Numbers Chapter 2
1:1-4:49 Numeration and Order of Service
2:1-34 Order of it's Encampment
Here as Numbers 2 opens, the time is still around the first day of the second month of the second year since YHVH brought the Israelites out of their bondage to the Egyptians. YHVH is going to establish the order the tribes of Israel are to be in when they encamp around the tabernacle whenever the tribes stop for the night.
Numbers 2:1 And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying,
Numbers 2:2 "Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of his father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch. -> As we can see, it is God that is going to establish the order of the tribes; He isn't going to leave it up to man. God is saying here that the head of each family must camp within the boundaries of their tribe which is identified by their standard (ensign). The word "standard" as used here is Hebrew word and Strong's Concordance number #1714 degel, pronounced deh'-gel and means: From H1713; a flag: - banner, standard. , while the word ensign is Hebrew word number #226 oth and means: Probable from H225 (in the sense of appearing); a signal (literally or figuratively), as a flag, beacon, monument, omen, prodigy, evidence, etc.: - Mark, miracle, (en-) sign, token. . Each tribe was said to have had as it's "sign" one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac, depicted upon their standard. The colors on the standards will come from the colors of the stones on the High Priest's Breast Plate.
This phrase "far off" in the Hebrew is "neged, pronounced neh'-ghed" and means that they will be over against the outside of the tabernacle, in other words, they'll be able to "see it" just like in the future Moses will be able to "see" the Promised Land but not able to enter into it while in his flesh body.
Numbers 2:3 And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab shall be captain of the children of Judah." -> The order as we'll see, proceeds according to the course of the sun: "east, south, west, north;" clockwise starting with the east. Judah's sign will be "Leo" (the lion). The East's colors on their standards will be taken from the colors of the stones on the second row of the High Priest's Breast Plate, which were the emerald, sapphire and the diamond. So the colors of the standard therefore could possibly have been green, red and white.
Also as we'll see, each camp will have three tribes, just like the High Priest's Breast Plate, each row consisting of three stones.
Numbers 2:4 And his host, and those that were numbered with them, were threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred. -> This corresponds with the number given from Numbers 1:27, so what we see, is that this number is the number of fighting men, not the total number of people in the tribe of Judah.
Numbers 2:5 "And those that do pitch next to him shall be of the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar shall be captain of the children of Issachar." -> Again, YHVH is delineating who is to be the head of the tribe; this too comes from Numbers 1. Issachar was the full blood brother of Judah, remember Leah was their mother, and as we'll see, their brother Zebulun will join them and be the third tribe on the east side of the tabernacle.
The sign on Issachar was Cancer, and again their colors were taken from the second row on the High Priest's Breastplate: the emerald, the sapphire and the diamond.
Numbers 2:6 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and four thousand and four hundred.
Numbers 2:7 "Then the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon shall be captain of the children of Zebulun." -> Zebulun is next on the east side, joining their brothers Judah and Issachar, this then completes the side facing "East" along the tabernacle of the congregation. Zebulun's sign on their standard was Virgo, and their colors were the emerald, the sapphire and the diamond.
Numbers 2:8 And his host and those that were numbered thereof, were fifty and seven thousand and four hundred.
2:9 Total. East
Numbers 2:9 All those that numbered of the camp of Judah were an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. "These shall first set forth. -> Quite a good sized army to "lead" the Israelites wherever they went, for this is who YHVH said should lead them, of course we know it was/is YHVH who actually lead them.
Numbers 2:10 On the south side shall be the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben shall be Elizur the son of Shedeur." -> We are now going to see which tribes God used to make up the "south" side of the tabernacle of the congregation. He starts with the tribe of Reuben, they will be the centerpiece of the three tribes on the south side. The sign on the standard of Reuben is Aquarius (man,) and the colors that will make up the standard are taken from the color of the stones on the top or first row from the High Priest's Breastplate: the sardius; the topaz and the carbuncle, most likely brown, yellow and a shade of green. Reuben, as we all know, was the first born of the twelve sons of Jacob and as such should have received the fristfruits blessings, however, he lost the birthright blessings because he slept with one of his father's wives (Rachel's) handmaids, Bilhah. We can read about this act in Genesis 30:14 And Reuben went in the days of the wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, "Give me, I pray thee, of thy son's mandrakes." -> In the manuscripts, in the Septuagint, we find that this word is "mandragora' and means that it is a root that can be "formed" by pinching it into the shape of a man, hence it's name. Also it was used as a "love-philtre," a potion or aphrodisiac. The real reason they used these mandrakes was to try and become pregnant, and that is what Rachel wanted to do here in this verse in Genesis 30:14, Leah's womb had dried up and she didn't want her husband, Jacob, to sleep with her sister, Rachel, Jacob's other wife, so she had her son Reuben go and fetch her some mandrakes. She was putting her trust in the mandrakes instead of where she should have put it: in YHVH.
As a side note, mandrakes in Arabic is "apples of satan."
Numbers 2:11 And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, were forty and six thousand and five hundred.
-> Reuben's numbers were low because of what he did.
Numbers 2:12 "And those which pitch by him shall be the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the tribe of Simeon shall be Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai." -> This is the second tribe on the side of the south. Simeon was Reuben's brother as he was also born of Leah. The sign on Simeon's standard was "Pisces."
Numbers 2:13 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.
Numbers 2:14 "Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel." -> Gad is the third tribe on the south side; this then completes both the east and the south. Gad, like Simeon is the brother of Reuben. The sign on Gad's standard is Aries.
Don't be confused by the name Reuel in this verse. This is almost a mistranslation because this Reuel is actually Raguel of whom we read of in Exodus 2:18, and when we come to Numbers 10:20 we'll read of him again, only there his name is Deuel, then in Numbers 10:29 we read of Moses' father-in-law Raguel also spelled Reuel. We must be careful not to confuse this Reuel with Esau's son Reuel of Genesis 36:4, for they are not the same.
Numbers 2:15 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty. -> Gad is the only tribe to be numbered down to the fifties.
2:16 Total. South
Numbers 2:16 All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. "And they shall set forth in the second rank.
Numbers 2:17 Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp; so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards. -> So all the tribe of the Levites will be enclosed in the center of the encampment, and as they camp is also the way that they will journey. In Numbers 3 we'll see exactly the way the tribes of the Levites are to be set within the camp. Also, as we'll see when we come to Numbers 10, it'll be the Gershonites and the Merarites that will take down, carry and set up the tabernacle, while the Kohathites will.
Numbers 2:18 On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud." -> God is now going to designate the three tribes that'll make up the "west" side of the tabernacle. Ephraim will be the centerpiece of the "south" and they will be the head of the 3 tribes on this side. The sign on Ephraim's (and Manasseh's as well) standard is the ox. In the zodiac both Ephraim and Manasseh represent the two horns of Taurus the bull and Ephraim the youngest bears the standard according to the blessing in Genesis 48:14-20. The colors on the standards of the three tribes on the west will be taken from the color of the stones on the fourth row of the breastplate: the beryl, the onyx and the jasper. And sign on the standard will be the ox, we will see this again in Deuteronomy: Deuteronomy 33:17 His (speaking of Judah) glory is like the firstling of his bullock, And his horns are like the horns of unicorns: With them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: And they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, And they are the thousands of Manasseh. -> We're starting to form a picture for the future here now: notice how the standards are? The east side is the lion, the south side is the man, and here the west is the ox. Can anybody guess what the north side is going to be? If we were to look in Ezekiel 1 we see faces in those vehicles, those faces are; Ezekiel 1:10 As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.. Also in Revelation; Revelation 4:7 And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast was like a calf, and the third beast had the face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle.
Numbers 2:19 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred.
Numbers 2:20 "And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur." -> As we saw above, the sign on their standard is the ox and their colors are made up from the colors of the stones in the fourth row of the breastplate.
Numbers 2:21 And his host, and those that are numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.
Numbers 2:22 "And the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni."
-> The sign on the standard of Benjamin is Gemini. We see that the sons of Rachel are all on the west side of the tabernacle.
Numbers 2:23 And his host, and of those that were numbered with them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.
2:24 Total. West
Numbers 2:24 All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim were an hundred thousand and eight thousand and an hundred, throughout their armies. "And they shall go forward in the third rank.
Numbers 2:25 The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai." -> This is the side of the north, the final side. The sign on north's standard is the eagle. The tribe of Dan will be the centerpiece surrounded by the tribes of Asher and Naphtali. The colors on the standard of the three tribes on the north side will be from the color of the stones in the third row in the breastplate: a ligure, an agate and an amethyst. Even though the sign on north's standard is the eagle, let's go back to Genesis and see what it should have been. Genesis 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. Why was Dan so spoken of? Because of his being the first tribe to fall to idolatry which we can read of in the book of Judges; Judges 18:29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city was Laish at the first.  And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. -> Now don't be too harsh on Dan, remember ALL the tribes fell into idolatry at some point, Dan just happened to be the first. Also, we see that Manasseh's sons made themselves priests and played church for the tribes of Dan. On account of this, Dan is not named in Revelation 7, and there also, Manasseh is merged into the tribe of Ephraim and together they are called the tribe of Joseph, for their father. Manasseh - this word here in this verse (Judges 18:30) is one of four that has a suspended letter. Here the letter (nun) is written partly in the line and partly above the line, to show that originally it formed no part of the word, but was put in to make it spell "Manasseh" instead of "Moses." Jonathan was the grandson of Moses (his contemporary Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, being mentioned in Judges 20:28). This was done for two reasons: (1) to spare the honour of Moses' memory and name; (2) to put the sin upon the one who committed so gross a sin. The Talmud gives this latter as the reason. Jonathan's name is changed and he is called Shebuel in I Chronicles 23:15-16 and again in 26:24. His name Shebuel is then later restored to Jonathan again after his repentance. Shebuel="he returned to El."
Numbers 2:26 And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.
Numbers 2:27 "And those that encamp by him shall be the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher shall be Pagiel the son of Ocran." -> Asher is the son of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid and they are put with Dan and Naphtali, the sons of Bilhah. The sign on the standard for Asher is Sagittarius (the archer) and as we saw above, their colors are the colors of the stones in the third row of the breastplate.
Numbers 2:28 And his host, and those that are numbered of them were forty and one thousand and five hundred.
Numbers 2:29 "Then the tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali shall be Ahira the son of Enan."
-> The sign on the standard of Naphtali is Capricorn, the goat, from Genesis 49:21 Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words. In other words, Naphtali is quick on his feet both in action and thought\words.
Numbers 2:30 And his host, and of those that were numbered of them, were fifty and three thousand and four hundred.
2:31 Total. North
Numbers 2:31 And all they that were numbered in the camp of Dan were an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. "They shall go hindmost with their standards." -> They'll be bringing up the read guard. 157,600 is a pretty good sized army to cover your back.
Numbers 2:32 These are those which are numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. -> The same number of the men aged 20 and up that are able to go to war.
Compare the four standards mentioned here in this chapter also with Revelation 4:6-8.
Numbers 2:33 But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses. -> Again, the Levites had no men in the armed service as YHVH commanded.
Numbers 2:34 And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers.