From Slaves to Soldiers

Chapter 10

Yahweh instructed Moses to make two bugles of hammered silver for calling the congregation together and giving marching orders to the camps. They were to call the whole community to the Tent of Meeting.

Dennis McCorkle says that the silver trumpets were like the shofar in the way they were formed. He says that they had the same function too. Like the shofar they produced, one primary tone. In the context of the Scriptures, the silver trumpets were never considered musical instruments like the translated word for trumpet might imply to the reader today. From the various Scriptural and historical texts relating to them, the silver trumpets would take the place of many of the traditional purposes held by the shofar within the community and would serve as their means of communicating specific community-wide information to the masses. The initial two functions specifically mentioned were the calling of assembly and the breaking of camp. The tekiah was a short blast, and the teruah was a series of rapid, staccato blasts. The bugle has a darker and mellower tone than a trumpet. The tekiah signaled the various families surrounding the Tabernacle to break camp. The silver trumpets were used to call various segments of the community to assemble with Moses at the entrance to the Dwelling. In order to distinguish between the two types of instructions, the tekiah of a single, silver trumpet would signal the family heads to assemble at the entrance of the Dwelling with Moses. If both trumpets sounded, then the whole community was to gather at the entrance to the Dwelling with Moses[1]. Josephus Flavius said, “Moreover, Moses was the inventor of the form of their trumpet, which was made of silver. Its description is this: – In length it was little less than a cubit. It was composed of a narrow tube, somewhat thicker than a flute, but with so much breadth as was sufficient for admission of the breath of a man’s mouth: it ended in the form of a bell, like common trumpets. Its sound was called in the Hebrew tongue ‘asosra.’[2] [3]

Yahweh gave Moses instructions for using the bugle. He said a single, short blast was to call the leaders to assemble. A long blast was the signal to march. At the first blast the tribes who were camped on the east were to set out. At the second blast the camps on the south were to set out. The long blasts were the signals to march. The bugle call that gathered the assembly was different from the signal to march.

“A natural trumpet or bugle, then, can theoretically play any and all of the tones that are at integer multiples of the lowest frequency with which its tube is capable of resonating.”[4]

The sons of Aaron, the priests, were in charge of blowing the bugles; it was to be their perpetual assigned duty.

Yahweh instructed Moses that when Israel went to war against an aggressor, the priests were to blow a long blast on the bugle so that he, their God, would notice and deliver them from their enemies. “If you go to war in your land against an adversary that oppresses you, you shall blow a teruah with the trumpets and be remembered before the Lord your God, and thus be saved from your enemies.”[5]

Yahweh also instructed Moses that at times of celebration, at the appointed feasts and New Moon festivals, the priests were to blow the bugles over their Whole-Burnt-Offerings and Peace-Offerings to draw attention to him. Then he reminded Moses again that he is the great I AM, Yahweh, reality behind all reality and that he was their God.

A little over a month after Israel had celebrated their second year Passover the Cloud lifted from over the tabernacle and the nation of Israel set out from the Wilderness of Sinai. David Guzik of Enduring Word Commentary[6] imagines that a huge sense of excitement flowed through the people. Up to the time of this departure their journey had been from Egypt and slavery. When they left the Wilderness of Sinai they were to travel to Canaan and liberty as an organized and prepared nation. They begin their march at the command of Yahweh through Moses and they marched until the cloud settled in the Wilderness of Paran.

The flag of the tribe of Judah led the way, according to the plan, under the command of Nanshan son of Amminadab. The tribes of Issachar and Zebulun followed led by Nethanel son of Zuar. Eliab son of Helon commanded the forces of the tribe of Zebulun. As soon as The Dwelling was taken down, the Gershonites and the Merarites set out, carrying The Dwelling. The narrator mentioned the names of the leaders of each contingent of the tribes. The flags of Rueben, Simeon, and Gad followed. Then the Kohathites left, carrying the holy things and by the time they arrived The Dwelling would be set up.

The flag of the tribe of Ephraim moved out next, then Manasseh and Benjamin. Finally, under the flag of the tribe of Dan, the rear guard of all the camps marched out along with the tribe of Asher and Naphtali.

Moses wanted his brother-in-law to go with them to the Promised Land. His brother-in-law, Hobab, said no but Moses argued that they needed him. He said, “Don’t leave us. You know all the best places to camp in the wilderness. We need your eyes. If you come with us, we’ll make sure that you share in all the good things Yahweh will do for us.”

The narrator reported that Israel departed – on a 3 day journey – with the Chest of the Covenant of Yahweh out front to scout out a campsite. The cloud of Yahweh was above them by day when they marched from the Mountain of Yahweh with the Chest leading the way, Moses would say, “Get up, Yahweh! Put down your enemies! Chase those who hate you to the hills!” When the Chest was set down, Moses would say, “Rest with us, Yahweh. Stay with the many, many thousands of Israel.”

Many years ago I went through Basic Training. One of the things that taught us to work together as a unit was our daily march. We learned self-discipline by stepping in time together. There was satisfaction in coming together within a company, working hard in conjunction with and alongside a troop. The shared experience of the march builds relationships. When people march together they have to sacrifice walking to their own drummer so they can walk with the unit. A person has to learn to rely on the others they are marching with not to leave the designed path. A person has to respect the rights of and trust those he or she is marching with. Above all else the marcher has to obey the orders of the leader without question. The regiment of the march would teach the nation of Israel to live in community.

“Communities are important because they allow people to interact with each other, share experiences, develop valued relationships and work toward a common goal. Without communities, people would have to live isolated lives with minimal or no contact outside of their immediate circle.”[7]

Living in Community helps people meet their basic needs but requires purpose, practice, power, and proficiency. People who are committed to living together in community[8] rise to the challenges of individual personalities, abilities, and talents.

Life in this fallen world is hard. Preparation and change are hard. It’s easy to get discouraged and feel overwhelmed. It’s easy to be self-absorbed. Yahweh designed us to live with others in a community of love. This love isn’t about liking people. It isn’t about romantic affection. It’s something more than cultural niceness. It’s deeper than being respectful or mannerly.[9]

After the 2017 presidential elections here in the United States of America, Pastor Richmond B. Stoakes wrote a sermon expressing his disappointment in the condition of the characters of both candidates and how their flawed morality and ethics pointed to the “many long standing and festering wounds that have been ignored for too long. The wounds are not the result of one political party or another. They are the result of ignoring our founding father’s intent … It is everyone’s fault and goes back many years. The Eagle[10] has been sapped of its character, of its ethos for many years now. It is no longer soaring, but it is still flying, and it is screaming for restoration of everything for which it stands, one nation under God. … The answer will be crucially important. Micah 6: reads: He has shown you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God? Are each of us doing so? As a nation, are we governing and treating all our diverse peoples justly, with mercy, and are we walking humbly with God? If individuals do not do so, then neither will a nation.” Yahweh wanted his people to learn to walk in unity under his direction so they could be a light to direct others to him,


Summary of chapter 10

Moses was commanded to make two silver bugles for calling the assembly, to the door of the tabernacle, and to summon the princes and captains of the thousands of Israel. The bugles would be blown to tell the eastern camps to strike their tents, to make those on the south do the like. The bugle call for the congregation to be assembled was different. The sons of Aaron were to sound the bugles as a perpetual ordinance. The trumpets were to be sounded in the time of war, and on festival occasions. On the twentieth day of the second month, in the second year, the Israelites began their journey from the wilderness of Sinai, and came to the wilderness of Paran. By the commandment of Yahweh to Moses the first division, preceded by the standard of Judah marched. The tribe of Issachar followed, and after them the tribe of Zebulun. Then the Gershonites and Merarites marched with the tabernacle. At the head of the second division was the standard and camp of Reuben, and under him were the flags of Simeon, and Gad. The Kohathites followed bearing the sanctuary. Then the third division followed with the standards of the camps of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. At the head of the fourth division was the standard of the camp of Dan, followed by the flags of Asher, and Naphtali. This was their ordinary method of marching in the wilderness. Moses beseeched Hobab the Midianite to accompany them through the wilderness, and when he refused Moses continued his entreaties, and strengthened with reasoning and promises. Israel departed from Sinai three days’ journey. The cloud accompanied them by day and looked like fire at night. The words used by Moses when the ark set forward, “Get up, Yahweh and put down your enemies! Chase those who hate you to the hills!” and when it rested, “Rest with us, Yahweh, stay with the many, many thousands of Israel.”


Prayer: Lord, please help me to start each day by dealing with justice. You commanded that your people rescue victims from their exploiters, and attend to matters of fairness. You told us to set things right between people and rescue victims from their exploiters. You commanded that we not take advantage of the homeless, the orphans, or the widows. You demanded that we humans stop the murdering because you want justice—oceans of it. You want fairness—rivers of it. You said that’s what you want; all you want. I pray that my love will flourish and that I will not only love much but well. Teach me to love appropriately. I know that I must use my head and test my feelings so that my love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. I want to live a lover’s life, circumspect and exemplary, a life you will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Yeshua ha Mashiach attractive to all, getting everyone involved in your glory and praise.[11]



Things to think about

  1. What do Yahweh’s instructions for the silver bugles tell you about your God’s character?
  2. Why do you think Yahweh instructed Moses to make the bugles out of hammered silver? [12]
  3. What was the most important use of the bugle?
  4. Why is the order in which Israel marched important?
  5. Why do you think the narrator mentioned the date of Israel’s march from the Wilderness of Sinai?
  6. Why do you think it is important to learn to live in community?

7 What do you see as the most important thing about living in harmony with the people around you?



[1] JOS Antiquities of the Jews 3:292-294.

[2] Josephus Flavius. Antiquities of the Jews; III.2.6, translated by Whiston, William, 1773.






[8] Anthony Freda, CHA, Making the Best, even Better, I believe that a community is founded in the mutual interests shared and supported by the individuals within it. Communities work towards common outcomes and respect the contributions of those who belong.


[10] The American Symbol

[11] From Philippians 1:9-11

[12] Silver is a symbol of redemption

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