The Silver Trumpets
10 The Lord said to Moses: 2 “Make two trumpets of hammered silver, and use them for calling the community together and for having the camps set out.
The two silver trumpets were for use in directing the movement of the camps for marching and for battle, and also for gathering the nation together for an assembly.The trumpets were essential tools for the journey to the Promised Land. Without them it would be very difficult to assemble the nation and march towards the Promised Land. Israel needed tools to come into the Promised Land.
3 When both are sounded, the whole community is to assemble before you at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 4 If only one is sounded, the leaders—the heads of the clans of Israel—are to assemble before you. 5 When a trumpet blast is sounded, the tribes camping on the east are to set out. 6 At the sounding of a second blast, the camps on the south are to set out. The blast will be the signal for setting out. 7 To gather the assembly, blow the trumpets, but not with the signal for setting out.
8 “The sons of Aaron, the priests, are to blow the trumpets. This is to be a lasting ordinance for you and the generations to come. 9 When you go into battle in your own land against an enemy who is oppressing you, sound a blast on the trumpets. Then you will be remembered by the Lord your God and rescued from your enemies. 10 Also at your times of rejoicing—your appointed festivals and New Moon feasts—you are to sound the trumpets over your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, and they will be a memorial for you before your God. I am the Lord your God.”
Distinctive sounds were made to indicate gathering for assembly, marching, or warfare. God also promised to hear the trumpet of Israel in warfare, and to act on behalf of the nation. Trumpets were also to be sounded in “the day of your gladness”; they were a way of celebrating God’s people coming together and the presence of the LORD with them.
The Israelites Leave Sinai
11 On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the covenant law. 12 Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran. 13 They set out, this first time, at the Lord’s command through Moses.
As the cloud began to move, now they were on their way to the Promised Land! As we know from previous chapters, their journey had been from Egypt and slavery; now it was to Canaan and liberty. After all the preparations, becoming ordered and set apart, this was the first time Israel marched as an organized, prepared nation. They were not the same group that escaped Egypt as a mob.
14 The divisions of the camp of Judah went first, under their standard. Nahshon son of Amminadab was in command. 15 Nethanel son of Zuar was over the division of the tribe of Issachar, 16 and Eliab son of Helon was over the division of the tribe of Zebulun. 17 Then the tabernacle was taken down, and the Gershonites and Merarites, who carried it, set out.
18 The divisions of the camp of Reuben went next, under their standard. Elizur son of Shedeur was in command. 19 Shelumiel son of Zurishaddai was over the division of the tribe of Simeon, 20 and Eliasaph son of Deuel was over the division of the tribe of Gad. 21 Then the Kohathites set out, carrying the holy things. The tabernacle was to be set up before they arrived.
22 The divisions of the camp of Ephraim went next, under their standard. Elishama son of Ammihud was in command. 23 Gamaliel son of Pedahzur was over the division of the tribe of Manasseh, 24 and Abidan son of Gideoni was over the division of the tribe of Benjamin.
25 Finally, as the rear guard for all the units, the divisions of the camp of Dan set out under their standard. Ahiezer son of Ammishaddai was in command. 26 Pagiel son of Okran was over the division of the tribe of Asher, 27 and Ahira son of Enan was over the division of the tribe of Naphtali. 28 This was the order of march for the Israelite divisions as they set out.
They actually marched in the order God had commanded earlier in the book. They took God’s word seriously and followed it exactly – just as they should. This was the beginning.
29 Now Moses said to Hobab son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place about which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”
30 He answered, “No, I will not go; I am going back to my own land and my own people.”
31 But Moses said, “Please do not leave us. You know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can be our eyes. 32 If you come with us, we will share with you whatever good things the Lord gives us.”
Moses was a wise enough leader to know his limitations, and to know that he needed help. Instead of just saying, “well, God got us this far and He’ll see us through without Reuel” he knew God’s help often comes through men like Reuel. Since he knew God could use Reuel in a significant way, Moses was willing to appeal to him and not take “no” as an answer.
33 So they set out from the mountain of the Lord and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the Lord went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest. 34 The cloud of the Lord was over them by day when they set out from the camp.
35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses said,
“Rise up, Lord!
May your enemies be scattered;
may your foes flee before you.”
36 Whenever it came to rest, he said,
to the countless thousands of Israel.”
As they begin the journey to the Promised Land, they were guided by God’s presence – and not by themselves. They followed the cloud no matter where God led them. If they were to camp in a rough place, they did it. If they were told to go on from a comfortable place, they did it. They allowed themselves to be guided by God, not by their own desire for comfort and ease.
“Rise up, O LORD! Let Your enemies be scattered, and let those who hate You flee before You” was the prayer of Moses when the presence of God led them on.
“Return, O LORD, to the many thousands of Israel”: This was the prayer of Moses when God’s presence stopped and indicated a place to camp. Moses then prayed, “Here we camp, LORD. Stay with us.”