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February 5th - Marshalling the Masses

Marshalling the Masses

(Numbers 1:1 – 2:34 and 9:1-12)


With the Tent of Meeting constructed and the priests ordained, the Hebrews were ready to celebrate their first Passover after the Exodus from Egypt.


The priests and the people marked this memorable occasion, following God’s instructions exactly.


Next, it was time for the people to be numbered. God ordered Moses to rally the clan leaders from the twelve tribes of Israel to perform a census of the people. (Bible scholars believe this occurred around 1445 B.C.) The clan leaders registered the people, keeping count of all men over age 20:


The Census of Israel (c1445 B.C.)


From the tribe of Reuben: 46,500 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Simeon: 59,300 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Gad: 45,650 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Judah: 74,600 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Issachar: 54,400 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Zebulun: 57,400 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Ephraim: 40,500 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Manasseh: 32,200 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Benjamin: 35,400 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Dan: 62,700 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Asher: 41,500 men aged 20 and older

From the tribe of Naphtali: 53,400 men aged 20 and older

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Total: 603,550 men aged 20 and older


(The tribe of Joseph became two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh, as the Levite tribe was not counted. The Levites were dedicated to the priesthood and priestly duties.)


At this point, the Israelites knew how many fighting men they would have, when the Lord called them to battle.

God then outlined exactly how the tribes were to be positioned, as they traveled and when they set up camp. Of course, all positions were based on proximity to the Tabernacle of the Lord, which was the center and focus of God’s people.


Personally, I find the camping instructions particularly interesting. The Lord instructed the tribes, totaling perhaps two million people (counting women and children), to camp around the Tabernacle, so that His dwelling place would be at the center of their community. Here’s a diagram of the positioning of the tribes, as they camped.



(The Gershonites, Kohathites and Merarites were divisions of the Levites, assigned priestly responsibilities, so they were to camp nearest to the Tabernacle.)


At the same time, of course, the Lord encamped around the people with His protection and His heavenly hosts, even as He does with those who honor Him today.


“The angel of the Lord encamps

around those who fear Him,

and He delivers them.”

(Psalm 34:7, NIV)


What a blessed mystery, that God can reside at the center of our lives and yet surround us at the same time. It cannot be otherwise for God’s faithful, for Jehovah intends to be both our priority and our protection.

May it be ever so, even as He has promised.


Will you pray with me?


Almighty and awesome God,

Who led Your people

Out of bondage

And into Your divine deliverance,

Have promised to deliver us as well.

Teach us to recognize

The things that bind us.

Be the center of our lives.

Be the boundary about us

That protects us from danger.

Be both our top priority

And our powerful Protector.

You amaze us.

May we honor You.

Amen.


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1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love your prayers! He does surround us!B

    ReplyDelete

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