Parshat BaMidbar – במדבר

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The Twelve Tribes encamped in the desert around the Mishkan in four triad groups each with its own specific banner דגל which illustrated the quality of the Tribe. The arrangement of the triads correspond to the Four Directions and Seasons and the Twelve Constellations.

Facing the East (Spring) was the triad led by Judah:

01Judah

The desert banner of Judah contained a picture of a crouching lion about to spring forth and achieve victory over the enemies, internal and external, which is a primary attribute of Kingdom, as well as the Baal Tsuvah, the Repenter, both of which are associated with Judah. (Genesis 49:9)

Judah is a young lion גור אריה יהודה

Nissan – Aries – Speech

Facing the North (Winter) was the triad led by Dan:

10Dan

The banner of Dan contained a snake image hence the suggestion of reptilian scales. It also had a set of inverted” faces, hinting that from this tribe would come many judges, who had to show impartiality in judging rich and poor and examine every side of the issue. So you can see one set of judges on the left and if you stand on your head or turn around the painting you can perceive another set. (Genesis 49:16) Dan shall judge his people דן ידין עמו (Genesis 49:17) Let Dan be a snake יהי דן נחש

Tevet – Capricorn – Anger

Facing the South (Summer) was the triad led by Reuvan:

reuben03WB2

The banner of Reuvan corresponds to the אדם (pronounced Oh-dem) in the breastplate of the High Priest,
a red stone which most commentators agree is a ruby, and the basis for the painting’s colors. The name אדם is also the word, Adam, or man, and suggests also the dudaim, the human-like mandrakes, which Reuvan gave to his mother Leah. The ruby and the mandrakes have been credited with having the power to aid fertility. This implies in the spiritual dimension the ability to make `chidushim’ new creative discoveries – and is also connected with the first three letters of Reuvan’s name ראו, which means seeing, even otherworldly vision.

(Genesis 30:14) Reuben went…and found mandrakes in the field וילך ראובן…וימצא דודאים בשדה

Tammuz – Cancer – Sight Facing the West (Autumn) was the triad led by Benjamin:

The banner of Benjamin showed a wolf, preying on its spoil, emanating ferocity. In the YouTube videoart section above two active wolves may be discerned somewhat hidden behind the reeds, (Genesis 49:27) Benjamin is a fierce wolf בנימין זאב יטרף

Kislev -Sagittarius – Sleep

More information on the Tribes

About the Author
Dov Lederberg is engaged in the converging vectors of art and science, but receives added inspiration from Kabbalah teachings & meditation and tries to create visual forms (in paintings on canvas but also video art) conducive to mystical experience and self-transformation. 
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