Bamidbar – Promotion of Separatism


To the east of the Tabernacle camped the group made up of Judah, Yissachar and Zebulun. To the south, Reuben, Simon and Gad. To the west, Ephraim, Menashe and Benjamin. And to the north, Dan, Asher and Naphtali.

The inner circle surrounding the Tabernacle was allocated to the three Levite families, as well as the tents of Moses and Aaron.

Why is the Torah so particular about the formation of the camp? Furthermore, why does the Torah promote separatism between tribes?

The Israelites had just left Egypt, had just become an independent nation and were now charged with their mission at Sinai. One would expect that the first step would be to unify the entire nation under one banner, one flag. There should be no difference between the Goldbergs, the Goldsteins and the Goldwassers. One nation, under G-d, indivisible…

In reality, however, each tribe had its unique banner and symbol. They were encouraged to remain apart from other tribes, and even when they would arrive in the Promised Land, nearly forty years later, they would be divided into tribal territories.

Many commentators discuss the significance o