Numbers 10 Commentary


The procession moves off (10:11-36)

Almost one year after they arrived at Mount Sinai, the people of Israel, led by Judah, moved off on the journey to Canaan (11-16; see Exod 19:1). The Gershonites and Merarites went in advance of the Kohathites, probably so that they could set up the tabernacle, ready for placement of the furniture when the Kohathites arrived (17-28).

Although the cloud guided Israel, the leaders still needed to know local conditions. For this reason Moses asked his brother-in-law Hobab to go with them, as Hobab had grown up in the region (29-32). Apparently the ark went in front of the whole procession, symbolizing, as Moses’ prayer indicated, the leadership of God in overcoming obstacles and making a way for his people. When the people set up a new camp (in this case, after three days’ journey) Moses prayed again, inviting God to dwell among them (33-36).

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