On the east side, toward the rising of the sun, those of the standard of the forces with Judah shall camp according to their armies. (Numbers 2:3)
There are probably multiple reasons that the camp led by Judah was situated to the east and thus lead the congregation as it journeyed through the wilderness. First of all, Judah’s name means, “praise,” and it is evident in Scripture that when those who worshiped and praised went before the rest of the column, Israel’s enemies were defeated. Another likely reason is that Judah is the one who carried the scepter, which is to say, the kings of Israel would come from Judah. It is logical, then, that the tribe who would govern the people would lead them through the wilderness.
In that vein of thought, an interesting point is made in relation to Judah’s camp. The tribe of Issachar was situated directly behind the tribe of Judah. Issachar was the tribe noted for producing those who understood the times and instructed the people of Israel in what to do. In other words, Issachar was the tribe that produced Biblical scholars and teachers. That they were positioned next to Judah speaks to the fact that leaders need insight and advice from those who understand God’s principles and laws.
Situated next to Issachar was the tribe of Zebulun, the tribe known for its wealth. Every kingdom needs wealth, of course, but the fact that they were distanced from Judah, behind Issachar, suggests the influence of wealth should not have direct contact with those who lead. Those kind of temptations can be dangerous for a king, especially one called to guide God’s people. And it is not only kings who can be easily swayed by the power of wealth, most human beings can fall under its power.
That is why the Scripture warns about the love of money and how difficult it is for a wealthy person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. It doesn’t say it’s impossible, just difficult, which amplifies the wisdom in having those who will speak the Word of God into the lives of those who have wealth — and for that matter, those who don’t. In short, there is nothing more valuable in life than hearing, understanding and living according to the Word of God. Thus it is written, “The law of Your mouth is better to me than thousands of coins of gold and silver” (Psalm 119:72).
Blessings and Shalom,