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9. The Passover
1And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, in the wilderness of Sinai, in the second year of their going out of the land of Egypt, in the first month, saying, 2`Also, the sons of Israel prepare the passover in its appointed season; 3in the fourteenth day of this month between the evenings ye prepare it in its appointed season; according to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances ye prepare it.` 4And Moses speaketh unto the sons of Israel to prepare the passover, 5and they prepare the passover in the first [month], on the fourteenth day of the month, between the evenings, in the wilderness of Sinai; according to all that Jehovah hath commanded Moses, so have the sons of Israel done. 6And there are men who have been defiled by the body of a man, and they have not been able to prepare the passover on that day, and they come near before Moses, and before Aaron, on that day, 7and those men say unto him, `We are defiled by the body of a man; why are we withheld so as not to bring near the offering of Jehovah in its appointed season, in the midst of the sons of Israel?` 8And Moses saith unto them, `Stand ye, and I hear what Jehovah hath commanded concerning you.` 9And Jehovah speaketh unto Moses, saying, 10`Speak unto the sons of Israel, saying, Though any man is unclean by a body or in a distant journey (of you or of your generations), yet he hath prepared a passover to Jehovah; 11in the second month, on the fourteenth day, between the evenings they prepare it; with unleavened and bitter things they eat it; 12they do not leave of till morning; and a bone they do not break in it: according to all the statute of the passover they prepare it. 13`And the man who is clean, and hath not been on a journey, and hath ceased to prepare the passover, even that person hath been cut off from his people; because the offering of Jehovah he hath not brought near, in its appointed season, that man doth bear his sin. 14`And when a sojourner sojourneth with you, then he hath prepared a passover to Jehovah, according to the statute of the passover, and according to its ordinance, so he doth; one statute is to you, even to a sojourner, and to a native of the land.` 15And in the day of the raising up of the tabernacle hath the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the tent of the testimony; and in the evening there is on the tabernacle as an appearance of fire till morning; 16so it is continually; the cloud covereth it, also the appearance of fire by night. 17And according to the going up of the cloud from off the tent and afterwards do the sons of Israel journey; and in the place where the cloud doth tabernacle, there do the sons of Israel encamp; 18by the command of Jehovah the sons of Israel journey, and by the command of Jehovah they encamp; all the days that the cloud doth tabernacle over the tabernacle they encamp. 19And in the cloud prolonging itself over the tabernacle many days, then have the sons of Israel kept the charge of Jehovah, and journey not, 20and so when the cloud is a number of days over the tabernacle; by the command of Jehovah they encamp, and by the command of Jehovah they journey. 21And so when the cloud is from evening till morning, when the cloud hath gone up in the morning, then they have journeyed; whether by day or by night, when the cloud hath gone up, then they have journeyed. 22Whether two days, or a month, or days, in the cloud prolonging itself over the tabernacle, to tabernacle over it, the sons of Israel encamp, and journey not; and in its being lifted up they journey; 23by the command of Jehovah they encamp, and by the command of Jehovah they journey; the charge of Jehovah they have kept, by the command of Jehovah in the hand of Moses.
Nu 9:1-5. The Passover Enjoined.
2-5. Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season, &c.—The date of this command to keep the passover in the wilderness was given shortly after the erection and consecration of the tabernacle and preceded the numbering of the people by a month. (Compare Nu 9:1 with Nu 1:1, 2). But it is narrated after that transaction in order to introduce the notice of a particular case, for which a law was provided to meet the occasion. This was the first observance of the passover since the exodus; and without a positive injunction, the Israelites were under no obligation to keep it till their settlement in the land of Canaan (Ex 12:25). The anniversary was kept on the exact day of the year on which they, twelve months before, had departed from Egypt; and it was marked by all the peculiar rites—the he lamb and the unleavened bread. The materials would be easily procured—the lambs from their numerous flocks and the meal for the unleavened bread, by the aid of Jethro, from the land of Midian, which was adjoining their camp (Ex 3:1). But their girded loins, their sandaled feet, and their staff in their hand, being mere circumstances attending a hurried departure and not essential to the rite, were not repeated. It is supposed to have been the only observance of the feast during their forty years' wandering; and Jewish writers say that, as none could eat the passover except they were circumcised (Ex 12:43, 44, 48), and circumcision was not practised in the wilderness [Jos 5:4-7], there could be no renewal of the paschal solemnity.
Nu 9:6-14. A Second Passover Allowed.
6, 7. there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man—To discharge the last offices to the remains of deceased relatives was imperative; and yet attendance on a funeral entailed ceremonial defilement, which led to exclusion from all society and from the camp for seven days. Some persons who were in this situation at the arrival of the first paschal anniversary, being painfully perplexed about the course of duty because they were temporarily disqualified at the proper season, and having no opportunity of supplying their want were liable to a total privation of all their privileges, laid their case before Moses. Jewish writers assert that these men were the persons who had carried out the dead bodies of Nadab and Abihu [Le 10:4, 5].
8-14. Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you—A solution of the difficulty was soon obtained, it being enacted, by divine authority, that to those who might be disqualified by the occurrence of a death in their family circle or unable by distance to keep the passover on the anniversary day, a special license was granted of observing it by themselves on the same day and hour of the following month, under a due attendance to all the solemn formalities. (See on 2Ch 30:2). But the observance was imperative on all who did not labor under these impediments.
14. if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover—Gentile converts, or proselytes, as they were afterwards called, were admitted, if circumcised, to the same privileges as native Israelites, and were liable to excommunication if they neglected the passover. But circumcision was an indispensable condition; and whoever did not submit to that rite, was prohibited, under the sternest penalties, from eating the passover.
Nu 9:15-23. A Cloud Guides the Israelites.
15. the cloud covered the tabernacle—The inspired historian here enters on an entirely new subject, which might properly have formed a separate chapter, beginning at this verse and ending at Nu 10:29 [Calmet]. The cloud was a visible token of God's special presence and guardian care of the Israelites (Ex 14:20; Ps 105:39). It was easily distinguishable from all other clouds by its peculiar form and its fixed position; for from the day of the completion of the tabernacle it rested by day as a dark, by night as a fiery, column on that part of the sanctuary which contained the ark of the testimony (Le 16:2).
17. when the cloud was taken up—that is, rose to a higher elevation, so as to be conspicuous at the remotest extremities of the camp. That was a signal for removal; and, accordingly, it is properly called (Nu 9:18) "the commandment of the Lord." It was a visible token of the presence of God; and from it, as a glorious throne, He gave the order. So that its motion regulated the commencement and termination of all the journeys of the Israelites. (See on Ex 14:19).
19. when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle, … then Israel kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not—A desert life has its attractions, and constant movements create a passionate love of change. Many incidents show that the Israelites had strongly imbibed this nomad habit and were desirous of hastening to Canaan. But still the phases of the cloud indicated the command of God: and whatsoever irksomeness they might have felt in remaining long stationary in camp, "when the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle many days, they kept the charge of the Lord, and journeyed not." Happy for them had they always exhibited this spirit of obedience! and happy for all if, through the wilderness of this world, we implicitly follow the leadings of God's Providence and the directions of God's Word!