Numbers 2

Numbers 2 continues the rather amazing description of how Moses led the people. God’s instruction was very concise about how the people were to set up camp.  “The people of Israel shall camp each by his own standard, with the banners of their fathers’ houses. They shall camp facing the tent of meeting on every side”.  They were all to camp by their heritage, and each tribe was given specific direction on how that was to be done.  The locations were defined around the tent of meeting which was to be in the center of the camp and the focal point of the city.  Here is the instruction that was given:

Location from tent of meeting Tribe Number of people
East Judah/Issachar/Zebulun 186,400
South Reuben/Simeon/Gad 151,450
West Ephraim/Manasseh/Benjamin 108,100
North Dan/Asher/Naphtali 157,600

Can you imagine trying to manage the set up of a camp with over 600,000 people?  There were no easy ways to communicate then.  It had to be person to person.  And if only a few in each tribe wanted things their own way – the chaos would have prevented God’s people from ever getting anything done.  Obviously they understood the importance of following God’s direction through Moses and Aaron because scripture says “they camped by their standards, and so they set out, each one in his clan, according to his fathers’ house”.

The instructions included the order that the tribes would fall in line when they moved from place to place.  Again, no mention of questioning why the tribe of Judah always got to go first or why the tribes of the north always had to bring up the rear.  We simply see some plain old obedience going on.  Leadership delivers the message and the people execute.  I’m sure there were problems that had to be managed, but the feat of getting people to set up camp and travel according to this plan is amazing in scope and execution.  We don’t have any excuses with all the tools we have today to connect with people when considering how to get things done.

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