Numbers 10:5
When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward.
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(5) When ye blow an alarm.—The word teruah, alarm, is supposed to denote a loud and continuous blast, by which the signal for the moving of the camps was distinguished from those which were used for the summoning of the congregation, or of the princes (Numbers 10:7). In the former of these cases some suppose that both trumpets were blown, and in the latter only one (Numbers 10:4 and Note. Comp. Light-foot’s Temple Service, Numbers 7:5; Numbers 7:2.) The fuller directions respecting the order in which the camps were to break up are given in Numbers 2. Here the order of the eastern and southern camps only is prescribed. In the LXX., however, we read thus: “And ye shall sound a third alarm, and the camps pitched by the sea (i.e., westward), shall move forward; and ye shall sound a fourth alarm, and they that encamp toward the north shall move forward; they shall sound an alarm at their departure.”

10:1-10 Here are directions concerning the public notices to be given the people by sound of trumpet. Their laws in every case were to be Divine, therefore, even in this matter Moses is directed. These trumpets typify the preached gospel. It sounds an alarm to sinners, calls them to repent, proclaims liberty to the captives and slaves of Satan, and collects the worshippers of God. It directs and encourages their heavenly journey; stirs them up to combat against the world and sin, encouraging them with the assurance of victory. It leads their attention to the sacrifice of Christ, and shows the Lord's presence for their protection. It is also necessary that the gospel trumpet give a distinct sound, according to the persons addressed, or the end proposed; whether to convince, humble, console, exhort, reprove, or teach. The sounding of the trumpet of the gospel is God's ordinance, and demands the attention of all to whom it is sent.Blow an alarm - i. e. along continuous peal. Compare Numbers 10:7, ye shall blow, but not sound an alarm: i. e. blow in short, sharp notes, not in a continuous peal. A third and a fourth alarm were probably blown as signals. 3-7. when they shall blow with them—There seem to have been signals made by a difference in the loudness and variety in the notes, suited for different occasions, and which the Israelites learned to distinguish. A simple uniform sound by both trumpets summoned a general assembly of the people; the blast of a single trumpet convoked the princes to consult on public affairs; notes of some other kind were made to sound an alarm, whether for journeying or for war. One alarm was the recognized signal for the eastern division of the camp (the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun) to march; two alarms gave the signal for the southern to move; and, though it is not in our present Hebrew text, the Septuagint has, that on three alarms being sounded, those on the west; while on four blasts, those on the north decamped. Thus the greatest order and discipline were established in the Israelitish camp—no military march could be better regulated. To wit, when ye blow once, as appears from Numbers 10:6.

When ye blow an alarm,.... Making a broken, uneven, and quavering sound, which is called a "tara-tan-tara":

then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward; the camps of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun, which lay to the east of the tabernacle, at the front of it; see Numbers 1:3; this was to be the token for their march, which was first of all; Numbers 10:14.

When ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the {b} east parts shall go forward.

(b) That is, the host of Judah and they that are under his ensign.

5. blow an alarm] A signal quite different from the simple ‘blow’ in Numbers 10:3-4. But it is not known in what the difference consisted. Some think that ‘to blow’ means to produce a single long blast, while ‘to blow an alarm’ was to produce several short sharp notes—a ‘fanfare’ (Heb. terû‛âh). But the converse is equally likely.

Verse 5. - When ye blow an alarm. Hebrew, תְּרוּעָה. This seems to signify a continuous peal, easily distinguished, wherever audible, from the blowing in short, sharp tones (Hebrew, תָּקַע) mentioned below, verse 7. The peal of alarm was to be blown - לְמַסְּעֵיהֶם - "for their breaking up" - for that purpose, and no other. The camps. Only those on the east (Judah, with Issachar and Zebulun) and on the south (Reuben, with Simeon and Gad) are here mentioned. It may be that the silver trumpets themselves were carried with the sacred utensils after the southern camps, and that some other means were employed to start the remaining tribes; or it may be that the omission is due to some accidental circumstance. The Septuagint inserts in verse 6, "And ye shall sound a third alarm, and the camps which are pitched westwards shall move; and ye shall sound a fourth alarm, and the camps which are pitched northwards shall move." No doubt this was the actual order of starting, however the signal was given. Numbers 10:5To give the signal for breaking up the camp, they were to blow תּרוּעה, i.e., a noise or alarm. At the first blast the tribes on the east, i.e., those who were encamped in the front of the tabernacle, were to break up; at the second, those who were encamped on the south; and so on in the order prescribed in ch. 2, though this is not expressly mentioned here. The alarm was to be blown למסּעיהם, with regard to their breaking up or marching.
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