The Moving of the Camp. B. C. 1490.
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Make thee two trumpets of silver of a whole piece shalt thou make them: that thou mayest use them for the calling of the assembly, and for the journeying of the camps. 3And when they shall blow with them, all the assembly shall assemble themselves to thee at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 4And if they blow but with one trumpet, then the princes, which are heads of the thousands of Israel, shall gather themselves unto thee. 5 When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward. 6 When ye blow an alarm the second time, then the camps that lie on the south side shall take their journey: they shall blow an alarm for their journeys. 7 But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow, but ye shall not sound an alarm. 8 And the sons of Aaron, the priests, shall blow with the trumpets and they shall be to you for an ordinance for ever throughout your generations. 9 And if ye go to war in your land against the enemy that oppresseth you, then ye shall blow an alarm with the trumpets and ye shall be remembered before the LORD your God, and ye shall be saved from your enemies. 10 Also in the day of your gladness, and in your solemn days, and in the beginnings of your months, ye shall blow with the trumpets over your burnt offerings, and over the sacrifices of your peace offerings that they may be to you for a memorial before your God: I am the LORD your God.
We have here directions concerning the public notices that were to be given to the people upon several occasions by sound of trumpet. In a thing of this nature, one would think, Moses needed not to have been taught of God: his own reason might teach him the conveniency of trumpets but the constitution of Israel was to be in every thing divine, and therefore even in this matter, small as it seems. Moses is here directed, 1. About the making of them. They must be made of silver not cast but of beaten work (as some read it), the matter and shape, no doubt, very fit for the purpose. He was now ordered to make but two, because there were but two priests to use them. But in Solomon's time we read of 120 priests sounding with trumpets, 2 Chronicles 5:12. The form of these trumpets is supposed to have been much like ours at this day. 2. Who were to make use of them not any inferior person, but the priests themselves, the sons of Aaron, Numbers 10:8. As great as they were, they must not think it a disparagement to them to be trumpeters in the house of God the meanest office there was honourable. This signified that the Lord's ministers should lift up their voice like a trumpet, to show people their sins (Isaiah 58:1), to call them to Christ, Isaiah 27:13. 3. Upon what occasions the trumpets were to be sounded. (1.) For the calling of assemblies, Numbers 10:2. Thus they are told to blow the trumpet in Zion for the calling of a solemn assembly together, to sanctify a fast, Joel 2:15. Public notice ought to be given of the time and place of religious assemblies for the invitation to the benefit or ordinances is general: whoever will, let him come. wisdom cries in the chief places of concourse. But, that the trumpet might not give an uncertain sound, they are directed, if only the princes and elders were to meet, to blow but one of the trumpets less should serve to call them together, who ought to be examples of forwardness in any thing that is good: but, if the body of the people were to be called together, both the trumpets must be sounded, that they might be heard at the greater distance. In allusion to this, they are said to be blessed that hear the joyful sound (Psalms 89:15), that is, that are invited and called upon to wait upon God in public ordinances, Psalms 122:1. And the general assembly at the great day will be summoned by the sound of the archangel's trumpet, Matthew 24:31. (2.) For the journeying of the camps, to give notice when each squadron must move for no man's voice could reach to give the word of command: soldiers with us that are well disciplined may be exercised by beat of drums. When the trumpets were blown for this purpose, they mustsound an alarm (Numbers 10:5), a broken, quavering, interrupted sound, which was proper to excite and encourage the minds of people in their marches against their enemies whereas a continued equal sound was more proper for the calling of the assembly together (Numbers 10:7): yet when the people were called together to deprecate God's judgments we find an alarm sounded, Joel 2:1. At the first sounding, Judah's squadron marched, at the second Reuben's, at the third Ephraim's, at the fourth Dan's, Numbers 10:5,6. And some think that this was intended to sanctify their marches, for thus were proclaimed by the priests, who were God's mouth to the people, not only the divine orders given them to move, but the divine blessing upon them in all their motions. He that hath ears, let him hear that God is with them of a truth. King Abijah valued himself and his army very much upon this (2 Chronicles 13:12), God himself is with us for our captain and his priests with sounding trumpets. (3.) For the animating and encouraging of their armies, when they went out in battle (Numbers 10:9): "If you go to war, blow with the trumpets, signifying thereby your appeal to heaven for the decision of the controversy, and your prayer to God to give you victory and God will own this his own institution, and you shall be remembered before the Lord your God." God will take notice of this sound of the trumpet, and be engaged to fight their battles, and let all the people take notice of it, and be encouraged to fight his, as David, when he heard a sound of a going upon the tops of the mulberry trees. Not that God needed to be awaked by sound of trumpet any more than Christ needed to be awaked by his disciples in the storm, Matthew 8:25. But where he intends mercy it is his will that we should solicit it ministers must stir up the good soldiers of Jesus Christ to fight manfully against sin, the world, and the devil, by assuring them that Christ is the captain of their salvation, and will tread Satan under their feet. (4.) For the solemnizing of their sacred feasts, Numbers 10:10. One of their feasts was called a memorial of the blowing of trumpets, Leviticus 23:23-25, &c. And it should seem they were thus to grace the solemnity of all their feasts (Psalms 81:3), and their sacrifices (2 Chronicles 29:27), to intimate with what joy and delight they performed their duty to God, and to raise the minds of those that attended the services to a holy triumph in the God they worshipped. And then their performances were for a memorial before God for he takes pleasure in our religious exercises when we take pleasure in them. Holy work should be done with holy joy.