Numbers 1:1 – 4:20: Haftarah: Hosea 2:1 – 2:22
As we begin the book of Numbers a major teaching is presented to us: the tabernacle which, in the eyes of the world is very small, is in actual reality greater than any physical reality. From this we start to learn about the tribes and their arrangement around this spiritually-immense Tabernacle. We connect these teachings to the Feast of Pentecost which has given us the Spirit to dwell in the Tabernacles of our bodies – and in the church as the body of Christ.
(Num 2:3) John of Damascus – De Fide Orth. 4.12
And so, since God is spiritual light1 and Christ in sacred Scripture is called ‘Sun of Justice’ and ‘Orient,’2 the East should be dedicated to His worship. For everything beautiful should be dedicated to God from whom everything that is good receives its goodness. Also, the divine David says: ‘Sing to God, ye kingdoms of the earth: sing ye to the Lord; who mounteth above the heaven of heavens, to the east.’3 And still again, Scripture says: ‘And the Lord had planted a paradise in Eden to the east; wherein he placed man whom he had formed,’ and whom He cast out, when He had transgressed, ‘and made him to live over against the paradise of pleasure,’4 or in the west. Thus it is that, when we worship God, we long for our ancient fatherland and gaze toward it. The tabernacle of Moses had the veil and the propitiatory to the east; and the tribe of Juda, as being the more honorable, pitched their tents on the east; and in the celebrated temple of Solomon the gate of the Lord was set to the east.5 As a matter of fact, when the Lord was crucified, He looked toward the west, and so we worship gazing towards Him. And when he was taken up, He ascended to the east and thus the Apostles worshiped Him and thus He shall come in the same way as they had seen Him going into heaven,6 as the Lord Himself said: ‘As lightning cometh out of the east and appeareth even into the west: so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.’7 And so, while we are awaiting Him, we worship toward the east. This is, moreover, the unwritten tradition of the Apostles, for they have handed many things down to us unwritten.