The Blowing of Trumpets1 ▼ The Lord spoke to Moses: 2“Make ▼
▼ The Hebrew text uses what is called the “ethical dative” – “make [for] you two trumpets.” It need not be translated, but can simply be taken to underscore the direct imperative.two trumpets of silver; you are to make ▼
▼ The imperfect tense is again instruction or legislation.them from a single hammered piece. ▼
▼ The instructions are not clearly spelled out here. But the trumpets were to be made of silver ingots beaten out into a sheet of silver and then bent to form a trumpet. There is archaeological evidence of silver smelting as early as 3000 b.c. Making silver trumpets would have been a fairly easy thing for the Israelites to do. The trumpet would have been straight, with a tapered form, very unlike the “ram’s horn” (שׁוֹפָר, shofar). The trumpets were used by the priests in Israel from the outset, but later were used more widely. The sound would be sharp and piercing, but limited in scope to a few notes. See further C. Sachs, The History of Musical Instruments.You will use them ▼
▼ Heb “and they shall be for you for assembling,” which is the way of expressing possession. Here the intent concerns how Moses was to use them.for assembling the community and for directing the traveling of the camps. 3When ▼
▼ The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive is here subordinated as a temporal clause to the following similar verbal construction.they blow ▼
▼ The verb תָקַע (taqa’) means “to strike, drive, blow a trumpet.”them both, all the community must come ▼
▼ Heb “the assembly shall assemble themselves.”to you to the entrance of the tent of meeting.
4 “But if they blow with one trumpet, then the leaders, the heads of the thousands of Israel, must come to you. ▼
▼ Heb “they shall assemble themselves.”5When you blow an alarm, ▼ then the camps that are located ▼
▼ Heb “the camps that are camping.”on the east side must begin to travel. ▼
▼ The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive functions as the equivalent of the imperfect tense. Here the emphasis is on the start of the journey.6And when you blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that are located on the south side must begin to travel. ▼
▼ The MT does not mention the departures of the northerly and westerly tribes. The Greek text completes the description by adding them, making a full schedule of the departure of the groups of tribes. The Greek is not likely to be original, however, since it carries all the signs of addition to complete the text, making a smooth, full reading. The MT is to be preferred; it apparently used two of the groups to give the idea.An alarm must be sounded ▼
▼ The Hebrew text has “they shall blow an alarm”; the sentence without a formal subject should be taken as a passive idea.for their journeys. 7But when you assemble the community, ▼
▼ There is no expressed subject in the initial temporal clause. It simply says, “and in the assembling the assembly.” But since the next verb is the second person of the verb, that may be taken as the intended subject here.you must blow, but you must not sound an alarm. ▼
▼ The signal for moving camp was apparently different in tone and may have been sharper notes or a different sequence. It was in some way distinguishable.8The sons of Aaron, the priests, must blow the trumpets; and they will be to you for an eternal ordinance throughout your generations. 9If you go to war in your land against an adversary who opposes ▼
▼ Both the “adversary” and “opposes” come from the same root: צָרַר (tsarar), “to hem in, oppress, harass,” or basically, “be an adversary.”you, then you must sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before the Lord your God, and you will be saved ▼
▼ The Niphal perfect in this passage has the passive nuance and not a reflexive idea – the Israelites would be spared because God remembered them.from your enemies.
10 “Also in the time when you rejoice, such as ▼
▼ The conjunction may be taken as explicative or epexegetical, and so rendered “namely; even; that is,” or it may be taken as emphatic conjunction, and translated “especially.”on your appointed festivals or ▼
▼ The vav (ו) is taken here in its alternative use and translated “or.”at the beginnings of your months, you must blow with your trumpets over your burnt offerings and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings, so that they may ▼
▼ The form is the perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. After the instruction imperfects, this form could be given the same nuance, or more likely, subordinated as a purpose or result clause.become ▼
▼ The verb “to be” (הָיָה, hayah) has the meaning “to become” when followed by the preposition lamed (ל).a memorial for you before your God: I am the Lord your God.”
The Journey From Sinai to Kadesh11 ▼ On the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle of the testimony. ▼ ▼
▼ The expression is difficult; it is מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת (mishkan ha’edut). The reference is to the sacred shrine that covered the ark with the commandments inside. NEB renders the expression as “tabernacle of the Token”; NAB has “the dwelling of the commandments.”12So the Israelites set out ▼
▼ The verb is the same as the noun: “they journeyed on their journeyings.” This underscores the point of their continual traveling.on their journeys from the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud settled in the wilderness of Paran.
Judah Begins the Journey13 This was the first time they set out on their journey according to the commandment ▼
▼ Heb “mouth.”of the Lord, by the authority ▼
▼ Heb “hand.”of Moses.
14 The standard ▼
▼ The “standard” (דֶּגֶל, degel) was apparently some kind of a symbol put up on a pole to signify the tribal hosts. R. de Vaux thought it simply referred to a pole or a mast, but that would not distinguish tribes (Ancient Israel, 226–27).of the camp of the Judahites set out first according to their companies, and over his company was Nahshon son of Amminadab.
15 Over the company of the tribe of Issacharites was Nathanel son of Zuar, 16and over the company of the tribe of the Zebulunites was Elion son of Helon. 17Then the tabernacle was dismantled, and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set out, carrying the tabernacle.
Journey Arrangements for the Tribes18 The standard of the camp of Reuben set out according to their companies; over his company was Elizur son of Shedeur. 19Over the company of the tribe of the Simeonites was Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai, 20and over the company of the tribe of the Gadites was Eliasaph son of Deuel. 21And the Kohathites set out, carrying the articles for the sanctuary; ▼
▼ Heb “carrying the sanctuary,” a metonymy of whole for parts, representing all the holy objects that were located in the sanctuary.the tabernacle was to be set up ▼
▼ The verb is the third person plural form; without an expressed subject it is treated as a passive.before they arrived. ▼
▼ Heb “against their coming.”22And the standard of the camp of the Ephraimites set out according to their companies; over his company was Elishama son of Ammihud. 23Over the company of the tribe of the Manassehites was Gamaliel son of Pedahzur, 24and over the company of the tribe of Benjaminites was Abidan son of Gideoni.
25 The standard of the camp of the Danites set out, which was the rear guard ▼
▼ The MT uses a word that actually means “assembler,” so these three tribes made up a strong rear force recognized as the assembler of all the tribes.of all the camps by their companies; over his company was Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai. 26Over the company of the tribe of the Asherites was Pagiel son of Ocran, 27and over the company of the tribe of the Naphtalites was Ahira son of Enan. 28These were the traveling arrangements ▼
▼ Or “journeyings of.”of the Israelites according to their companies when they traveled. ▼
▼ The verb is the preterite with vav (ו) consecutive. But in this sentence it should be subordinated as a temporal clause to the preceding statement, even though it follows it.
The Appeal to Hobab29 ▼
▼ For additional bibliography for this short section, see W. F. Albright, “Jethro, Hobab, and Reuel in Early Hebrew Tradition,” CBQ 25 (1963): 1-11; G. W. Coats, “Moses in Midian,” JBL 92 (1973): 3-10; B. Mazar, “The Sanctuary of Arad and the Family of Hobab the Kenite,” JNES 24 (1965): 297-303; and T. C. Mitchell, “The Meaning of the Noun ḥtn in the Old Testament,” VT 19 (1969): 93-112.Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel, the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, ▼
▼ There is a problem with the identity of Hobab. The MT says that he is the son of Reuel, making him the brother-in-law of Moses. But Judg 4:11 says he is the father-in-law. In Judg 1:16; 4:11 Hobab is traced to the Kenites, but in Exod 3:1 and 18:1 Jethro (Reuel) is priest of Midian. Jethro is identified with Reuel on the basis of Exod 2:18 and 3:1, and so Hobab becomes Moses’ חֹתֵן (khoten), a relative by marriage and perhaps brother-in-law. There is not enough information to decide on the identity and relationships involved here. Some suggest that there is one person with the three names (G. B. Gray, Numbers [ICC], 93); others suggest Hobab is a family name (R. F. Johnson, IDB 2:615), and some suggest that the expression “the son of Reuel the Midianite” had dropped out of the genealogy of Judges, leading to the conflict (J. Crichton, ISBE 2:1055). If Hobab is the same as Jethro, then Exod 18:27 does not make much sense, for Jethro did go home. On this basis many conclude Hobab is a brother-in-law. This would mean that after Jethro returned home, Moses conversed with Hobab, his brother-in-law. For more discussion, see the articles and the commentaries.“We are journeying to the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, ▼
▼ The verb is the Hiphil of the root “to be good” (יָטַב, yatav); it may be translated “treat well, deal favorably, generously with.” Here it is a perfect tense with vav (ו) following the imperative, showing a sequence in the verbal ideas.for the Lord has promised good things ▼
▼ The Hebrew text simply has “has spoken good” for Israel.for Israel.” 30But Hobab ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (Hobab) has been specified in the translation for clarity.said to him, “I will not go, but I will go instead to my own land and to my kindred.” 31Moses ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (Moses) has been specified in the translation for clarity.said, “Do not leave us, ▼
▼ The form with אַל־נָא (’al-na’) is a jussive; negated it stresses a more immediate request, as if Hobab is starting to leave, or at least determined to leave.because you know places for us to camp in the wilderness, and you could be our guide. ▼
▼ In the Hebrew text the expression is more graphic: “you will be for us for eyes.” Hobab was familiar with the entire Sinai region, and he could certainly direct the people where they were to go. The text does not record Hobab’s response. But the fact that Kenites were in Canaan as allies of Judah (Judg 1:16) would indicate that he gave in and came with Moses. The first refusal may simply be the polite Semitic practice of declining first so that the appeal might be made more urgently.32And if you come with us, it is certain ▼
▼ Heb “and it shall be.”that whatever good things the Lord will favor us with, we will share with you as well.”
33 So they traveled from the mountain of the Lord three days’ journey; ▼
▼ The phrase “a journey of three days” is made up of the adverbial accusative qualified with the genitives.and the ark of the covenant of the Lord was traveling before them during the three days’ journey, to find a resting place for them. 34 ▼ And the cloud of the Lord was over them by day, when they traveled ▼
▼ The adverbial clause of time is composed of the infinitive construct with a temporal preposition and a suffixed subjective genitive.from the camp. 35And when the ark traveled, Moses would say, “Rise up, O Lord! May your enemies be scattered, and may those who hate you flee before you!” 36And when it came to rest he would say, “Return, O Lord, to the many thousands of Israel!” ▼
▼ These two formulaic prayers were offered by Moses at the beginning and at the end of the journeys. They prayed for the Lord to fight ahead of the nation when it was on the move, and to protect them when they camped. The theme of the first is found in Ps 68:1. The prayers reflect the true mentality of holy war, that it was the Lord who fought for Israel and defended her. The prayers have been included in the prayer book for synagogue services.
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