Complicated instructions are easier to understand when you see them in tables.

Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness –

The Order of March

Numbers 8:1-26, Levites Stand In for the Firstborn
Numbers 9:1-23, The First Passover
Numbers 9:11-12, The lamb's bones must not be broken
Numbers 10:1-10, Trumpets
Numbers 10:11-36, Setting Out from Sinai
Numbers 11:1-15, The people whine and complain.
Numbers 11:16-35, God answers.
Numbers 12:1-16, Aaron and Miriam complain; God answers.

More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness

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Meat Offering. Click to enlarge. See below for provenance.
Numbers 8:1-26, Levites Stand In for the Firstborn (11/8/11)

I asked my husband what happened in his (American Baptist) ordination ceremony.  He said there was a sermon, prayer, and laying on of hands with prayer.  From what I’ve read in The Discipline, this is about the same as the United Methodist ceremony.  The tradition of laying on of hands to consecrate people to the work of the church or synagogue is a very old one, as we see in vss. 9-10.

I didn’t know, however, that there was a mandatory retirement age for Levites.  After age 50, the retirees still hung around the tabernacle, but apparently in an advisory capacity.  Pretty cool.  I’m going to suggest that to my own employer.

Numbers 9:1-23, The First Passover (11/9/11)

1.  Everybody is to keep the Passover.    2.  Always follow God’s instructions.

Numbers 9:11-12, The lamb's bones must not be broken (4/7/09)

In setting up the Passover memorial feast, God gave rules to the Jews about each of the foods to be served. For example, no leavening may be used, because the Jews left Egypt in such a hurry that they didn't have enough time to let their bread rise. The center of the Passover feast is the Paschal lamb. As we saw in Exodus, several of the rules about the feast apply to the preparation of the lamb. For example, the lamb must be without blemish and must be slaughtered just at twilight. It must be completely consumed at the feast. Any family that is too small to eat the whole lamb must go in with a neighbor so that none of the meat will be left uneaten. The lamb must be roasted, not boiled, and the lamb must be roasted whole: none of the bones may be broken.

Numbers 10:1-10, Trumpets (11/10/11)

I’m confident that we would all recognize “Taps” and understand that it signified either time to go to bed or the burial of a soldier or veteran.  Most of us would recognize “Reveille” and understand that we were supposed to get out of bed and assemble.  Some of us would recognize a number of other bugle calls, e.g., “Charge.”  So did the children of Israel.  Although the tunes were very different and the instrument was slightly different, the purpose was exactly the same as the bugle calls of the modern military.

Numbers 10:11-36, Setting Out from Sinai (11/11/11)

One reason that state and local officials are always cautious about ordering an evacuation is that moving a lot of people at once is a big job that can result in property damage, injuries, and deaths.  The orderly movement of large groups takes careful planning, good organization, training, and cooperation.  The children of Israel had a planned order of march that allowed them to break camp and move on with the minimum of confusion.

Order of March
Verse Position Flag Tribe Head of the Army
14 First Judah       Judah Nahshon, son of Amminadab
15 Issachar   Nethanel, son of Zuar
16 Zebulun Eliab, son of Helon
17  Then the House was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari, who were responsible for moving the House, went forward.
Verse Position Flag Tribe Head of the Army
18 Next Reuben    Reuben    Elizur, son of Shedeur
19 Simeon Shelumiel, son of Zurishaddai
20 Gad Eliasaph, son of Reuel
21  Then the Kohathites went forward with the holy place; the others put up the House ready for their coming.
Verse Position Flag Tribe Head of the Army
22 Next Ephraim   Ephraim Elishama, son of Ammihud   
23 Manasseh Gamaliel, son of Pedahzur
24 Benjamin Abidan, son of Gideoni

25       Last       Dan          Dan Ahiezer, son of Ammishaddai
26 Asher Pagiel, son of Ochran
27 Naphtali   Ahira, son of Enan

Numbers 11:1-15, The people whine and complain. (11/14/11)

Now, all of us who have kids, or who have ever been kids, will recognize today’s scenario:
The children of Israel, back in Exodus 16, whined that they had no food.  God sent manna. Now they are whining that they don’t want manna, they want meat.  Moses is getting exasperated.

Numbers 11:16-35, God answers. (11/15/11)

There’s a lot going on in the second half of Numbers 11. 
Five plots in 20 verses, all mixed together.  No wonder we’re confused!

Numbers 12:1-16, Aaron and Miriam complain; God answers. (11/16/11)

Aaron and Moses were prophets, and Miriam was a prophetess, according to the official lists of the rabbis. So Miriam and Aaron were on solid ground when they asked, “Have the words of the Lord been given to Moses only? have they not come to us?” That’s not what they got into trouble for.

What they got into trouble for was their jealously and criticism of Moses, who was not only a prophet but the only prophet who spoke face to face with God. Moses was too gentle to raise his voice in his own defense, but God rebuked Aaron and Miriam on his behalf.

Surely someone will ask about this if I don’t say something now: no one knows why only Miriam was stricken with leprosy. Some have speculated that it was because Aaron couldn’t have led the worship if he had become leprous. Certainly he realized that he had done wrong and felt as if he shared her punishment.

More Adventures with Moses in the Wilderness
Census and Organization
The Order of March
Failure to Enter Canaan
Laws and Consequences
Complaints in the Desert
Balaam and Barak
Almost Ready to Leave
Scheduled Sacrifices
Getting Close to Canaan
Home at Last!

Copyright 2011, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved.
The illustration of the priests and people making an offering is from the Binns family Bible, now in the private collection of Regina Hunter.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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