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Between the four great camps and the tabernacle were four smaller camps, consisting of the priests and Levites, under whose immediate care and protection the tabernacle was placed.
On the east side Muses and Aaron encamped, with Aaron's sons, who had the charge of the sanctuary.
On the south side were the Kohathites, a part of the Levites, descended from Kohath, the second son of Levi.
On the west side were the Gershonites, another part of the Levites, descended from Gershon, Levi's eldest son.
On the north side were planted the Merarites, the remaining part of the Levites, who were the descendants of Merari, Levi's youngest son.
A distinct view of this encampment of the Israelites, may be had from the following diagram.
Whole number of Israelites who were able to go forth
vice of the Tabernacle,
On the day when the tabernacle was reared, the descending cloud hung over and covered it; while at evening there was upon it the appearance
of fire until the morning. And this continued to be the case; the cloud covering it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
So long as the cloud covered the tabernacle, the Israelites continued in their encampments, and when it was taken up they proceeded on their journey; stopping when it stopped, and moving forward when it moved.
The signal for moving, immediately after the rising of the cloud, was the blowing of two silver trumpets, which Moses made by the direction of God. At the first warning, the standard of Judah was raised, and the tribes which belonged to it, being marshalled by their leaders, set forward. Then the tabernacle was taken down, which was to be done by the Levites alone; the Gershonites and the Merarites, (two families of that order) having the charge of the wagons which carried the frame work of the tabernacle; the coverings and curtains; the hangings of the door, and of the courtdoor, with the cords, and other appendages; the boards, the bars, the pillars and the sockets; and all that was used in sustaining it when erected.
As soon as these were on their march, the trumpets sounded again, and the three tribes belonging to the standard of Reuben, following it, were in motion. After them came the Kohathites, (the third family of the Levites,) bearing the sanctuary,-including the veil, and the ark of testimony which was covered with it and other coverings; the table of show-bread with its furniture; the candlestick and its appendages; the golden altar ; and the va
rious utensils; all being carefully covered by Aaron and his sons with badgers' skins, or cloths of scarlet and blue. These being regarded as holy, were not put into wagons, but carried by the Kohathites ; and they even were not to touch any of them lest they should die.
At the third blowing of the trumpets, the standard of Ephraim's camp followed next, with the tribes belonging to it; and at its fourth and last sound, the other three tribes, under the standard of Dan, brought up the rear; Moses and Aaron directing and overseeing the whole, while the song of Aaron were employed in blowing the trumpets, and in the other offices properly belonging to them.
At the moment that the ark set forward, Moses exclaimed, in a devout ejaculation; "Rise up, Lord, and let thine enemies be scattered ; and let them that hate thee flee before thee.”
And when it rested,-" Return, O Lord, unto the many
thousands of Israel.” It must have truly been a magnificent spectacle, to see this vast body in motion! The cloud slowly rising from its resting place; the deep-toned notes heard at intervals; the commands of Moses and Aaron controlling the whole; about three millions of persons of all ages, grouped together in their respective families, the parents leading their little ones, and the young assisting the aged, and the domestic animals following in their train; and these families kept together, and arranged, according to their tribes; and these tribes in four grand divisions under their appointed commanders; and the whole mass harmoniously moving onward, as the symbol of the Divine Presence led the way; was a scene in comparison with which the pomp of earthly monarchs, and the martial array of armies that the most powerful heroes have commanded, sink into insignificance !
Happy people, if while following so implicitly the leadings of the Lord in their movements through the wilderness, they had yielded as ready an obedience to his commands in the affections of their hearts, and the conduct of their lives! He would persuade them by the one, to do the other. He would teach them by the safety which they enjoyed under his protection on their march to the earthly Canaan, that to follow his guidance and direction in the whole course of duty, would secure to them a heavenly inheritance of infinitely superior value.
He would teach you, my young friend, the same important truth. Your external conduct may be what is called moral and correct. You may con