Preservation of the Purity of the Camp in Time of War. - The bodily appearance of the people was also to correspond to the sacredness of Israel as the congregation of the Lord, especially when they gathered in hosts around their God. “When thou marchest out as a camp against thine enemies, beware of every evil thing.” What is meant by an “evil thing” is stated in Deu 23:10-13, viz., uncleanness, and uncleanliness of the body.
The person who had become unclean through a nightly occurrence, was to go out of the camp and remain there till he had cleansed himself in the evening. On the journey through the desert, none but those who were affected with uncleanness of a longer duration were to be removed from the camp (Num 5:2) but when they were encamped, this law was to apply to even lighter defilements.
The camp of war was also not to be defiled with the dirt of excrements. Outside the camp there was to be a space or place (יָד, as in Num 2:17) for the necessities of nature, and among their implements they were to have a spade, with which they were to dig when they sat down, and then cover it up again. יָתֵד, generally a plug, here a tool for sticking in, i.e., for digging into the ground.
For the camp was to be (to be kept) holy, because Jehovah walked in the midst of it, in order that He might not see “nakedness of a thing,” i.e., anything to be ashamed of (see at Deu 24:1) in the people, “and turn away from thee.” There was nothing shameful in the excrement itself; but the want of reverence, which the people would display through not removing it, would offend the Lord and drive Him out of the camp of Israel.