וישאו אתו בניו. וְלֹא בְנֵי בָנָיו, שֶׁכָּךְ צִוָּם, אַל יִשְׂאוּ מִטָּתִי לֹא אִישׁ מִצְרִי וְלֹא אֶחָד מִבְּנֵיכֶם, שֶׁהֵם מִבְּנוֹת כְּנַעַן, אֶלָּא אַתֶּם, וְקָבַע לָהֶם מָקוֹם ג' לַמִּזְרָח, וְכֵן לְד' רוּחוֹת, וּכְסִדְרָן לְמַסַּע מַחֲנֶה שֶׁל דְּגָלִים נִקְבְעוּ כָאן; לֵוִי לֹא יִשָּׂא, שֶׁהוּא עָתִיד לָשֵׂאת אֶת הָאָרוֹן, וְיוֹסֵף לֹא יִשָּׂא, לְפִי שֶׁהוּא מֶלֶךְ, מְנַשֶּׁה וְאֶפְרַיִם יִהְיוּ תַחְתֵּיהֶם, וְזֶהוּ אִישׁ עַל דִּגְלוֹ בְאֹתֹת – בְּאוֹת שֶׁמָּסַר לָהֶם אֲבִיהֶם לִשָּׂא מִטָּתוֹ:
וישאו אותו בניו AND HIS SONS BORE HIM — His sons and not his grandsons. For thus, indeed, he had commanded them: “My bier shall not be borne by an Egyptian, nor by one of your sons because they are children of Canaanite women, but you alone shall bear it He likewise assigned them their positions, namely, three on the east-side and an equal number on the other three sides of the bier. In the same order in which later on the camps marched through the wilderness bearing their several banners they were arranged here. But the 12 tribes that formed these four divisions did not include Levi or Joseph, for Jacob had said, “Levi shall not carry my bier because he is destined to carry the holy Ark; Joseph shall not carry it because he is a king, but Manasseh and Ephraim shall take their places”. And, it is to this that Scripture refers when it says, (Numbers 2:2) “every man [shall pitch] by his own banner according to the signs” — meaning according to the sign (i.e. indication of position) which their father individually gave them with regard to carrying his bier (Midrash Tanchuma, Bamidbar 12).