5 For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I went up among you for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments that I may know what I should do to you.’” 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments by Mount Horeb. 7 Moses took the tent and pitched it outside the camp, at a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. Anyone seeking the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting that was outside the camp. 8 And when Moses went out to the tent, all the people would get up and stand at the entrance to their tents and watch Moses until he entered the tent. 9 And whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses.
15 Those numbered in his division are 45,650. 16 All those numbered of the camp of Reuben, according to their divisions, are 151,450. They will travel second. 17 “Then the tent of meeting with the camp of the Levites will travel in the middle of the camps. They will travel in the same order as they camped, each in his own place under his standard. 18 “On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim under their standard. The leader of the people of Ephraim is Elishama son of Ammihud. 19 Those numbered in his division are 40,500.
Notes and References
"... This is the first mention of the tent where God will communicate with Israel. It will be the central place of worship, the only place where sacrifice is allowed, for all the years that they will spend in the wilderness and for centuries after that in the promised land, until its disappearance at the time of the destruction of the Temple of Solomon. The problem is that the Tent of Meeting is not yet built at this point. It is not set up until Exodus 40. Rashi and Ibn Ezra therefore identified the tent in this verse as Moses' own tent. Ibn Ezra also says that there are those who say that it is the Tent of the Tabernacle. From the point of view of critical scholarship, the problem is the result of the combining of two of the sources of the Torah: the report of the moving and naming of the Tent is identified as coming from E; the later report of the setting up of the Tent is identified as coming from P. That is an explanation of how the text was composed, but in understanding the text as it stands, I believe that Rashi and Ibn Ezra's explanation fits the text best ..."
Friedman, Richard Elliott Commentary on the Torah: With a New English Translation (p. 806) Harper Collins, 2003