Bamidbar Ten: Trumpets

This chapter opens with the blowing of trumpets. “Make yourself two silver trumpets; you shall make them beaten; they shall be used by you to summon the congregation and to announce the departure of the camps. When they blow on them, the entire congregation shall assemble to you, at the entrance to the tent of meeting (Numbers 10:2-3).” We are told many of the uses for the trumpets, and how they differed in different situations. One blast called princes, and different series of blasts called specific camps. The kohanim were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets in the different situations.

“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 (Numbers 10:9).” This usage of the trumpets strikes me as very powerful. It shows that they were used to not only assemble the people, but to inspire them, serving as reminders and rallying cries in times of war. Somehow, the blasts of the trumpets were reminders of the power of God, and were meant to motivate the people in times of war, and to connect them with God in times of peace and rejoicing.

The people began to travel again, leaving the Sinai desert and going to Paran, following the cloud of God’s presence. We are given the list of each tribe and its leaders, as they move forward in their wanderings. “Then Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’s father-in-law, We are traveling to the place about which the Lord said, I will give it to you. Come with us and we will be good to you, for the Lord has spoken of good fortune for Israel (Numbers 10:29).” Although Moses issues the invitation, it is refused, because Hobab wants to go home to his own land. However, Moses persists, asking him to come because he wanted Hobab to serve as a guide in the wanderings in the desert, due to his familiarity with the wilderness. I’m honestly surprised that this isn’t a bigger story. Most of the time when any doubt is even implied about God’s ability to chart the course on His own, punishment is imminent. However, in this case, Moses thinks they need a guide beyond the cloud of God’s presence, and nothing happens. Does this mean that they did need a guide? Or that God was sympathetic to the instinct of a leader to want an experienced guide on the ground?

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