|CAMP, ENCAMPMENTS |
These terms usually refer to the movements of the Israelites between Egypt and Canaan; and many passages of the Levitical law relate to things done "within" or "without the camp." The whole body of the people consisted of six hundred thousand fighting men, besides women and children, Numbers 1:2; and was disposed into four battalions, so arranged as to enclose the tabernacle in a square, and each under one general standard, Numbers 2:3. The mode in which this vast mass of people was arranged, with the most perfect order and subordination, must excite general surprise. Balaam, standing on the heights of Moab, viewed the imposing spectacle with admiration and awe: "How godly are thy tents, O Jacob! the Lord his God is with him," Numbers 23:1-24:25.
The order appointed for the removal of the hosts of Israel from one encampment to another is detailed in Numbers 9:1-10:36. The names of forty-one encampments are given in Numbers 33:1-56; from the first in Rameses, in the month April, B. C. 1491, to the last on the brink of the Jordan forty years later. See EXODUS, and WANDERINGS.
Travellers in the desert were wont to pitch their tents in the center of a circle formed by their camels and baggage, which served as a barrier against an assault. A similar mode of encamping was practiced by large caravans, and by armies, 1 Samuel 26:5.