Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
11. And it came to pass on the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, that the cloud was taken up from off the tabernacle of the testimony.
11. Fuit autem anno secundo, mense secundo, vicesima mensis, ascendit nubes a tabernaculo testimonii.
12. And the children of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the cloud rested in the wilderness of Paran.
12. Tunc profecti sunt filii Israel per profectiones suas e deserto Sinai, substititque nubes in deserto Paran.
13. And they first took their journey, according to the commandment of the Lord by the hand of Moses.
13. Profecti itaque sunt primum ad os Jehovae per manum Mosis.
14. In the first place went the standard of the camp of the children of Judah, according to their armies: and over his host was Nahshon the son of Amminadab.
14. Et profectum est vexilium castrorum filiorum Jehuda primo loco per exercitus suos: et super exercitum ejus erat Nahason filius Amminadab.
15. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Issachar was Nethaneel the son of Zuar.
15. Super exercitum autem tribus filiorum Issachar erat Nethanel filius Suar.
16. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Zebuluu was Eliab the son of Helon.
16. Et super exercitum tribus filiorum Zabulon erat Eliab filius Helon.
17. And the tabernacle was taken down; and the sons of Gershon and the sons of Merari set forward, bearing the tabernacle.
17. Depositum autem fuerat tabernaculum: et profecti sunt filii Gerson et filii Merari portantes illum.
18. And the standard of the camp of Reuben set forward, according to their armies: and over his host was Elizur the son of Shedeur.
18. Deinde profectum est vexillum castrorum Ruben per exercitus suos: et super exercitum ejus erat Elisur filius Sedeur.
19. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Simeon, was Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai.
19. Super exercitum vero tribus filiorum Simeon erat Selumiel filius Surisaddai.
20. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Gad was Eliasaph the son of Denel.
20. Et super exercitum tribus filiorum Gad erat Eliasaph filius Deuel.
21. And the Kohathites set forward, bearing the sanctuary; and the other did set up the tabernacle against they came.
21. Et progredi eccperunt Cehathitae portantes sanctuarium: erexerunt autem tabernaculum donec venerint ipsi.
22. And the standard of the camp of the children of Ephraim set forward, according to their armies: and over his host was Elishmna the son of Ammihud.
22. Postea profectum est vexilium castrorum filiorum Ephraim per exercitus suos: et super exercitum ejus erat Elisama filius Ammihud.
23. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Manasseh was Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur.
23. Super exercitum vero tribus filiorum Manasse erat Gamliel filius Pedahsur.
24. And over the host of the tribe the children of Benjamin was Abidan the son of Gideoni.
24. Et super exercitum tribus filiorum Benjamin erat Abidan filius Gidoni.
25. And the standard of the camp of the children of Dan set forward, which was the rere-ward of all the camps throughout their hosts: and over his host was Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai.
25. Profectum est insuper vexillum castrorum filiorum Dan, recolligens onmia castra per exercitus suos: et, super exercitum ejus erat Ahiezer filius Ammisaddai.
26. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Asher was Pagiel the son of Ocran.
26. Super exercitum tribus filiorum Aser erat Pagiel filius Ochran.
27. And over the host of the tribe of the children of Naphtali was Ahira the son of Enan.
27. Et super exercitum tribus filiorum Nephthali erat Ahira filius Enan.
28. Thus were the journeyings of the children of Israel, according to their armies, when they set forward.
28. Istm sunt profectiones filiorum Israel per exercitus suos: ac ita profecti sunt.
11. And it came to pass on the twentieth day Moses records that after leaving Mount Sinai, the camp was first pitched in the wilderness of Paran; and although the distance was not great, — being, as we shall soon see, a three days’ journey, — still the fatigue was sufficient to harass and weary the people. It is mentioned in praise of their obedience that they were expeditious in setting forth “according to the commandment of God;” but presently, through failure of the spirit of perseverance, their levity and inconstancy betrayed itself.
When it is said that “they journeyed by their journeyings,” (profectos esse per suas profectiones,) it refers to their whole progress through the desert. As to the word, I know not why Jerome translated it turmas, (troops,) for its root; is the verb נסע nasang, which is used with it; and according to its constant use in Scripture, it plainly means stations, 427 or halting-places. We say in Frealch journees, or gistes.
14. In the first place went the standard of the camp The actual order of march is here described. The whole people, with the exception of the Levites, is divided into four hosts, or parts, since four of the tribes were set over the others, so as to have two under the command of each. And this was the mode of proceeding, that whenever they halted anywhere, the four standards encompassed the sanctuary and the Ark of the Covenant from the four quarters of the world; whilst on the march, the Levites carrying the tabernacle, according to the burdens respectively imposed upon them, were mixed with the several bands. The Ark, borne upon the shoulders of the Levites, preceded the whole army, in order that all might more confidently follow, God thus manifestly shewing them the way. Nahshon, of the tribe of Judah, led the first host; Elizur, of the tribe of Reuben, the second; Elishama, of the tribe of Ephraim, the third; and Ahiezer, of the tribe of Dan, the fourth. It is obvious that in the precedency given to the tribe of Judah, God in some degree afforded an anticipation of the prophecy of Jacob; for the Reubenites, being descended from the first-born, would not have willingly abandoned their position, unless that right had been transferred to the tribe of Judah by God’s decree, pronounced through the mouth of Jacob. Not that the sovereignty and royal power was actually his before the time of David, but because God would have a single spark to shine in the midst of the thick darkness, whereby He might cherish the hope of the promised salvation in every heart; and that thus the dignity of this tribe might at length more readily reduce all to obedience. Herein, however, it appeared how perverse and intractable was the spirit of that greater portion of them who strove against the divine decree in their rejection of David.
Reuben occupied the second place, as an alleviation of his disgrace. Again, by the subjection of the tribe of Manasseh to the posterity of Ephraim, in this respect, too, the prophecy of the same patriarch was fulfilled. Nor does there seem to be any other reason why the fourth standard should have been given to the tribe of Dan, except because Jacob had declared, “Dan shall judge his people.” (Ge 49:16,) by which expression his pre-eminence was denoted.
Although it may be that the four standard-bearing tribes were chosen from their strength and the numbers of their people, still, unless the children of Reuben and Manasseh had been thoroughly persuaded that their degradation was in accordance with the command of God, their jealousy would never have suffered them calmly to submit themselves to others, whose superiors they were by the ordinary rules of nature. Their self-restraint, therefore, was praiseworthy, in that voluntary subjection kept them within bounds, without the application of any power of compulsion; and at the end, Moses records that it was not once only that they thus advanced, but that they observed the same order and regulations during the whole course of their travel, and that their camp was always so arranged that no contention arose to disturb them.
“Stationibus, vel auspiciis;” the latter being evidently a misprint for hospitiis. — Lat. “Gistum, hospitium, susceptio; Gall, giste; jus, quod dominis feudalibus competebat in vassallorum suorum praediis, qui staffs ae condietis vicibus eos in domibus suis hospitio, et conviviis excipere tenebantur. Quod quidem jus Mansionaticum sub prima et secunda Regum Francorum stirpe, sub tertia vero Gistum, Procuratio, Coenaticum, Comestio, Pastus, Prandium dictum suis locis observamus.” — Adelung’s Du Cange.