BIBLE STUDY SERIES #308, 309 and 310

19 October, 1997

TRIBES ON THE MARCH - PART VII

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram, in Genesis 12, has continued the examination of the succeeding scriptural passages in succession, down to our recent focus in Numbers, chapter 1. Today, I shall once again review briefly the verses which terminate that chapter. We must remember that the new nation of Israel, descendants of Jacob (Israel), is being given their marching orders by The Almighty God in this chapter. They are to move through the Wilderness of Sinai in the formation of a sequence of march which permits encampments to form smoothly into a great square with each tribe except the Tribe of Levi assigned to a segment of perimeter defence.

Indeed, if we read the non-Biblical Book of Jasher, Chapter LVI: 10-13, we can find the account of Jacob's own burial instructions to his sons, in a more detailed parallel passage to that which closes the Book of Genesis. We there learn that Jacob's sons, with the exceptions of Levi and Joseph, were personally to carry his bier up from Egypt to his father's burial place in The Promised Land, using a square formation with each son moving in the same relative position about the coffin as their tribal descendants were later assigned in the national camp, as they were formed about the Tabernacle to make camp in Sinai.

Perhaps I should read that excerpt to give you the picture. In what I would consider a prophetic foreview of this later generation that is, under Moses' direction to emerge from Egypt, it states: "And Jacob again commanded his sons on that day, saying, behold I shall be this day gathered unto my people; carry me up from Egypt, and bury me in the cave of Machpelah as I have commanded you. Howbeit take heed I pray you that none of your sons carry me, only yourselves, and this is the manner you shall do unto me, when you carry my body to go with it to the land of Canaan to bury me. Judah, Issachar and Zebulun shall carry my bier at the eastern side; Reuben, Simeon and Gad at the south, Ephraim, Manasseh and Benjamin at the west, Dan, Asher and Naphtali at the north. Let not Levi carry with you, for he and his sons will carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord with the Israelites in the camp, neither let Joseph my son carry, for as a king so let his glory be; howbeit, Ephraim and Manasseh shall be in their stead."

On a recent programme, I explained the tribal formations which were to occupy the east and the south sides of the great tribal camp in the Wilderness. I shall now review the Biblical passage of Numbers 1, starting at verse 47 in order to refresh the picture in our minds regarding particularly the Tribe of Levi before moving ahead to examine the remaining sides of the square.

47. But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.
48. For the LORD had spoken unto Moses, saying,
49. Only thou shalt not number the tribe of Levi, neither take the sum of them among the children of Israel:
50. But thou shalt appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
51. And when the tabernacle setteth forward, the Levites shall take it down: and when the tabernacle is to be pitched, the Levites shall set it up: and the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death.
52. And the children of Israel shall pitch their tents, every man by his own camp, and every man by his own standard, throughout their hosts.
53. But the Levites shall pitch round about the tabernacle of testimony, that there be no wrath upon the congregation of the children of Israel: and the Levites shall keep the charge of the tabernacle of testimony.
54. And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.

As verse 52 shows us, Ancient Israel used such standards as are here mentioned in verse 52, and bearing in mind the fact that, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation continually aver, the present-day descendants of these same Israelites are, for the most part, the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world, we would suggest that the study of such emblems of heraldry among these people will prove a most fascinating pursuit, especially to these descendants of ancient Israel.

Regarding Simeon and Levi, back in Genesis 34:25 we had found the account of the vicious attack made by Simeon and Levi in defence of the honour of their despoiled full sister, Dinah, by the Prince of Shechem. Their use of the sword on that occasion led Jacob, in Genesis 49:5, to say "Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel."

The matter of Simeon and Levi was not completed on the last study of our Study series, so at this time I might add some further information concerning those two tribes. While Simeon and Levi had both incurred the displeasure of Jacob (Israel) for their rough, indeed murderous, handling of Shechem, and each had, in Genesis 49, consequently been assigned, so to speak, the symbolic banner of a sword with a secondary emblem of a city gate, their descendants differed on the following occasion recorded in Exodus 32 when, at the foot of Mount Sinai, the Tribe of Levi had stood beside their fellow Levite, Moses when many of the remainder of Israel, having grown tired of waiting for Moses to return down from the mountain top with God's Commandments, had begun to worship in riotous celebration the golden calf which they had forced Aaron to create as an idol for the religious focus of their worship. The Levitical tribe had drawn swords and, following Moses' instruction, in Exodus 32:26-28, had cleansed the Israel encampment of such idolatry. Thus had Levi redeemed himself, so to speak, in his descendants. Thus they had served and glorified The Almighty God Who was pleased to call this tribe subsequently to service about His Tabernacle, and Levi's banner was changed to that of an High Priest's Breastplate, bearing the twelve gem-stones with the names of each tribe on that tribe's symbolic stone. Thus did God promote those who served Him on that occasion. This occasion, incidentally, may provide us some assurance in regard to our attitudes concerning His later Salvation promises. If we take the Jasher account as accurate, the banner of Levi may well have previously been already substituted and assigned in the nature of a prophecy.

In the tribal perimeter of the camp thus far explained, Judah, with Issachar and Zebulun occupied the eastern side, and Reuben, with Simeon and Gad occupied the southern side of the square, while Levi had been withdrawn to occupy the centre about the Tabernacle. All these but the Tribe of Gad were the descendants of the sons of Leah herself, while the Tribe of Gad was of the eldest of the two sons born to Leah's handmaid, Zilpah. As the order of battle was assigned by The LORD, Yahweh (Jehovah), it is obvious that God thus assigned those of nearest blood relationship to stand shoulder to shoulder in case of armed conflict by an enemy, in order to insure the least possibility of factional strife and the greatest military strength among the Israelites themselves, a point I would think worthy of careful consideration by immigration authorities today, for doubtless those who desire the fragmenting of present-day Anglo-Celto-Saxon Israel will have sought an opposite policy to weaken their cohesiveness.

So Leah's six sons, with the exception of Levi that was assigned to the central Tabernacle, were to defend the east and south of the camp. As Levi had been removed to the centre, it would be reasonable that Gad, the eldest of Leah's handmaid would replace Levi at the perimeter, becoming thus the most reasonable substitute to take Levi's position next to Reuben, and thus act as a buffer, to separate the Tribe of Reuben, chronologically the eldest, who had been set aside from the birthright in Genesis 49:4 from the Tribes of Joseph's sons to the west, Manasseh and Ephraim which had been substituted in place of Reuben and Simeon as the double-portion birthright inheritors in Genesis 48:5 and 48:22.

We shall not have time to complete the study at this time, so we will postpone the remainder of the study until our next programme. There is much to learn from the clues provided in ancient Scriptures concerning their tribal descendants today, and we will discover more as we proceed. All which we discover tends towards a glorification of God as it shows us that He is ever faithful to those with whom He has made agreement. This provides assurance in regard to Salvation promises, and it is thus, for us, a field of knowledge which brings comfort and a sense of participation in God's ongoing plans. May that thought serve as a point of meditation during the coming week.

26 October, 1997

TRIBES ON THE MARCH - PART VIII

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram, in Genesis 12, has continued the examination of the succeeding scriptural passages in succession, down to our recent focus in Numbers, chapters 1 and 2. Today, I shall once again review briefly the verses of that section. We must remember that the new nation of Israel, descendants of Jacob (Israel), is being given their marching orders by The Almighty God in this Scripture. They are to move through the Wilderness of Sinai in the formation of a sequence of march which permits encampments to form smoothly into a great square with each tribe except the Tribe of Levi assigned to a segment of perimeter defence.

Before we continue around the perimeter of the Camp of Israel as designed by The Almighty God, Yahweh (Jehovah), I might add something which our time would not permit me to insert on the last study. Levi, along with Simeon, had previously been part of the attack on the town of Shechem and had thus received Jacob's disapproval in Genesis 49:5-7, but Levi's descendants had redeemed his honour, so to speak at Sinai when the Tribe of Levi stood with Moses in putting down the idolatrous worship of the golden calf by some of the Israelites. At that time, Moses, you may remember, had thrown down and broken the tablets of The Ten Commandments which had just been given by The Almighty God into his hands. I feel it might be of interest to mention here something in that connection.

When Moses broke the first set of tablets containing The Ten Commandments in Exodus 32:19, on this occasion of Levitical redemption, he followed a legal practice of the day. It was what the ancient Egyptians and Hittites did when a contract had been broken. It was what the later Babylonians would call "breaking the tablet." It was a symbolic act demonstrating that the covenant had been broken with The Almighty by those who served the golden calf. The matter is explained in The Encyclopaedia Judaica, Volume 5, page 1019-1020, item "Covenant." A contract between a suzerain and a subordinate would be written in a treaty document which was laid up in the sanctuary at the feet of the deity. Upon breaking the contract, the record had to be broken also. This explains why the renewal of the covenant relationship had to be effected by writing new tablets in Exodus 34:1, and by the repetition of Exodus 23:10-19 in Exodus 34:17-26, according to that reference.

We had, in a previous study, found that the camp of Israel was to be formed into a defensive square formation by the design of The Almighty, when moving through the hostile territory of the Wilderness of Sinai. We had read Numbers 2:1-13 in examining the tribal distribution on the east and part of the south perimeter of the camp. Today, we pick up the Scriptural account by concluding the list of the tribes on the south side, and continuing around to the western part of the square by starting our reading at Numbers 2:14: Reuben and Simeon had been designated in their positions.

14. Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad shall be Eliasaph the son of Reuel.
15. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty.
16. All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben were an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank.

Inserting the Tribe of Gad between the Tribe of Reuben and that of Manasseh was a suitable move on the part of The Almighty, designed to separate the Tribe of Reuben which had lost the birthright and might harbour some resentment, and the tribes of Joseph who had received that birthright with its double-portion from his father, Jacob (Israel). Also, the Tribe of Simeon is by this disposition separated from that of Joseph's descendants. The Tribe of Simeon, remember, descended of the half-brother who might well, from the evidence provided by his incarceration in Egypt by Joseph in Genesis 42:24, have been the leader of the plot to kill Joseph before being prevailed upon to join with the others in selling him into slavery in Egypt in Genesis 37:20. Simeon, like Levi, was to be fragmented among the other tribes in Israel, but many were later, upon entering The Promised Land, to settle in the south, bordering the area assigned to Judah. Possibly some part may now be found in Spanish areas, perpetuating as a national sport the killing of the symbol of Joseph, the bull.

The tribal symbol on the banner of the Tribe of Gad is a troop of soldiers, which is apparently derived from Genesis 49:19. Numbers 2:16, in stating the numbers in the "camp" of Reuben here adds together the tribal lists of the three tribes which form the southern perimeter, namely, those of Reuben, Simeon and Gad. We continue at verse 17:

17. Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards.
18. On the west side shall be the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim shall be Elishama the son of Ammihud.
19. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were forty thousand and five hundred.
20. And by him shall be the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh shall be Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
21. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and two thousand and two hundred.
22. Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin shall be Abidan the son of Gideoni.
23. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were thirty and five thousand and four hundred.
24. All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim were an hundred thousand and eight thousand and an hundred, throughout their armies. And they shall go forward in the third rank.

Here, we find the three tribes which descend from the two sons of Rachel, namely Joseph (represented by his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, each of which headed a Tribe equating in status to those of their uncles), and the Tribe of Benjamin, the youngest son of Rachel. Rachel died in giving birth to Benjamin, and had, in departing, named him "Benoni", "son of my sorrow", but that name had been set aside by Jacob, who had re-named him "Benjamin", meaning "son of the right hand.", as we may confirm by looking up the name in Young's Concordance. Here, on the west side of the square defencework, as we saw with those on the east and south, we find that The LORD had assigned to stand shoulder to shoulder those tribes which shared the closest blood relationships, being in this instance those which were Rachel's descendants, and full brothers. These were, of course, only half-brothers to those on the east and on the south of the perimeter of the camp.

The symbols seen on the tribal banners flown on the west side of the camp of Israel are the following. Joseph's symbol was that of an ox, or bull. Ephraim, as the birthright inheritor, and thus being accounted the chief of the three tribes descended of Rachel, held aloft the symbol of a bullock, a wild bull, or ox. Manasseh, as it is a part of the descendants of Joseph, may share this symbol, which is now recognised in the form of an unicorn in which the horns are twisted about one another, and appear in profile view in heraldry as a single horn. However, Manasseh may also display the distinctive symbol of a bundle of arrows or a branch as noted in Genesis 49:22-23. Benjamin displayed a wolf, and this designation is found in Genesis 49:27.

As Jacob had assigned care of "The Stone of Israel" in Genesis 49:24, into the hands of Joseph and his descendants, this stone, which we understand to be presently the Coronation Stone in Britain, with its ancient iron rings worn to paper-thinness during transportation over many miles of movement, slung on a pole between descendants of Joseph's tribes would have been carried following the Tabernacle as the camp of Israel moved through the Wilderness of Sinai. It is Bethel, the pillow-stone upon which Jacob rested his head when the visionary promises were given him by The LORD concerning his progeny in Genesis 28:12-15.

We may imagine the camp on the march, with the heat, the dust, the general thirst and dissatisfaction with the monotonous diet of manna; the tribesmen possibly irritated by flies and other insects, and accompanied by the many flocks of thirsty domestic animals. We might suppose that there would be some spaces allowed in order to let the dust settle or drift aside as the thousands moved along following the great towering cloud by day or fire by night, led by The LORD. Vigilance would be required as potential enemies would be ready to rob stragglers. St. Paul, in I Corinthians 10:1-4 described the matter saying that these things were examples for us. There are, then, spiritual symbols to be studied in this ancient process of camp transfer through the wilderness. We may postulate that pasture would have to be found for the numerous domestic animals as they moved, so we might fancy that there would be a slow speed as they travelled along.

On our next study, we shall be looking at those tribes which were assigned to take up their positions on the northern perimeter of the camp. We are gradually approaching the point where we need to begin considering the possible modern benefits to be derived from this study. There were aged people and children, those who had no family and those who had numerous children, those who had skills as artisans and others whose whole lives were concerned with animal husbandry. There were priests and those who were rebellious in temperament against Moses' authority. All, however, benefited by the guidance of The LORD as they were moved from time to time and from place to place, in accordance with the wisdom of The Almighty and the orders transferred to the whole nation by Moses. May these considerations offer food for meditation for yourself this week.

2 November, 1997

TRIBES ON THE MARCH - PART IX

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our ongoing series of Bible Studies, which began several years ago with the Call of The Almighty God to Abram, in Genesis 12, has continued the examination of the succeeding scriptural passages in succession, down to our recent focus in Numbers, chapter 2. Today, we ought to be moving along to see the dispositions which The Almighty God assigned to the defence of the northern side of the great square encampment of Israel in the wilderness. However first, I ought to deal with one or two further aspects concerning Gad, one of the tribes which was at the western end of the south side of the Israel camp, and the tribes descended from Rachel, namely those of Joseph and Benjamin, which formed up along the western side.

Gad, it seems, is probably well represented in a number of the Northern Regions of Italy, centering on the area which has been called Padania. There are marks of affinity among the peoples of those regions with other similarly placed populations within Anglo-Saxon and Celtic Europe, and this is brought forward by the October, 1997 issue of Kingdom Digest, from First Covenant Church in Irving, Texas, quoting an excerpt from The Bible Educator of Santa Maria, California. There is more in the article than we can cover at this time, so if you are interested, you might obtain a copy of the article from that source. Incidentally, to the insignia of a troop of armed men, we might add the insignia betokened by these words of Moses in Deuteronomy 33:20-21: "And of Gad he said, Blessed be he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head. And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel." Thus, Gad is one of several tribes which may use the lion as a symbol.

Regarding those on the western side of the camp, you will, perhaps, remember that back in Genesis 48, Jacob had blessed the two sons of Joseph, Manasseh and Ephraim and, in imparting to each of these sons a status of equality with their uncles as heads of their own tribes in Israel, Jacob had, in fact, granted Joseph the blessings of the double portion of the firstborn in place of Reuben and Simeon, the elder sons, each of whom had displeased their father. In substituting Joseph's sons as inheritors of that blessing, Jacob had crossed his hands, thus laying the primary blessing of the right hand upon the younger son, Ephraim. It is well to review what was stated at that time. We will read Genesis 48:

14. And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn.
15. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day,
16. The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
17. And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head.
18. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
19. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
20. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

Here we ought to note carefully what was prophesied, for it will give us an immensely important clue to the present-day identification of the descendants of Ephraim, and those of Manasseh. They are brothers. They both inherit the blessings devolving upon their father Joseph, but the blessings upon each son are distinct. Nor are these blessings to be assumed by the rest of the tribes for the simple fact is that they are here genealogically sorted out by Jacob right down the centuries into these latter days. Ephraim receives the chief blessing of the right hand. We must clearly difference the two. Manasseh, the eldest, will, of his own loins, become a single great people. Ephraim, the youngest, on the other hand, will, of his own loins, emerge in the last days as a company or commonwealth of nations. They are not to be confused. These descendants of each brother are distinct entities. Ephraim's descendants are not merged together with the offspring of Manasseh, nor with the descendants of any of the other sons of Jacob. In the latter days, each tribe will be recognizably distinct, for the blessings differ upon each, a fact which would be impossible to discern if all Israelites were to become a single entity. It is true that, as the last part of the quotation expresses it, "In thee (Ephraim and Manasseh) shall Israel bless. Thus, the Northern House of Israel in a later century would be called "Ephraim" on occasion. This does not mean, however, that the distinct tribal lines of descent had been blurred. Even the speech of Ephraim's descendants in Judges 12:6, like that of the London cockney today, was to give the other tribes a means of distinguishing and slaying those of Ephraim who tried to flee at the crossing of the ford.

Who, then, represent Ephraim's descendants today? Who are Manasseh? The blessings indicate that these will both be nations clearly found among the chief nations of the world. The emergence of Ephraim after the times of punishment while the succession of Babylonian kingdoms reigned must follow that of Manasseh. We can locate but one Commonwealth of nations which fills this description, that of the British, which developed after the parting of the. U.S.A.. The U.S.A. was formed in 1776-1787, before the United Kingdom became a national entity in 1800, and before the emergence of the daughter nations of the British Commonwealth recognized in the statute of Westminster in 1931. thus, the U.S.A. must be found as the modern day expression of the prophesied development of Manasseh, the elder brother. There exists but one great brother national entity which emerged after the U.S.A., namely the United Kingdom which, in its formation, is indeed a Commonwealth of related nations. Canada dates from 1867, becoming the First Dominion. Australia, New Zealand, and representative British parts of South Africa date as parts of The Commonwealth from still later years. Can we not sense that these alone fill the picture as descendants of Ephraim today? Incidentally, that same issue of The Kingdom Digest contains another article which treats of this matter also.

Now, in our remaining time today, I might move along to the northern perimeter of the Israel camp in the wilderness. We must remember that the new nation of Israel, composed of the descendants of Jacob (Israel), is being given their marching orders by The Almighty God in this chapter. They are to move through the Wilderness of Sinai in the formation of a sequence of march which permits these thousands of individuals together with their domestic animals, to form smoothly into a great square encampment with each tribe except the Tribe of Levi assigned to a segment of perimeter defence. We had described three sides of that square formation in our recent studies, and today, we will look at the fourth side of the square, that which completes the formation.

We will read, for today's consideration a portion only of the Scripture passage which describes this northern perimeter, and leave more of that section for the next study. We are taking our reading, then, from Numbers 2:25-26:

25 The standard of the camp of Dan shall be on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan shall be Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
26. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, were threescore and two thousand and seven hundred.

The official heraldry or insignia of The Tribe of Dan was given recognition in the words of Jacob (Israel) back in Genesis 49 in these words, taken from verses 16-17: "Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for thy salvation, O LORD." Here, the Tribe of Dan is seen to hold the insignia of the Serpent. However, when Dan is grouped with the other two tribes in his segment of the general square tribal perimeter, he raises an eagle. Also, because Moses, in Deuteronomy gave further words about the Tribe of Dan, we might quote the passage taken from Deuteronomy 33:22: "And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion's whelp: he shall leap from Bashan." and thus a lion insignia can be found for this tribe also, in later times. We will have more to say about this tribe on our next study in this series.

As I said on the last study, ancient Israel used such standards as are here mentioned in this verse, and bearing in mind the fact that, as we of the British-Israel-World Federation continually aver, the present-day descendants of these same Israelites are, for the most part, the Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples of the world, we would suggest that the study of such emblems of heraldry among these people will prove a most fascinating pursuit, especially to these descendants of ancient Israel

Next week, I want to say something about Remembrance Day, and those who demean its value.

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