What are the "Osos" to which the Torah is referring?
Rashi #1: They were a piece of cloth dyed the color of its stone in the Choshen Mishpat 1 (in the form of a flag that each tribe hoisted) so that everyone would know where his Shevet is.
Rashi #2 (citing the Tanchuma): "b'Osos l'Veis Avosam" refers to the instruction that Ya'akov gave his sons before he died, as to how they should carry his coffin to Eretz Kena'an to be buried. 2
Ibn Ezra (citing 'Kadmoneinu'): On the flag of Reuven was the picture of a man, on which were patterned Duda'im (mandrakes); 3 On the flag of Yehudah was the picture of a lion; On the flag of Efrayim was the picture of an ox; 4 And on the flag of Dan was the picture of an eagle. 5
Hadar Zekenim: Each Shevet's flag was the color of its stone [on the Choshen], and had the picture of the animal in its Brachah, e.g. an ox for Yosef 6 , a hart for Naftoli
See Shemos 28, 17-20. See also Targum Yonasan on Pasuk 3, 10, 18, 25 for a detailed description. Refer also to 2:2:1:3.
Rashi: As to who should carry on the east, who on the west ... , as the following Pesukim go on to state. Refer also to BBereishis, 50:12:1:1.
See Bereishis 30:14. According to Targum Yonasan on Pasuk 10, it should have been the picture of an ox, only, due to Chet ha'Egel, Moshe changed it to that of a gazelle (See commentaries).
Ibn Ezra: For Ya'akov compared Yehudah to.a lion, and Moshe compared Yosef to an ox (Devarim 33:17).
Ibn Ezra: All of this corresponds to the Keruvim which the Navi Yechezkel saw (in the opening chapter of his Sefer. This implies that only the leading tribe of each Degel that actually had a flag, and so implies Targum Yonason (10,18, 25).
Based on this, the flags of Efrayim and Menasheh would be the same. What was on the flag of Shimon? (PF)
What does "mi'Neged" mean?
Rashbam: It means at a distance.
See Ba'al ha'Turim.
What is the significance of the order of the four camps - Yehudah in the east, Reuven in the south, Efrayim in the west and Dan in the north?
Ramban: This is equivalent to the movement of the sun during the day 1 - It rises on the east 2 , and travels to the south and then to the west, before disappearing and crossing the earth invisibly on the north.
Which is called 'light' and befitting Yehudah, the Shevet of Malchus. The Degel of Yehudah is therefore first as the Pasuk writes in Michah, 2:13 "va'Ya'avor Malkam Lifneihem, va'Hashem b'Rosham". Torah and wealth, represented by Yisachar and Zevulon respectively, are also called 'light' (R. Chavel's footnotes).
What is the significance of the fact that they encamped "around the Ohel Mo'ed"?
Ramban (citing the Midrash Rabah): Just as Hashem created the four directions in the world, so did He surround His Throne with four Chayos 1 (one of the highest form of angel), based on which He taught Moshe about four camps. 2
Why does the Torah go into such detail in connection with the four camps?
How many flags were there, what were they made out of and how were thy arranged?
Targum Yonasan: The four flags
Targum Yonasan: Yehudah: "Kumah Hashem, "Veyafutzu Oyveca ... ". Reuven: ""Sh'ma Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu ... "; Efrayim: "va'Anan Hashem Aleihem Yomam be'Nas'am min ha'Machaneh"; Dan: "u've'Nuchoh Yomar 'Shuvah Hashem Riv'vos Alfei Yisrael".
Targum Yonasan: Yehudah: A lion; Reuven: A young gazelle (instead of a young calf
QUESTIONS ON RASHI
Rashi writes that they were a Mil away, so they could come on Shabbos. This does not apply here, for Ananei ha'Kavod surrounded them, and Yisrael camped around the Mishkan on all four sides. It was Reshus ha'Yachid (i.e. like a city, so there was no issue of Techumim)!
Moshav Zekenim: Rashi means that in Sefer Yehoshua it was a Mil away, so they could come on Shabbos. Then, Ananei ha'Kavod did not surround them.