Day 53: The Twelve Tribes of Israel

Numbers 2:1-34 The tribes of Israel traveled and camped through the desert with three tribes occupying each of the four sides surrounding the tabernacle. The Levites would camp close to the tabernacle to oversee its upkeep and to lead the people in worship. Technically, there were THIRTEEN tribes, but only twelve would receive territory in the Promised Land; the Tribe of Joseph had been split into two tribes (because remember, before he died Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh instead of Joseph) which were named for his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. (CCC 1539-1541)

Deuteronomy 2:8-23 The Moabites and the Ammonites were descendents of LOT (remember how THAT happened? His daughters got him drunk,he passed out, and they raped him) Little is known about some of the other peoples mentioned, for example, Rephaites, Horites, Avvim, Caphtorim.

Psalm 85 The Babylonians under King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Jerusalem, razed the Temple, and exiled a significant portion of the population of Judah to Babylon in 587 B.C.; some sixty years later, the Persians conquered Babylon and allowed the people of Israel to return to their homes in the Promised Land. This psalm makes reference to the “return” of the people of Israel from this exile, but the Hebrew term also had a spiritual meaning: CONVERSION. Many Jews regarded the exile as a punishment for their infidelities and, likewise, saw their return as a fruit of their repentance. God had forgiven their transgressions. 

Mercy and faithfulness...righteousness and peace: These are two characteristics of God that are revealed in his every work.

Faithfulness from heaven: This prophetic utterance refers to the redemption of the world gained through the Death and Resurrection of Christ. The gates of Heaven, which were closed due to the Fall of Adam and Eve, were opened by the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the Son of God, who had assumed our human nature in his Incarnation. By his Resurrection he conquered sin and death and opened the pathway to eternal life. (CCC 214, 2795)

(*Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through the Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

What is FREEDOM? 

Freedom is not what you may think it is. 

“Freedom is not primarily a choice, but rather the shaping of desire so as to make the achievement of the GOOD first possible, then effortless”

 - Bishop Robert Barron

And THAT is what God is training the Israelites towards

Prayer by Fr Mike: “Father in Heaven, we thank you. We thank you for your Word. We thank you for trusting us, and entrusting your Word to us. We thank you for sharing who you are. We thank you for sharing that you are faithful to your promises, that you are faithful to your people. And we thank you for giving us the opportunity today to come into contact with you through the power of your Word Proclaimed. And we thank you in the midst of confusion. We thank you in the midst of not being inspired. We thank you or we thank you in the midst of clarity and in the midst of being illuminated and inspired and moved forward by your Grace and your Spirit. Because, Lord God, whenever your Word is proclaimed, whenever it is read or heard, we know that you are present. And we know that you are telling us something, you are revealing something of your heart to us. And you are revealing something of our hearts to ourselves. So, Lord God, where there is confusion, give us clarity. Where there is dullness, give us inspiration. Where there is a lack of zeal, give us a great joy and a love for you this day and everyday, Lord God. We ask this of you in the mighty name of your son, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.”


Numbers 2 lays out the encampment of the tribes and their populations.  Here are two possible layout of the encampment.  At first I favored the left graphic because it didn't seem practicle to camp further away from the tabernacle when they could divide and camop around it.  But then I realized the one on the right actually does make a lot of practical when considering all the tribes needed land near their camps to keep their livestock, and would provide space without their livestock surrounding the camp to roam off.  Of course, if the right side is the historically accurate layout, how awesome that the encampment forms the shape of the cross!

Judah, the name meaning "praise, thanksgiving"- tied to the tribe of Judah going first out of the camp- "Give Thanks and Praise to God First"- ties to Jesus and the Eucharist (also means "thanksgiving") which he instituted at the Last Supper.

A chart showing the peoples God instructed Israel not to take land from, and which relatives they each descend from. The Amorhites, who God said to take possession of their land, did not come from relatives of Abraham.