The sons of Israel were to camp in groups of three tribes, according to their father’s households, on a designated side of the tent of meeting, with one tribe leading the camp. On the east side was the camp of Judah: the tribes of Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. On the south side was the camp of Rueben: the tribes of Rueben, Simeon, and Gad. On the west side was the camp of Ephraim: the tribes of Ephraim, Manasseh, and Benjamin. On the north side was the camp of Dan: the tribes of Dan, Asher, and Naphtali. When they set out, the camp of Judah goes first, followed by the camp of Rueben, followed by the Levites with the tent of meeting, followed by the camp of Ephraim, and in the rear, the camp of Dan.
The tent of meeting with the Levites attending to it was always at the center of camp life. When they moved, the tent of meeting and the Levites were at the center, protected from frontal attacks and rear attacks. The army of the sons of Israel were six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty able men over the age of twenty. Their job was to protect the tent of meeting, which contained the Arc of the Covenant, with the testimony. The covenant that the Lord made with the sons of Israel was to be considered valuable to the sons of Israel. They were to protect the covenant, like a treasure.
In two parables, Jesus related the kingdom of heaven to that of a treasure, that a man sells all that he has to possess. (Mt. 13:44-46) The sons of Israel were to defend this covenant, written on two stone tablets by the hand of the Lord from all attackers. The new covenant is not in a box, written on stone tablets. The new covenant is at the center of our being, written on the heart. We are to share the new covenant in Christ Jesus with all the nations. Yes, the new covenant is to be protected from perversions, but not held on so tightly that it is not shared. Remember, they can kill the body but cannot kill the soul. (Mt. 10:28)