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    Peace is strength – B’midbar

    Holbein's Tribes of Israel, 16th century

    The Israelite camp may have been a tent town, but there was town planning at work.

    The twelve tribes all had their set place; surrounding the sanctuary on all four sides, they camped “each with his standard, under the banners of their ancestral house” (Num. 2:2). Each tribe had its banner; each banner had its emblem – altogether a magnificent sight.

    The Midrash says the surrounding peoples thought the banners indicated a military camp bent on war. The Israelites, however, indignantly replied that their camp had a peaceful purpose; the reason for their banners was to fulfil the command, “Your camp shall be holy” (Deut. 23:15).

    What made the camp holy was that since each tribe knew its own place, there would be no quarrels between them, no demarcation disputes. All were part of the same nation, but all had their own ways and ethos and made their own contribution to the common good. Their strength was in their internal peace; as the verse says, “The Lord will give strength to His people: the Lord will bless His people with peace” (Psalm 29:1 1).

    With peace in your camp, you are strong. When there is inner conflict, the future is bleak.

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