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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Numbers 2:3. Judah — This tribe was in the first post, and in their marches led the van, not only because it was the most numerous, but chiefly because Christ, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, was to descend from it: yea, from the loins of Nahshon, who is here appointed the chief captain of it.
Nahshon—or Naasson (Mt 1:4; Lu 3:32, 33).
shall be captain—It appears that the twelve men who were called to superintend the census were also appointed to be the captains of their respective tribes—a dignity which they owed probably to the circumstances, formerly noticed, of their holding the hereditary office of head or "prince."
shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch, throughout their armies; the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, formed one camp, which had its name from the principal tribe Judah; and this was divided into various regiments and companies, called armies, who severally pitched under one and the same standard. It is said (g) Judah's stone was the "nophech" (which we render an emerald), and his flag was coloured in the likeness of the colour of the heavens, and there was formed upon it a lion. Issachar's was the sapphire, and his flag was coloured black, like to black lead, and there were framed upon it the sun and moon, on account of what is said, 1 Chronicles 12:32. Zebulun's was a diamond, and his flag was coloured white, and there was formed upon it a ship, because of what is said, Genesis 49:13,
and Nahshon, the son of Amminadab, shall be captain of the children of Judah; who had been assisting in numbering the people, and who afterwards offered to the dedication of the altar, Numbers 1:2.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. Judah] The most important tribe in each group of three is mentioned first, and the numbers of all the three together are reckoned under its name (Numbers 2:9; Numbers 2:16; Numbers 2:24; Numbers 2:31).Verse 3. - On the east. The van, the post of honour. The general direction indeed of their march was northwards, not eastwards; but nothing can obliterate the natural pre-eminence given to the east by the sunrise, the scattering of light upon the earth, the daily symbol of the day-spring from on high. The standard of the camp of Judah. Judah led the way not because he was the greatest in number, for the order of the tribes was not determined by this consideration, but because of his place in prophecy, and as the ancestor of the Messiah (Genesis 49:10). According to Aben Ezra and other Jewish expositors, the device upon the standard of Judah was a young lion, and this agrees with Revelation 5:5. The same authorities assign to Reuben a man, to Ephraim an ox (cf. Deuteronomy 33:17), to Dan an eagle. If it were so, we should find in these banners the origin of the forms of the living creatures in the visions of Ezekiel and St. John (Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 10:1; Revelation 4:4-6), unless, indeed, the devices on the standards were themselves taken from the symbolic forms of the cherubim in the tabernacle, and these in their turn borrowed from the religious art of Egypt. But the tradition of the Jews is too fluctuating to carry any weight. The Targum of Palestine assigns to Judea the lion, but to Reuben a stag, to Ephraim a young man, and to Dan a basilisk serpent. Exodus 38:21), i.e., of the tabernacle, that they might encamp around it, might take it down when the camp was broken up, and set it up when Israel encamped again, and that no stranger (zar, non-Levite, as in Leviticus 22:10) might come near it and be put to death (see Numbers 3:10). The rest of the tribes were to encamp every man in his place of encampment, and by his banner (see at Numbers 2:2), in their hosts (see Numbers 2), that wrath might not come upon the congregation, viz., through the approach of a stranger. קצף, the wrath of Jehovah, breaking in judgment upon the unholy who approached His sanctuary in opposition to His command (Numbers 8:19; Numbers 18:5, Numbers 18:22). On the expression "keep the charge" (shamar mishmereth), see at Genesis 26:5 and Leviticus 8:35.
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