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Numbers 2:2 – Unity

28 Iyar 5783 – 19 mei 2023

“The children of Israel shall camp, each man by his banner, with the emblems of their fathers’ houses; they shall camp some distance from the Tent of Meeting” (Numbers 2:2).

This chapter deals with the organization of the camp Israel into their set formations according to their tribal banners. We see from the first verse in the book of Numbers that these instructions were given in the second year following the exodus from Egypt. The question that needs to be asked is why Hashem didn’t transmit this plan immediately after the exodus?

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky provides a very insightful answer to this question.

Any society that is divided up by clans and tribes risks disunity and discord. Under their individual banners, tribes can tend to narrowly focus on their own agendas. Unhealthy rivalries and divisiveness could easily develop between tribes.

However, while each tribe did dwell together under its distinctive banner and with its particular character, they were all situated around the central Mishkan (Tabernacle). This focal point united all of the tribes in a common purpose and destiny.

The Tabernacle was erected on the first day of the first month in the second year after the departure from Egypt (Exodus 40:17). Because it was crucial to have this as the unifying force for the tribes of Israel, the directives concerning the ordering of the camp could only be given after this date.

By Rabbi Michael Skobac

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