contribute to magnificence. If we may credit Josephus, they had amongst them public markets, and a variety of shops. Ant., i. iii. c. 12, sec. 5. The tabernacle being erected, it was placed in the midst of the camp, each of the three tribes stretching themselves on the wings, and leaving between them a sufficient space to pass. "It was, says Josephus, like a well appointed market where every thing was ready for sale in due order, and all sorts of artificers kept their shops; so that this camp might be considered a movable city. "In Exodus 32:27 we likewise find that mention is made of the gates of the camp: 'Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp.' From whence we may certainly conclude that if the camp had gates, the Israelites had also sentinels to guard them. If this be true, we may also believe that they were surrounded with entrenchments, or that at least their gates were defended by some fortifications. Sagittarius (de Jan. Vet., c. 18. 10) pretends that the tabernacle was not only guarded by the Levites, but that there were likewise sentinels at the gates, and at the entrance of the Israelitish camps. See the note on Exodus 32:27 . "If we examine and compare the camp of Israel with that of our most numerous armies, which in these days are composed of 100,000 or of 150,000 men, we cannot but consider it of vast extent. The Jews say it was twelve miles in circumference; this is not at all improbable, and consequently the front of each wing must be three miles in extent. But taking in the tents, the soldiers and their numerous families, the beasts of burden, the cattle, and the goods, it certainly must have formed a very considerable enclosure, much more than twelve miles. See the notes on Exodus 12:37 , and Exodus 13:18 (note). Reyher (Math. Mos., p. 568) assigns to the Tribe of Judah, A space of 298 2/5 cubits in breadth and 250 in length - Which makes 74,600 square cubits. "We must observe that we are here merely speaking of the ground which the soldiers of this tribe occupied whilst remaining close to each other in their ranks, and that in this computation there is but one cubit square allowed for each man; wherefore, if we take in the arrangement of the soldiers, the tents, the necessary spaces, the families, the beasts of burden, and the movables, a much larger extent of ground is requisite. All those circumstances do not come into Reyher's calculation. He continues thus: - For the tribe of Issachar, 217 3/5cubits in breadth 250 in length - Total 54,400 square cubits.For the tribe of Gad, 140 5/11 cubits in breadth 325 in length - Total 45,650 square cubits.For the tribe of Zebulun, 229 3/4 cubits in breadth 250 in length - Total 57,400 square cubits.For the tribe of Ephraim, 202 1/2 cubits in breadth 200 in length - Total 40,500 square cubits.For the tribe of Reuben, 143 1/5 cubits in breadth 325 in length - Total 46,500 square cubits.For the tribe of Manasseh, 161 cubits in breadth 200 in length - Total 32,200 square cubits.For the tribe of Simeon, 182 6/13 cubits in breadth 325 in length - Total 59,300 square cubits.For the tribe of Benjamin, 177 cubits in breadth 200 in length - Total 35,400 square cubits.For the tribe of Dan, 156 3/4 cubits in breadth 400 in length - Total 62,700 square cubits.For the tribe of Asher, 103 3/4 cubits in breadth 400 in length - Total 41,500 square cubits.For the tribe of Naphtali, 133 1/2 cubits in breadth 400 in length - Total 53,400 square cubits.To the west, the Gershonites, Numbers 3:22 , Numbers 3:23 . Breadth 30 cubits Length 250 cubits - Total 7,500To the south, the Kohathites, Numbers 3:28 , Numbers 3:29 . Breadth 86 cubits Length 100 cubits - Total 8,600To the north, the Merarites, Numbers 3:34 , Numbers 3:35 . Breadth 62 cubits Length 100 cubits - Total 6,200There are then between the chiliarchs or colonels and the hecatontarchs or captains, lieutenant-colonels; and between the hecatontarchs and the decarchs, lieutenant-captains; and these have under them lieutenants and ensigns. "It is certain that this method of distributing an army by tens, and of encamping, which is very concise, has far greater advantages even with respect to expense than the very best plans of the Greeks, Romans, or any other ancient nation. On this subject we have the testimony of Simon Steven, Castrametat. c. 1, art. 1, and c. 4. art. 3, Oper. Math., p. 574 and 596, etc. According to this arrangement each soldier, or if more proper, each father of a family, being thus placed by ten and ten in a straight line one after the other, might very easily name themselves first, second, etc. Each troop in like manner might be distinguished by its ensigns, that of 100 might have them small, that of 1,000 larger, and that of 10,000 still larger. Every officer, from the lowest subaltern to the general officers of the camp, and even to the generalissimos themselves, had only an easy inspection of ten men each; the decarch had the inspection of 10 soldiers, the hecatontarch of 10 decarchs, and the chiliarch of 10 hecatontarchs. After the chiliarchs, which in no troop can amount to ten, there is the chief or head of each tribe. Each then exactly fulfilling the duty assigned him, we may suppose every thing to be in good order, even were the camp larger and more numerous. The same may be said respecting the contentions that might arise among the soldiers, as well as every thing relative to the general duty of the officers, as to the labors they were to undertake, whether for striking their tents for works of fortification or for making entrenchments. This arrangement might be easily retained in the memory, or a general list be kept of the names of both officers and soldiers to distribute to them their pay, and to keep exact accounts. "It was possible in one moment to know the number of those who were either wanting or were out of their ranks, and to avoid this disorder in future by obliging each man to attend to his duty and keep in his rank. If by chance it happened that any one man wished to desert or had escaped, it was easy to notice him and inflict on him the punishment he merited. The ensigns being distinguished by their marks, and the company being known, it was easy to find any soldier whatever. "The armies themselves might have certain marks to distinguish them, and by that means they might at once ascertain the person in question; for example: 8. 2. 7. 3. might signify the eighth soldier or father of a family, of the second rank, of the seventh company, in the third chiliad; 7. 3. 5. the halberdier of the decurion or sergeant of the seventh line, in the third company, of the fifth chiliad or thousand; 5. 8. the hecatontarchs or captains of the fifth company, in the eighth chiliad; 7. the chiliarchs or colonels of the seventh rank; 0. finally, the general of the whole army. Farther, by the same means the loss or misplacing of their arms might be prevented. Again, the soldiers might in a very short time be instructed and formed to the exercise of arms, each decad having its sergeant for its master; and the chariots or other carriages might easily be divided amongst several, 10 under the decurion, 100 under the hecatontarch; and by thus following the above method, every thing might be kept in good order.A Plan of the Whole Israelitish CampTribe Square Cubits Reuben 3049 Simeon 3443 The Gershonites 1224 The Kohathites 1311 The Merarites 1113 Judah 3862 Issachar 3298 Zebulun 3388 Gad 3019 Asher 2880 Manasseh 2537 Ephraim 2846 Benjamin 2660 Dan 3541 Naphtali 3268 1. The Commander-in-chief.2. Lieutenant-generals, who command divisions of the army: (these divisions consist of 2 or 3 brigades each, which, on an average, amount to 5,000 men).3. Major-generals, who command brigades: (these brigades consist of from 2 to 3,000 men [2,500 is perhaps the average] according to the strength of the respective regiments of which the brigade is composed).4. Colonels in the army, or lieutenant-colonels, who command single regiments; they are assisted in the command of these regiments by the majors of the regiments. [I mention the major, that there may be no break in the descending scale of gradation of ranks, as in the event of the absence of the above two officers, he is the next in command].5. Captains who command companies: these companies (on the war establishment) consist of 100 men each, and there are 10 companies in every regiment, consequently a colonel, or lieutenant-colonel, commands 1,000 men.6. Lieutenants, of which there are 2 to every company7. Ensign; 1 to each company.The Lietuenants and ensigns are subaltern officers, having no command, but assisting the captain.1. Commander-in-chief2. Lieutenant-generals commanding divisions of 5,000 each3. Major-generals, brigades 2,500. }} These are called general officers. 4. Colonels, lieutenant-colonels, and majors; }} Three officers belonging to each regiment in the service, and are solely employed in the disciplining and commanding the men; these are mounted on horseback, and termed field-officers. 5. 1 Captain 6. 2 Lieutenants7. 1 Ensign }} to each company Ascending scale of ranks which every officer must pass through.EnsignLieutenantCaptainMajorLieutenant-colonelColonel }} to every regiment Major-general, brigade-commander. Lieutenant-general, division-commander. General-in-chief, who commands the whole army Diagram of the Israelitish CampThough I particularly refer the reader to the above diagram (see Scheuchzer's plate #1) of the Israelitish camp, taken from Scheuchzer's plate, which I have thought necessary to be subjoined to his description, yet I think it also proper to introduce that on the next page (see Scheuchzer's plate #2), as it gives a general and tolerably correct idea of this immense camp, in the description of which the inspired writer has been so very particular; but still I must say these things are to be considered as probably, not as absolutely certain; as comprising a general view of what may be supposed probably, likely, and practicable.The whole may be said to consist of three camps, viz.,1. The camp of the Lord;2. The camp of the Levites; and3. The camp of the people.These in the grand camp in the wilderness, corresponded with the holy of holies, the holy place, and the outward court of the Temple at Jerusalem. See Ainsworth.

Numbers 2


  1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
  2 Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch.
  3 And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah.
  4 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred.
  5 And those that do pitch next unto him shall be the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the children of Issachar.
  6 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.
  7 Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon shall be captain of the children of Zebulun.
  8 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.
  9 All that were numbered in the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth.
  10 On the south side shall be the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur.
  11 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.
  12 And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the children of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
  13 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.
  14 Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel.
  15 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty.
  16 All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank.
  17 Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.
  18 On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud.
  19 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred.
  20 And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
  21 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.
  22 Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.
  23 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.
  24 All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim were an hundred thousand and eight thousand and an hundred, throughout their armies. And they shall go forward in the third rank.
  25 The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
  26 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.
  27 And those that encamp by him shall be the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran.
  28 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and one thousand and five hundred.
  29 Then the tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan.
  30 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.
  31 All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindmost with their standards.
  32 These are those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.
  33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses.
  34 And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers.

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