Today we begin Numbers Chapter Two.
For the Complete Jewish Bible, click here.
For the King James version, click here.
In Numbers Chapter Two, the Lord continues to prepare Israel for Holy War by giving instructions on how the tribes are to be positioned when they set up camp.
Keep in mind that all together we’re talking about an estimated population total of about 2-3 million people.
Given these huge numbers, the Lord didn’t order the Israelites to move frequently.
When they did settle down in one location, it was usually for a good several months and in some cases their period of encampment extended up into the years.
The organizational structure of the 12 tribes of Israel around the Tabernacle was based on the compass directions of north, south, east, and west.
Three tribes were assigned to each direction forming a tent village around the Holy Sanctuary that would protect it from enemy attacks.
What’s interesting is that in Egypt the Pharaoh used this exact same formation when he went to war.
Pharaoh’s regal tent was strategically situated in the center where it was surrounded by his royal battalions placed according to their rank.
Having spent centuries in Egypt, this style of battle formation would not have been lost on the Israelites.
This brings us to an interesting point.
A good majority of the rituals and customs that God gave to Israel were already firmly entrenched in the ancient Middle East prior to Sinai.
This may surprise you but among the things that were already in use in ancient Middle Eastern societies before Israel were the Menorah (Yup! That’s right!), the practice of circumcision, the burning of incense and of course animal sacrifices.
Understand that God will often use already existing customs and work within our present culture to communicate His Holy ways to us
This makes sense, doesn’t it?
If some of the well-entrenched civil customs which had taken centuries to develop weren’t necessarily evil from God’s perspective, it wouldn’t have been necessary for the Lord to reinvent the wheel and bombard the Israelites with things that would have been completely foreign to them.
This was just a matter of practicality.
Of course, God obviously didn’t retain everything.
There were many customs and practices He banned and others He transformed to fill them up with a different meaning for His purposes.