Imatges de pÓgina
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On the south side were the Kohathites, a part of the Levites, descended from Kohath, the second son of Levi.

On the west side were the Gershonites, another part of the Levites, descended from Gershon, Levi's eldest son.

On the north side were planted the Merarites, the remaining part of the Levites, who descended from Merari, Levi's youngest son.

Such was the manner of the encampment of the Israelites, being the only regular description of one which the Bible contains; but, from incidental allusions, we may gather that the camps which the Hebrews in after-times formed in their military operations, differed in several respects from the present, the admirable arrangement of which is easily perceived, although some difference of opinion exists as to a few of the details.


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The diagram above will exhibit the apparent order better than a verbal descrip tion, however minute. It is thus seen that the camp was formed in a quadrangle, having on each side three tribes under one general standard. How these tribes were placed with regard to each other is not very clear; some fix the leading tribe in the centre, and the two others on each side; but the description seems rather to indicate that the leading tribe extended along the whole exterior line, and that the two other tribes pitched beside each other, within. The only other alternative seems 10 be, to suppose that the two minor tribes also extended in full line, the last tribe mentioned in each division, being the innermost. The collective encampment enclosed a

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large open square, in the centre of which stood the tabernacle. The position which the tabernacle thus occupied still remains the place of honor in grand oriental camps, and is usually occupied by the tent of the king or general. The distance between it and the common camp was indicative of respect; what the distance was we are not told, except by the Rabbins, who say that it was two thousand cubits, and apparently ground this statement upon Josh. iii. 4. The interval was not however wholly vacant, being occupied by the small camps of the Levites, who had the charge and custody of the tabernacle, and pitched their tents around it; the tents of Moses, Aaron, and the priests, occupying the most honorable place, fronting the entrance to the tabernacle, or rather to the court which contained it. The Jewish writers say that the circumference of the entire encampment was about twelve miles; a statement which would seem sufficiently moderate when we recollect the hollow square in the centre, and consider the vast extent of ground required for the tents of two millions of people. This regular and admirable arrangement of so vast a host, under their ensigus, around the tabernacle, must have given a most striking and impressive appearance to the camp, as viewed from the hills. We know the effect which the view of it produced upon one person, who did view it from the hills, and then broke forth in rapture, exclaiming, “ How goodly are thy tents, 0 Jacob! and thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as the trees of lign-aloes which the Lord hath planted, and as cedar trees beside the waters.” (Num. xxiv. 5, 6.)

The encampment being thus formed, the nexi consideration was, to regulate the mode of marching, which was accordingly done as follows:

Whenever they were to decamp (which was always to take place as soon as the pillar of the cloud left the tabernacle) the trumpet was to be immediately sounded, and, upon the first alarm, the standard of Judah being raised, the three tribes which belonged to it were to set forward. On the movement of these the tabernacle was to be taken down with all convenient expedition, and the Gershonites and Merarites were to attend the wagons with the boards and staves belonging to it. This being done, a second alarm was to be given by the trumpet, on which the standard of Reuben's camp was to advance with the three tribes belonging to it. After these were to follow the Kohathites, bearing the sanctuary, which, because it was more holy, and not so cumbersome, as the pillars and boards of the tabernacle, was not to be put into a wagon, but carried on their shoulders. Next was to follow the standard of Ephraim's camp, with the tribes belonging to it; and, last of all, the other three tribes, under the standard of Dan, were to bring up the rear.

A short time after these matters were adjusted, the pillar of the cloud gave the Israelites a signal to decamp: On their beginning to move, agreeably to the order prescribed, Moses addressed himself to God.” “Rise," said he, “ Lord, and let ibine enemies be scattered; and let them that hate thee flee before thee. And when the ark of the covenant (by which they were directed when to stop) rested, he added “Return, O Lord, unto the many thousands of Israel.”

After marching for three days in the wilderness of Sinai, the Israelites began to complain of the fatigues of their journey, and to relate their grievances, with great asperity, to Moses. This so offended the Almighty, that he sent down fire from heaven, which destroyed all those who were situated in the extreme parts of the camp. The rest were so terrified at this circumstance, that they immediately applied to Moses, at whose intercession the fire ceased, but, in remembrance of the incident, he called the place Taberah, which, in the Hebrew language, signifies burning:

But this instance of the divine power had little effect on the dissatisfied Israelites. They made heavy complaints for want of flesh for food; and intimated to Moses how much happier they were when in the land of Egypt, where, though in a state of bondage, they could possess a variety of articles necessary for the preservation of life.

Moses had often heard them murmur, and patiently bome with it, but now that they were grown so numerous, and the greatness of ibeir numbers demanding still more care and vigilance to govern them than what came from the assistance of the magistrates appointed by the advice of his father-in-law Jethro, he became exceedingly uneasy, and, in an address to God, represented the great and heavy burdens under vhich he labored, in having the management of so numerous and dissatisfied a people.

No sooner did the Almighty hear the complaints of his faithful servant, than he mediately gave him relief, by ordering him to choose seventy men from among the elders of Israel, and to bring ihen with him to the tabernacle of the congregatiou.


“There,” said he, “I will come down and talk with thee, and I will give them a portion of the same spirit with which I have inspired thee; and they shall bear ihe burden of the people with thee.”

In conformity to the divine command, Moses selected seventy of the elders, sixtyeight of whom he conducted to the tabernacle, whither they had no sooner arrived, than the Almighty was pleased to fulfil his promise, by inspiring them with the like kind of spirit he had given to Moses, and by which they were enabled to prophest. Nay, so extensive was this inspiration, that though the other two came not out with the rest to the labernacle, but remained in the camp, yet they received the same ime pression of the spirit with the rest, and, in dike manner, prophesied. This circumstance so surprised a certain young man in the camp, that he immediately hastened to the tabernacle, to acquaint Moses that Edad and Medad (which were ihe pames of the two elders left behind) were prophesying in the camp. Joshua (who was to tally unacquainted with the operations of the Lord by his spirit) was likewise greatly surprised, and, thinking it a derogation of his masier, likewise ran to the tabernacle, and advised Moses to restrain them from that power which only belonged to hiinsell. But Moses reproved him for his conduct in these words: “ Dosi thou," said he, vy them on my account? Would to God that all the Lord's people were inspired, and that they might be endued with the spirit of prophecy!"

The murmurings of the people for want of flesh still continued, and to such a height did their fury arise, that they beset Moses's tent on all sides, and, in the most tumultuous manner, demanded of him to relieve their necessities. Thus circumstanced Moses applied himself to God, to whom he intimated the little probability there was of supplying so numerous a body of people with the article requested. The Almighty was pleased to promise that he would remove this evil; and at the same time gently rebuked Moses in these words : “Is the Lord's hand," said he, “waxed short ? thou shalt see now whether my word shall come to pass unto thee or not."

It was not long before this divine promise was fulfilled; for the Almighty causing a south wind to arise, it drove prodigious quantities of quails from the seacoast to within a mile of the camp, which being taken by the people, they seasted on them in the most greedy manner.

But God soon called them to a dreadful account for their insolent demand of flesh, and their distrust of his providence: for while they were regaling themselves with these dainties, he visited them with a severe plague, of which great numbers died, and were buried on the spot where they fell. In consequence of this circumstance the place was called Kibroth-Hattaavah, which signifies the graves or sepulchres of lust and concupiscence.

From this place the Israelites marched to Hazeroth, where they had not been long before another circum-tance occurred of a very disagreeable nature. Aaron and his sister Miriam, observing the great power their brother Moses had over the people, and that God chiefly made use of him in the delivery of his sacred oracles, began to look upon him with an eye of envy. To give some color to their conduct, they pretended to fall out with him, on account of his having married a foreigner, whom they contemptuously called an Ethiopian; and, to lessen his importauce, and at the same time enlarge their own, they added, "What, hath the Lord spoken only to Moses ? hath he not spoken also by us?"

Moses saw the discontent of his brother and sister; but considering it only as a personal pique, took no notice of it. The Almighty, however, being greatly offended at their conduct, thought proper to interpose, and convince them that such' behavior to his faithful servant was of the most heinous nature, and should not pass unnoticed. Ordering, therefore, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, to attend at the door of the tabernacle, he sharply rebuked the two latter for their insolence, asking them, how they durst speak against his servant Moses? “You," said he to Miriam, “ have shared in the prophetic office, and to you have I declared my will in dreams and visions; but with Moses I have conversed more familiarly, and I will speak face to face with him, and show him as much of my glory as he is capable of seeing."

Thus Moses had the secret satisfaction of finding himself justified by his divine protector; but Aaron, to his great confusion, beheld his sister Miriam made a dreadful example of God's anger. She was suddenly afflicted with a most dreadful and inveterate leprosy ; upon which Aaron, addressing himself to Moses, acknowledged the

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