Numbers 10:21
And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary: and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Numbers 10:21. The others — The Gershonites and Merarites, who therefore marched after the first camp, a good distance from, and before the Kohathites, that they might prepare the tabernacle for the reception of its utensils, which the Kohathites brought some time after them.10:11-28 After the Israelites had continued nearly a year at mount Sinai, and all was settled respecting their future worship, they began their march to Canaan. True religion begins with the knowledge of the holy law of God, and humiliation for sin, but we must go on towards perfection, in acquaintance with Christ and his gospel, and those effectual encouragements, motives, and assistances to holiness, which it proposes. They took their journey according to the commandment of the Lord, De 1:6-8, and as the cloud led them. Those who give themselves to the direction of God's word and Spirit, steer a steady course, even when they seem bewildered. While they are sure they cannot lose their God and Guide, they need not fear losing their way. They went out of the wilderness of Sinai, and rested in the wilderness of Paran. All our removes in this world are but from one wilderness to another. The changes we think will be for the better do not always prove so. We shall never be at rest, never at home, till we come to heaven, but all will be well there.A more precise determination of the method of executing the order given in Numbers 2:17. The appointed place of the tabernacle, in the midst of the host, was represented during the march by the ark, the holy vessels, etc. carried by the Kohathites. The actual structure of the tabernacle was borne in advance by the Gershonites and Merarites, immediately behind the camp of Judah; so as to be set up ready against the arrival of the sacred utensils borne by the Kohathites. Compare Numbers 2; 4, 13-27. the children of Israel took their journey … by the hand of Moses—It is probable that Moses, on the breaking up of the encampment, stationed himself on some eminence to see the ranks defile in order through the embouchure of the mountains. The marching order is described (Nu 2:1-34); but, as the vast horde is represented here in actual migration, let us notice the extraordinary care that was taken for ensuring the safe conveyance of the holy things. In the rear of Judah, which, with the tribes of Issachar and Zebulun, led the van, followed the Gershonites and Merarites with the heavy and coarser materials of the tabernacle. Next in order were set in motion the flank divisions of Reuben and Ephraim. Then came the Kohathites, who occupied the center of the moving mass, bearing the sacred utensils on their shoulder. They were so far behind the other portions of the Levitical body that these would have time at the new encampment to rear the framework of the tabernacle before the Kohathites arrived. Last of all, Dan, with the associated tribes, brought up the rear of the immense caravan. Each tribe was marshalled under its prince or chief and in all their movements rallied around its own standard. The other, i.e. the Gershonites and Merarites, as is evident both from their work and office, which was to take down and set up the tabernacle, Numbers 3:25,26 4:22-33; and from Numbers 10:17, who therefore marched after the first camp, a good distance kern and before the Kohathites, that they might prepare the tabernacle for the reception of its utensils, which the Kohathites brought some time after them. And the Kohathites set forward,.... After the standard of the camps of Reuben, and between that and the standard of the camp of Ephraim, to, which there is an allusion in Psalm 80:2,

bearing the sanctuary, or the holy things, as Jarchi; the ark, as Aben Ezra; though not that only, which indeed might be eminently called so, it standing in the most holy place, over which were the mercy seat and cherubim, the residence of the divine Majesty; but all the holy things in the holy place, the candlestick, shewbread table, and the two altars, the altar of incense in the holy place, and the altar of burnt offerings in the court these they bore on their shoulders, and had no wagons allowed for their assistance:

and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came; that is, the sons of Gershon and Merari, who went before between the standard of Judah and the standard of Reuben, carrying the heavier and more cumbersome parts of the tabernacle; which, when Judah pitched their tents, at the signal of the cloud, they immediately put together, and erected, and got it ready, by such time as the Kohathites came up to them, that so the ark and other holy things might be at once put into it, and set in their proper places.

And the Kohathites set forward, {h} bearing the sanctuary: and {i} the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.

(h) Upon their shoulders.

(i) The Merarites and Gershonites.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. the sanctuary] But the sacred structure is already in the hands of the Gershonites and Merarites. The required meaning is the holy things, and Ḳôdesh is probably the true reading, as in Numbers 4:15 (see note there).

the other did set up] Heb. has loosely ‘and they [used to] set up,’ which is equivalent to the passive verb ‘and the Tabernacle used to be set up,’ i.e. by the other Levites.

29–33 J . This earlier account of the departure from Sinai relates that Moses asked Ḥobab to be their guide, because he would be well acquainted with the places of encampment en route.Verse 21. - The sanctuary. Rather, "the holy things." הַמִּקְדַּשׁ, equivalent to the קֹדֶשׁ הֲקָּדָשׁים if Numbers 4:4. Septuagint, τὰ ἅγια. The sacred furniture mentioned in chapter Numbers 3:31 (but cf. verse 33). The other did set up the tabernacle. Literally, "they set up," but no doubt it means the Gershonites and Merarites, whose business it was. In vv. 13-28 the removal of the different camps is more fully described, according to the order of march established in ch. 2, the order in which the different sections of the Levites drew out and marched being particularly described in this place alone (cf. Numbers 10:17 and Numbers 10:21 with Numbers 2:17). First of all (lit., "at the beginning") the banner of Judah drew out, with Issachar and Zebulun (Numbers 10:14-16; cf. Numbers 2:3-9). The tabernacle was then taken down, and the Gershonites and Merarites broke up, carrying those portions of its which were assigned to them (Numbers 10:17; cf. Numbers 4:24., and Numbers 4:31.), that they might set up the dwelling at the place to be chosen for the next encampment, before the Kohathites arrived with the sacred things (Numbers 10:21). The banner of Reuben followed next with Simeon and Gad (Numbers 10:18-21; cf. Numbers 2:10-16), and the Kohathites joined them bearing the sacred things (Numbers 10:21). המּקדּשׁ ( equals הקּדשׁ, Numbers 7:9, and הקּדשׁים קדשׁ, Numbers 4:4) signifies the sacred things mentioned in Numbers 3:31. In Numbers 10:21 the subject is the Gershonites and Merarites, who had broken up before with the component parts of the dwelling, and set up the dwelling, עד־בּאם, against their (the Kohathites') arrival, so that they might place the holy things at once within it.
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