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    When an Israelite got lost – B’midbar

    The massive crowd that made up the Children of Israel in the wilderness must have been both impressive and daunting.

    Holbein’s Tribes of Israel, 16th century

    What would have happened, though, if an individual Israelite had got lost? How would he ever have found his way back to his own family and tribe?

    We know that the camp was arrayed around the central sanctuary, and the people were divided into tribes, each with their own coloured flag, and the tribes into “fathers’ houses” with their own coloured ensigns (Num. 1:2).

    Rashi suggested that the colours tallied with the particular tribe’s stone in the high priest’s breastplate.

    According to Ibn Ezra, each flag and ensign bore a logo – Judah’s was a lion, for example; Dan’s was an eagle.

    Presumably the children of each group were taught what their particular symbol was and were drilled and rehearsed in this information so that anyone who got lost knew what to look for and ask for.

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