Notes on Numbers 10

Blaine Robison, M.A.

Published 22 June 2019; Revised 8 March 2022

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Scripture Text: The Scripture text of this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison based on the Westminster Leningrad Codex found at BibleHub.com. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Hebraic character of the author and writing. Other Bible versions may be quoted. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.

Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:

LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C. Online.

Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 7599 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.

MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.

Talmud: Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. The Jerusalem Talmud, identified with "TJ," may be found here. Click here for Talmud abbreviations.

Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of Targum texts here.

Special Terms: In order to emphasize the Hebraic nature of Scripture I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Tanakh (Old Testament), Besekh (New Testament), Yeshua (Jesus) and Messiah (Christ).

Syntax: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB" and the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009). Parsing information for Hebrew verbs is taken from John Joseph Owens, Analytical Key to the Old Testament (1989). An explanation of Hebrew verbs and grammatical construction can be found at Hebrew4Christians.com.

1 And ADONAI spoke to Moses saying,

ADONAI: Heb. YHVH. See my web article The Blessed Name. Moses: Heb. Mosheh, born about 1525 BC. which is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." For a summary of his life and deeds see my article Moses, Servant of God.

2 Make for yourself two silver trumpets; of hammered work you shall make them. And you shall make use of them for assembling the congregation, for directing the movement of the camps,

Make: Heb aseh, Qal imp., to do or make. for yourself: Heb. l'cha, 2ms-prep. two: Heb. shenayim, a cardinal number, two. silver: Heb. keseph, the precious metal known as silver. trumpets: pl. of Heb. chatsotsrah, ("khats-o-tser-aw") trumpet. The noun occurs 29 times in the Tanakh. Josephus gives this description: "In length it was little less than a cubit. It was composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute, but with so much breadth as was sufficient for admission of the breath of a man's mouth: it ended in the form of a bell" (Ant. III, 12:6). At the time only two were made because Aaron had only two sons who would use them (cf. Num 3:4). In the time of David seven trumpets are mentioned (1Chr 15:24), but in the time of King Solomon 120 trumpets had been made and blown for the dedication of the temple (2Chr 5:12).

The trumpets were taken to Babylon in the exile [2Chr 36:18], but were returned to the land with Ezra by the decree of King Cyrus [Ezra 1:1-11; 3:10; Neh 12:35]. The trumpets were in use at the Temple during the life of Yeshua. Adam Clarke says in his commentary on Exodus 25:31 that after the overthrow of Jerusalem in AD 70 by the Romans, the General Titus had the silver trumpets, along with the golden menorah, the golden table of the shew-bread, and the book of the law, taken out of the temple and carried in triumph to Rome; and Caesar Vespasian lodged them in the temple which he had consecrated to the goddess of Peace.

God first describes a practical function for the trumpets. Two occasions are mentioned in this verse:

(1) calling for assembly at the tent of meeting of the congregation. Scripture has no mentions of the trumpets being used for this purpose, although such assemblies often took place.

(2) signaling the tribes to set out when moving the encampment to a new location in the wilderness, which is furthered detailed in verses 5-6. Scripture has no mentions of the trumpets being used for this purpose, although there are mentions of the camp being moved (verses 11-12 below; cf. Ex 40:36-37; Num 9:17-19; 11:35; 14:25; 20:22; 21:4, 12; Deut 1:19; 2:24; 10:6-7; Josh 3:1).

3 And when they blow both of them and shall gather before you all the congregation at the door of the tent of meeting

tent: Heb. ohel, tent, whether of personal or religious use. of meeting: Heb. moed, appointed time, place, or meeting. The tent of meeting was the sacred tent used in worship of God. The tent of meeting is generally considered synonymous with mishkan, tabernacle (Ex 25:9; Num 1:50), although some consider this a tent that Moses pitched outside the camp, into which he used to enter, and where God spoke with him face to face (cf. Ex 33:7-11; Num 12:5,10; Deut 31:14-15).

4 But if only one they blow then shall gather to you the leaders, the heads of thousands of Israel.

the leaders: pl. of Heb. nasiy, one lifted up, a chief, prince. These could either be the seventy chosen to help rule Israel or tribal chieftains. heads: pl. of Heb. rosh, head or chief. of thousands: pl. of Heb. eleph, a thousand. The noun alludes to the organization of the nation according to the advice of Jethro into groupings of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens (Ex 18:21). The count of the men of fighting age was 600,000 (Num 11:21). Gathering all those mentioned in this verse would be a very large meeting.

5 But when you blow a signal, the camps that are pitched on the east side shall set out.

The layout of the encampment is given Numbers 2. On the east side was the tribes of Judah, Issachar and Zebulun. Beginning on the east side indicate that moving the camp occurred in a counter-clockwise motion, first east, then south, then west and finally north.

6 When you blow a signal the second time, then shall begin their journey, the camps that lie on the south side. A signal they shall blow for them to set out.

On the south side was the tribes of Reuben, Simeon and Gad. On the west side was Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. On the north side was Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. Not mentioned are the Levites who were encamped around the tabernacle (Num 1:53).

7 When gathering the congregation, however, you shall blow without sounding an alarm.

 

8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow the trumpets; and this shall be to you a perpetual statute throughout your generations.

In contrast the shofar which could be blown by anyone, the silver trumpets were only to be blown by priests (cf. Num 31:6).

9 And when you go to war in your land against the enemy who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with the trumpets, and you will be remembered before ADONAI your God, and you will be saved from your enemies.

And when you go: Heb. bo, Qal impf. to war: Heb. milchamah, a battle or warfare; fighting in a military sense. in your land: Heb. erets, land, earth. The land God promised to Abraham. against: Heb. al, prep. the enemy: Heb. tsar, (1) narrow, tight; (2) straits, distress; (3) adversary, foe, which is the meaning here. who oppresses: Heb. tsarar, Qal part., (1) suffer distress; (2) show hostility toward, treat with enmity, vex. you: pl. of Heb. eth. then you shall sound an alarm: Heb. rua, Hiphil perf., 2p-pl., (1) raise a shout, (2) give a blast with a clarion or horn.

with the trumpets: pl. of Heb. chatsotsrah. See verse 2 above. Another practical use of the trumpets is given in this verse, that of sounding an alarm against an enemy force that would attack them. Scripture records the trumpets being used in relation to battle only three times [Num 31:6; 2Chr 13:14; 20:28].

and you will be remembered: Heb. zakar, Niphal perf., to remember, recall, call to mind, usually as affecting present feeling, thought, or action. before: Heb. panim, prep., lit. "faces," presence of a person, having access to a person of rank and receiving favor from that person. ADONAI: Heb. YHVH. See my web article The Blessed Name. your God: Heb. elohim, the plural intensive form of Eloah and the generic word in the Tanakh for the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe. Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in the name. To be remembered by God means for Him to extend His favor and help. and you will be saved: Heb. yasha, Niphal perf., to deliver or save in peril, be placed in freedom, be victorious in battle. from your enemies: pl. of Heb. oyeb, enemy, foe, one who hates you.

10 And in the day of your gladness and in your appointed feasts, and at the beginning of your months, and you shall blow the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings; and they shall be for you a memorial before your God. I am ADONAI your God." (Num 10:9-10 BR)

And in the day: Heb. yom, day, time, year. of your gladness: Heb. simchah, joy, gladness, mirth, i.e. in times of festivity. The trumpets were also blown in celebration when David brought the ark into Jerusalem (1Chr 13:8; 15:24, 28) and when Solomon dedicated the new temple (2Chr 5:12, 13). and in your appointed feasts: pl. of Heb moed, appointed time, place, or meeting. The noun refers to the annual festivals mandated in Leviticus 23, especially the three pilgrim festivals (Deut 16:16). See my web article God's Appointed Times. The religious use was to blow the trumpets on the appointed festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot. Rashi adds that silver trumpets would have been blown on Rosh Hashanah along with the shofars (Num 29). The majority of the mentions of these trumpets in the Tanakh is for the religious use (1Chr 16:1-6; 2Chr 15:14; 29:26, 27; Ezra 3:10; Neh 12:35).

and at the beginning: Heb. rosh, head, beginning, used here of time. of your months: pl. of Heb. chodesh, new moon, month. Israel followed a lunar calendar. The astronomical new moon occurs when the moon is positioned between the earth and sun. The entire illuminated portion of the moon is on the back side of the moon, the half that cannot be seen from earth. On God's calendar each month begins when the first sliver of moon becomes visible after the dark of the moon. Rosh Chodesh was to be commemorated with solemn convocations, family festivities and special sacrifices. The importance of this holiday in ancient times should not be underestimated. The entire calendar was dependent upon these declarations; otherwise, there would be no way of knowing when important holidays, such as Pesach and Sukkot, were supposed to occur.

and you shall blow: Heb. taqa, Qal Conj.-Perf., to thrust, clap, give a blow on an instrument, blast. the trumpets: pl. of Heb. chatsotsrah. See the previous verse. over: Heb. al, prep., upon, above, over. your burnt offerings: pl. of Heb. olah, whole burnt offering, lit. "that which goes up." Instructions for the burnt offering are given in Leviticus 1. The whole animal (whether quadriped or fowl) is entirely consumed and goes up in the flame of the altar to God expressing the ascent of the soul in worship. All of the victim is laid on the altar except the hide and such parts as could not be washed clean. The animal must be a male without blemish. The burnt offering, regardless of the animal, also accomplished atonement (cf. Gen 8:21; Ex 29:41; Lev 1:4, 10; Num 6:11; Ezek 20:41) and served to cleanse the holy place from the pollution of sins.

The sheep, whether lamb or ram, was the principal animal for the obligatory burnt offerings on these occasions:

Daily, morning and evening (Ex 29:38-46; Num 28:3)

Shabbat (Num 28:9)

Rosh Chodesh, 'New Moon' (Num 28:11).

Hag Matzah, 'Feast of Unleavened Bread,' first month, for seven days, Nisan 15-21 (Lev 23:8; Num 28:19, 21).

Reishit Qatsir, 'First Fruits,' first day after Sabbath after Pesach, Passover (Lev 23:12).

Shavuot, 'Feast of Weeks,' Pentecost, 50 days after Pesach; also referred to as Yom HaBikkurim, 'First Fruits' (Lev 23:18-20; Num 28:29).

Yom Teru'ah, 'Feast of Trumpets,' seventh month, Tishri 1-8 (Num 29:1, 17-37).

Yom Kippur, 'Day of Atonement,' seventh month, Tishri 10, Num 29:7-8).

Sukkot, 'Feast of Booths,' seventh month, Tishri 15-21 (Num 29:12-13).

(For a complete explanation of the sacrifices see Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, Hendrickson Pub., 1994; Chap. 5 and Chap. 6.) All the offerings were substitutionary in nature and made it possible for God to dwell in the midst of His people.

and over: Heb. al. the sacrifices: pl. of Heb. zebach, a sacrifice. Zebach is the general name for all sacrifices eaten at feasts. of your peace offerings: pl. of Heb. shelem, a sacrifice for alliance or friendship, peace offering. Instructions for the peace offering are given in Leviticus 3. A peace offering is an offering expressing thanks or gratitude to God for His bounties and mercies. The Hebrew term is related to the word shalom, meaning "peace" or "whole." A representative portion of the offering is burnt on the altar, a portion is given to the priests, and the rest is eaten by the offerer and his family; thus, everyone gets a part of this offering. This category of offerings includes thanksgiving-offerings (in Hebrew, Todah, which was obligatory for survivors of life-threatening crises), free will-offerings, and offerings made after fulfillment of a vow.

and they shall be: Heb. hayah, Qal, Conj.-Perf., to be, to become, come to pass. for you a memorial: Heb. zikkaron (from zakar, to remember), memorial, remembrance, reminder. The festivals and sacrifices were intended to be memorials of the grace God extended to His people in the past. All of these events reveal something of the nature of God and are like acted out parables of God's plan of salvation for mankind and the blessings of the age to come (cf. Col 2:16-17). The trumpet blowing by the priests on the various occasions of the religious calendar called the people to stop what they were doing and consider all of God's acts of deliverance in the past and His grace and atonement in the present. before: Heb. panim. See the previous verse. your God: Heb. Elohim. See the previous verse. I am: Heb. ani, pronoun of the first person. ADONAI: Heb. YHVH. your God: Heb. Elohim. God

Similarly, our mouths function as trumpets and the psalms frequently called upon Israelites to shout for joy [Ps 32:11; 33:3; 35:27; 66:1; 81:1; 98:4, 6; 100:1].

Works Cited

BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.

Edersheim: Alfred Edersheim, Bible History Old Testament (1876-1887), Updated Edition. Hendrickson Publishers, 1995. Also online.

Clarke: Adam Clarke (17621832), Commentary on the Holy Bible. 6 vols. Online.

Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.

Copyright 2019-2022 by Blaine Robison. All rights reserved.