Encampment and Movement of the Twelve Tribes in the Wilderness
They only moved when the Pillar moved and they followed wherever it went. Nu.9:15-23
God commanded Moses at Mount Sinai to take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ houses; counting every male from twenty years old and above who was fit for service in God’s army.
The children of Israel organized themselves according to the tribes that descended from the original twelve sons of Jacob. Each tribe designated one leader who was the head of his father’s house. The tribe of Levi was set apart (without the designated land inheritance of all the other tribes) unto the service of GOD to care for, protect and transport everything pertaining to the Tabernacle from camp to camp. Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph, were to receive their father’s inheritance, and so, their names appear among the tribes of Israel, instead of the name of Joseph.
Movement and encampment in the wilderness was highly organized like a military organization. Each of the twelve tribes were assigned specific places and responsibilities in the camp and on the march. Each side of the Tabernacle was protected in camp by three tribes who encamped and marched together like a military division. The sons of Levi with their families camped close to the Tabernacle with each of the four army groups.