Monday, September 15, 2014

Numbers: Chapter 2

Eternal cycle
of part and whole

to encamp 
 and to move 

Opposed and surround

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter continues directly from the last, with a shared focus on "father's house" "family" "counting/appointing" (p'k'd), "prince/raised one" (n's'o), and "army". Here, the focus on counting/appointing expands outwards, in a continual point counter-point "travel" and "encamp". Who travels first? Who sets up the encampment? Each sections opens with a repeated use of the root encamp (h'n'a), and closes with a description of travel (s'a'a).
Reverberating in the background of the "fathers" are the unmentioned mothers: the encampment is set up according to the matriarchs. The ones to travel "first" are the children of Leah's triumph, Judah ("this time I will praise God"), Issachar ("reward"), and Zebulun ("fertility" "fecundity"). Those who travel "second" are Leah's older children, who embody her struggle with her sister, Reuben ("God has seen my pain"), Simeon ("God has heard that I am hated") and Gad ("betrayal"--the first child of Leah's maidservant). Those who travel "third" are the displaced Rachel's children. "Last" are the  children of the maidservants, 
The only one to avoid these groupings is Levi, again aligned only with the Dwelling. He travels within his brothers, but apart. They oppose (neged)/surround (savuv) him. 
After enumerating the separations and subliminal tensions, the chapter closes by enumerating the entire encampment ("all were numbered according to their hosts'), bringing together the sub-alliances into a single whole]

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