How these tribes were camped and their names will teach us about the Redemption. There were three tribes camped on the east. There was Issachar (my hiring, servant), Judah (praise) and Zebulon (to dwell). This teaches us that his star was seen in the east before his birth (Num 24.17; Matt 2.1) the Messiah came the first time as a “servant” from the tribe of Judah and “dwelt” among men (John 1.14). The tribes on the west are Benjamin (son of the right hand), Ephraim (fruitful) and Manasseh (to forget). Messiah will come as a “son of the right hand” (Matt 26.64) and his kingdom will be “fruitful” and he will cause us “to forget” the past troubles.
So, if the tribes on the east and west teach about the coming of Messiah, then the tribes on the north and south teach about the False Messiah. The tribes on the north are Asher (to prosper), Dan (to judge) and Naphtali (sweetness drips). The False Messiah will come and “prosper” (Dan 11.36) but fall eventually. Asher is a related word to Asshur, the home of Nimrod. The False Messiah may come from the tribe of Dan according to many scholars, but he will be “judged.” He will be a great orator at first, and “sweet word’s” will drip from his mouth (Dan 7.11, 20). Isa 14.13-14 says that Satan (the power behind the False Messiah) desires to sit in the recesses of the “north” where God sits The tribes on the south are Gad (a troop, related to the word for “invade”), Reuben (see, a son) and Shimon (to hear). The False Messiah will come as a “troop and will invade” Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple. He will proclaim himself the “son” of God (1 Thess 2), but he will be defeated when Yeshua comes, and his followers will “hear” charges at the judgment “south” of Jerusalem at a place called Tophet (Isa 66.24; Matt 25.31-46).
When you take the totals of each side, in four parts, it forms a cross. On the west there were 108,100 people (Num 2.24). This is the shortest side, corresponding to the top of the cross. The tribes on the south were 151, 450, and the tribes on the north were 157, 600. These are the most equal and correspond to the part of the cross where Yeshua’s arms/hands were. The tribes on the east added up to 186,400, the longest side, and corresponded to where the legs went.
They did not camp like a mob like you see in the movies, but it had order and organization. They had to make it easy to go outside the camp to the latrines and to gather wood, etc. So, each side camped long-wise in order to do this. That means they camped in four parts around the Mishkan. In Num 23.10 it says that Balaam said, “Who can count the dust of Jacob or number the fourth part of Israel?” In Num 22.41 it says that Balak took Balaam up to a high mountain and he saw from there “a portion of the people” or the end of the camp. He saw the fourth part of the camp and he couldn’t even count them. What part of the camp was it? Probably the east portion with 186,400 people plus. Remember, these numbers are only the warriors, not everyone.
So, the way they camped was eschatological and the camp formed a cross. If you had a drone and could fly over the camp, you could see it like God did. Israel camped in four corps and twelve divisions. We will also notice that the three tribes that camped together had relationships to each other. The tribes on the east (Judah, Issachar, Zebulon) are sons of Leah. The tribes on the south (Reuben, Shimon, Gad) are Leah’s sons and a son from her maid Zilpah (Gad). The tribes on the west (Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh) are descendants of Rachel. The tribes on the north are Dan, Asher, Naphtali) are the sons of the two maids Bilhah (Dan, Naphtali) and Zilpah (Asher). The duties of the Levites (Gershon, Kohath and Merari) are discussed in Num 3.25-39), so let’s move on to the next portion.
This portion is called “Naso” which means “to elevate” and this alludes to “lifting up the head” to be counted, and this portion covers Num 4.21 to 7.89. The census began in 4.1 with Kohath and it now continues with Gershon and Merari. The Levites were to be 30 years old up to 50 years old. They entered the “service” (tzava meaning warfare) to do the work (melakah) of the tent of meeting (ohel moed). Their duties were seen as spiritual warfare.
This Torah portion is the longest in the Torah (176 verses) and it continues with the duties of the Gerhsonites. It has more commentary that just about any other Torah portion. There will be six different topics discussed and we will do an overview as we have said before.
Why is this portion called “Naso” meaning to lift or elevate? They are “lifting” up the heads of the Levites in order to number them. Why is the word “also” used of Gershom in Num 4.22? They were not to feel left out or less important just because they weren’t carrying the “important stuff” or had the less glamorous jobs. This is also called “Naso” because the Levites were to “lift up” the Mishkan (4.25). There is a lesson here.
The order of God’s people is that those that “lift up” the Mishkan or do the work of the Mishkan should be lifted up by others,too. There has to be cooperation and we are told to “take up one another’s burdens” (Gal 6.2). No problem is insignificant. We may think someone’s problems are meaningless, but that doesn’t make them go away. When we lift up the burdens of another we are like a Levite lifting up the Mishkan of God, because that is what the body of Messiah is.
Num 5.1-10 tells us how to deal with an unclean issue. We are told that it must be dealt with quickly. In a congregation, this may involve a conflict of some sort. We must remember that they are our brothers and sisters, not an enemy. The conflict can be based on a misunderstanding, nothing willful. We must try to treat others the way the Lord treats us. Sin must be “put out” especially if it is unrepentant. What we are going to see in Numbers is that it will deal with the sins of the mouth, and the proper use of speech will be important.
In Part 4 we will pick up in Num 5.11-31 and a ceremony called the Sotah which deals with a woman suspected of adultery. This ceremony could also be related to the birth of Yeshua as we will explain.