Journeys and Decampments
The final parsha of the book of Bamidbar recounts the travels of Israel in the wilderness. The list is introduced as follows: Moshe recorded their decampments for their journeys at the command of
Notice how the order of “decampments” and “journeys” is inverted in the second half of the verse.
The journey and the encampment were always at
To the people, it was just the opposite! Wherever they stayed, they were dissatisfied. When the time came to leave a place, for them the decampment was the purpose. It did not matter to
them where they were going next. The main thing was the leave the place in which they had been staying. They journeyed forth in order to leave their place of encampment. Hence, all of their journeys were “journeys for their decampments.”
Indeed, the initial description of the travel guidance system in the wilderness (9:16-22) makes clear that the most challenging aspect of the unpredictable guidance was the waiting at the lengthy stops. Nothing is said of the duration of the journeys, but the prolonged waiting is mentioned several times in these verses.
So it is with our individual journeys and Israel’s journey as a nation. We mistakenly think that progress only comes when we leave the place we are in — we journey so that we may decamp. But
- Sources: Commentary, Bamidbar 32:2