After the Israelites left Egypt, the Lord told Moses to take a census of all the men twenty years old and older who were able to serve in the army (1:1-3). The census was to be taken by clan and by family, and one man from each tribe was appointed to count the people in his tribe and then report the number to Moses. The total number of men who were able to serve in Israel's army was 603,550 (1:45-46). The Lord had told Moses not to count the Levites because they were to be responsible for the care of the tabernacle (1:47-53).
We all know that God is not the author of confusion. In chapter 2 the Lord gave Moses and Aaron precise instructions concerning where each tribe was to set up camp. The tabernacle would always be the center of the camp, just as God should always be the center of our lives. The tribes of Judah, Issachar and Zebulun camped east of the tabernacle. The tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad camped on the south side. The tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin camped on the west side. The tribes of Dan, Asher and Naphtali camped on the north side of the tabernacle.
In chapter 3, the Lord told Moses where the three clans of the Levites were to camp and what responsibilities should be assigned to them. The Gershonites camped on the west side of the tabernacle and were responsible for the care of the tabernacle and tent. The Kohathites camped on the south side and were responsible for the care of the ark, the articles of the sanctuary, the altars, the lampstand and the curtain. The Merarites camped on the north side and were responsible to take care of the frames of the tabernacle, all its equipment, and everything related to their use.
Moses, Aaron and Aaron's sons camped to the east of the tabernacle, in front of the Tent of Meeting. They were responsible for the care of the sanctuary on behalf of the Israelites (3:38).
God had planned everything perfectly! He even told Moses the order in which the tribes were to leave the camp. Judah would start out first, and Dan would set out last.
In chapter 9 we are told, "On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire" (9:15). The Israelites didn't need a roadmap to travel. Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.
In chapter 10 the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai. As instructed by the Lord, the tribe of Judah left first. Each tribe left in the order that God had commanded.
In chapter 12 Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses. At once the Lord called Moses, Aaron and Miriam to come out to the Tent of Meeting. God struck Miriam with leprosy, and she was white as snow. Moses prayed that God would heal her. She had to stay outside the camp for seven days, and then she was healed.
In chapter 13 the Lord told Moses to send a spy from each tribe to explore the Promised Land. The names of the spies are listed in verses 4-15. In verse 16 Moses changed one spy's name from Hoshea to Joshua.
In the next lesson we will read the spies' report of what they saw in the Promised Land.
Fill in the blanks on the worksheet and on the "Go to the Word" sheet, and may God bless you as you study His Word.