Numbers 10


Moses is commanded to make two silver trumpets for calling the

assembly, 1, 2.

On what occasions these trumpets should be sounded. First, for

calling the assembly to the door of the tabernacle, 3.

Secondly, to summon the princes and captains of the thousands

of Israel, 4.

Thirdly, to make the eastern camps strike their tents, 5.

Fourthly, to make those on the south do the like, 6.

No alarm to be sounded when the congregation only is to be

assembled, 7.

The sons of Aaron alone shall sound these trumpets, it shall be

a perpetual ordinance, 8.

Fifthly, the trumpets are to be sounded in the time of war, 9.

Sixthly, on festival occasions, 10

On the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year,

the Israelites began their journey from the wilderness of Sinai,

and came to the wilderness of Paran, 11, 12.

By the commandment of God to Moses the first division, at the

head of which was the standard of JUDAH, marched, first, 13, 14.

Under him followed the tribe of ISSACHAR, 15;

and after them the tribe of ZEBULUN, 16.

Then the Gershonites and Merarites followed with the tabernacle, 17.

At the head of the second division was the standard and camp of


and under him were that of SIMEON, 19;

and that of GAD, 20.

Next followed the Kohathites bearing the sanctuary, 21.

Then followed the third division, at the head of which was the

standard of the camp of EPHRAIM, 22;

and under him MANASSEH, 23;

and BENJAMIN, 24.

At the head of the fourth division was the standard of the camp

of DAN, 25;

and under him ASHER, 26;

and NAPHTALI, 27.

This was their ordinary method of marching in the wilderness, 28.

Moses entreats Hobab the Midianite to accompany them through the

wilderness, 29.

He refuses, 30.

Moses continues and strengthens his entreaties with reasonings

and promises, 31, 32.

They depart from Sinai three days' journey, 33.

The cloud accompanies them by day and night, 34.

The words used by Moses when the ark set forward, 35,

and when it rested, 36.


Verse 2. Make thee two trumpets of silver] The necessity of

such instruments will at once appear, when the amazing extent of

this numerous army is considered; and how even the sound of two

trumpets could reach them all is difficult to conceive; but we may

suppose that, when they were sounded, the motion of those that

were within reach of that sound taught the others in succession

what they should do.

As the trumpets were to be blown by the priests only, the sons

of Aaron, there were only two, because there were only two such

persons to use them at this time, Eleazar and Ithamar. In the

time of Joshua there were seven trumpets used by the priests, but

these were made, according to our text, of rams' horns, Jos 6:4.

In the time of Solomon, when the priests had greatly increased,

there were 120 priests sounding with trumpets, 2Ch 5:12.

Josephus intimates that one of these trumpets was always used to

call the nobles together, the other to assemble the people; see

Nu 9:4. It is possible that these trumpets were made of

different lengths and wideness, and consequently they would emit

different tones. Thus the sound itself would at once show which

was the summons for the congregation, and which for the princes

only. These trumpets were allowed to be emblematical of the sound

of the Gospel, and in this reference they appear to be frequently

used. Of the fate of the trumpets of the sanctuary,

See Clarke on Ex 25:31.

Verse 5. When ye blow an alarm] teruah, probably

meaning short, broken, sharp tones, terminating with long ones,

blown with both the trumpets at once. From the similarity in the

words some suppose that the Hebrew teruah was similar to the Roman

taratantara, or sound of their clarion.

Verse 6. When ye blow an alarm the second time] A single

alarm, as above stated, was a signal for the eastward division to

march; two such alarms, the signal for the south division; and

probably three for the west division, and four for the north.

It is more likely that this was the case, than that a single alarm

served for each, with a small interval between them.

The camps, or grand divisions of this great army, always lay, as

we have already seen, to the east, south, west, and north: and

here the east and south camps alone are mentioned; the first

containing Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun; the second, Reuben,

Simeon, and Gad. The west and north divisions are not named,

and yet we are sure they marched in consequence of express orders

or signals, as well as the other two. There appears therefore a

deficiency here in the Hebrew text, which is thus supplied by the

Septuagint: καισαλπιειτεσημασιαντριτηνκαιεξαρουσιναι

παρεμβολαιαιπαρεμβαλλουσαιπαραθαλασσαν. καισαλπιειτε


προςβορραν. "And when ye blow a third alarm or signal, the camps

on the west shall march: and when ye blow a fourth alarm or

signal, the camps on the north shall march." This addition,

however, is not acknowledged by the Samaritan, nor by any of the

other versions but the Coptic. Nor are there any various readings

in the collections of Kennicott and De Rossi, which countenance

the addition in the above versions. Houbigant thinks this

addition so evidently necessary, that he has inserted the Latin in

his text, and in a note supplied the Hebrew words, and thinks that

these words were originally in the Hebrew text, but happened to be

omitted in consequence of so many similar words occurring so often

in the same verse, which might dazzle and deceive the eye of a


Verse 9. If ye go to war] These trumpets shall be sounded for

the purpose of collecting the people together, to deliberate about

the war, and to implore the protection of God against their


Ye shall be remembered before the Lord] When ye decamp, encamp,

make war, and hold religious festivals, according to his

appointment, which appointment shall be signified to you by the

priests, who at the command of God, for such purposes, shall blow

the trumpets, then ye may expect both the presence and blessing of

Jehovah in all that ye undertake.

Verse 10. In the day of your gladness] On every festival the

people shall be collected by the same means.

Verse 11. The twentieth day of the second month] The

Israelites had lain encamped in the wilderness of Sinai about

eleven months and twenty days; compare Ex 19:1 with this verse.

They now received the order of God to decamp, and proceed towards

the promised land; and therefore the Samaritan introduces at this

place the words which we find in De 1:6-8: "The Lord our God

spake unto us in Horeb, saying: Ye have dwelt long enough in this

mount, turn and take your journey," &c.

Verse 12. The cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.] This

was three days' journey from the wilderness of Sinai,

(see Nu 10:33,) and the people had three stations; the first at

Kibroth-hattaavah, the second at Hazeroth, Nu 11:35, and the

third in the wilderness of Paran, see Nu 12:16. But it is

extremely difficult to determine these journeyings with any degree

of exactness; and we are often at a loss to know whether the place

in question was in a direct or retrograde position from the place

previously mentioned.

Verse 14. The standard-of Judah] See this order of marching

explained at large on Nu 2:1-31. The following is the order in

which this vast company proceeded in their march:-




Gershonites, and

Merarites carrying the tabernacle.




The Kohathites with the sanctuary.







Verse 29. Moses said unto Hobab] For a circumstantial account

of this person see the notes on Ex 2:15, 16, 18; 3:1; 4:20, 24;

and for the transaction recorded here, and which is probably out

of its place, see Ex 18:5, where the subject is discussed at


We are journeying] God has brought us out of thraldom, and we

are thus far on our way through the wilderness, travelling towards

the place of rest which he has appointed us, trusting in his

promise, guided by his presence, and supported by his power. Come

thou with us, and we will do thee good. Those who wish to enjoy

the heavenly inheritance must walk in the way towards it, and

associate with the people who are going in that way. True

religion is ever benevolent. They who know most of the goodness

of God are the most forward to invite others to partake of that

goodness. That religion which excludes all others from salvation,

unless they believe a particular creed, and worship in a

particular way, is not of God. Even Hobab, the Arab, according to

the opinion of Moses, might receive the same blessings which God

had promised to Israel, provided he accompanied them in the same


The Lord hath spoken good concerning Israel.] The name Israel

is taken in a general sense to signify the followers of God, and

to them all the promises in the Bible are made. God has spoken

good of them, and he has spoken good to them; and not one word

that he hath spoken shall fail. Reader, hast thou left thy

unhallowed connections in life? Hast thou got into the camp of

the Most High? Then continue to follow God with Israel, and thou

shalt be incorporated in the heavenly family, and share in

Israel's benedictions.

Verse 30. I will not go; but I will depart to mine own land,

and to my kindred.] From the strong expostulations in verses 31

and 32, and from Jud 1:16; 4:11, and 1Sa 15:6, it is

likely that Hobab changed his mind; or that, if he did go back to

Midian, he returned again to Israel, as the above scriptures show

that his posterity dwelt among the Israelites in Canaan. Reader,

after having been almost persuaded to become a Christian, to take

Christ, his cross, his reproach, and his crown, for thy portion,

art thou again purposing to go back to thy own land, and to thy

kindred? Knowest thou not that this land is the place of

destruction-that the children of this world, who are not taking

God for their portion, are going to perdition? Up, get thee

hence, for the Lord will destroy this place by fire; and all who

are not of the kindred and family of Christ shall perish at the

brightness of his appearing!

Verse 31. Thou mayest be to us instead of eyes.] But what need

had they of Hobab, when they had the pillar and fire continually

to point out their way? Answer: The cloud directed their general

journeys, but not their particular excursions. Parties took

several journeys while the grand army lay still. (See chap.

xiii., xx., xxxi., xxxii., &c.) They therefore needed such a

person as Hobab, who was well acquainted with the desert, to

direct these particular excursions; to point them out watering

places, and places where they might meet with fuel, &c., &c. What

man cannot, under the direction of God's providence, do for

himself, God will do in the way of especial mercy. He could have

directed them to the fountains and to the places of fuel, but

Hobab can do this, therefore let Hobab be employed; and let Hobab

know for his encouragement that, while he is serving others in the

way of God's providence, he is securing his own best interests.

On these grounds Hobab should be invited, and for this reason

Hobab should go. Man cannot do God's work; and God will not do

the work which he has qualified and commanded man to perform.

Thus then the Lord is ever seen, even while he is helping man by

man. See some valuable observations on this subject in Harmer,

vol. ii., 286. Instead of, And thou mayest be to us instead of

eyes, the Septuagint translate the passage thus: καιεσηεν

πρεσβυρης, And thou shalt be an elder among us. But Moses

probably refers to Hobab's accurate knowledge of the wilderness,

and to the assistance he could give them as a guide.

Verse 33. The ark-went before them] We find from Nu 10:21 that

the ark was carried by the Kohathites in the center of the army;

but as the army never moved till the cloud was taken up, it is

said to go before them, i. e., to be the first to move, as without

this motion the Israelites continued in their encampments.

Verse 35. Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered]

If God did not arise in this way and scatter his enemies, there

could be no hope that Israel could get safely through the

wilderness. God must go first, if Israel would wish to follow in


Verse 36. Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.]

These were the words spoken by Moses, at the moment the divisions

halted in order to pitch their tents. In reference to this

subject, and the history with which it is connected, the 68th

Psalm seems to have been composed, though applied by David to the

bringing the ark from Kirjath-jearim to Jerusalem. See the notes

on Psa. lxviii. Many thousands, literally the ten thousand

thousands. Unless the ark went with them, and the cloud of the

Divine glory with it, they could have neither direction nor

safety; unless the ark rested with them, and the cloud of glory

with it, they could have neither rest nor comfort. How necessary

are the word of God and the Spirit of God for the direction,

comfort, and defence of every genuine follower of Christ! Reader,

pray to God that thou mayest have both with thee through all the

wilderness, through all the changes and chances of this mortal

life: if thou be guided by his counsel, thou shalt be at last

received into his glory.

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