Ten days short of a year after arriving at Sinai, the nation celebrates the spring feasts (the second celebration of Passover1), and prepares to break camp. The movement of the Cloud2 (vv 11-12) Numbers 10 outlines a sequential marching process. Numbers 10 does not say they took off and headed East. But the tribes of the East (Numbers 2) were assigned to take the lead. Levi’s three sons were each assigned carrying duties in Numbers 4.
The decampment was a very orderly and deliberate process. The tribe of Judah took off early in the morning, and the Tribe of Naphtali much later in the day. The tribe of Naphtali might actually have had no journey that day – just the alignment into the traveling lineup.
The decampment from Sinai ranks among the scenes to visit once the time machine arrives.
1 In Numbers 9:6-14, God grants a “deutero-Passover” date for some excused absences on Nisan 15 – precisely a 30-day delay. Modern schedules frequently conflict with key dates, and a family might frequently reschedule the event according to convenience. Celebrating God is not a convenience. God prescribes the make-up date.
2 This is God Himself taking on the form of a cloud – sometimes called the Shekinah Glory (God dwelling). Ezekiel discusses this appearing form in more detail.
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