The LORD spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai. It was the first month of the second year after the people came out of Egypt. He said,
"Tell the people of Israel to celebrate the Passover Feast. Have them do it at the appointed time.
Celebrate it when the sun goes down on the 14th day of this month. Obey all of its rules and laws."
So Moses told the people of Israel to celebrate the Passover Feast.
They did it in the Desert of Sinai. They celebrated it when the sun went down on the 14th day of the first month. The people of Israel did everything just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
But some of them couldn't celebrate the Passover Feast on that day. That's because they weren't "clean." They had gone near a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day.
They said to Moses, "We went near a dead body. So we aren't 'clean.' But why should we be kept from bringing the LORD's offering at the appointed time? Why shouldn't we bring it along with the other people of Israel?"
Moses answered them, "Wait until I find out what the LORD wants you to do."
Then the LORD spoke to Moses. He said,
"Tell the people of Israel, 'Suppose any of you or your children are not "clean" because you have gone near a dead body. Or suppose you are away on a journey. You can still celebrate the LORD's Passover.
" 'I want you to celebrate it on the 14th day of the second month. You have to do it when the sun goes down. You have to eat the lamb together with bread that is made without yeast. Eat it with bitter plants.
Do not leave any of it until morning. Do not break any of its bones. When you celebrate the Passover Feast, follow all of the rules.
" 'But suppose a man is "clean." He is not on a journey. And he fails to celebrate the Passover Feast. Then he must be cut off from the community of Israel. He did not bring the LORD's offering at the appointed time. He will be punished for his sin.
" 'What if there is an outsider living among you? And what if he wants to celebrate the LORD's Passover? Then he must obey its rules and laws. You must have the same laws for outsiders as you do for the people of Israel.' "
The holy tent was set up. It was the tent where the tablets of the covenant were kept. On the day it was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening until morning the cloud that was above the tent looked like fire.
That's what continued to happen. The cloud covered the tent. At night the cloud looked like fire.
When the cloud lifted from its place above the tent, the people of Israel started out. Where the cloud settled, the people of Israel camped.
When the LORD gave the command, the people of Israel started out. And when he gave the command, they camped. As long as the cloud stayed above the holy tent, they remained in camp.
Sometimes the cloud remained above the tent for a long time. Then the people of Israel obeyed the LORD's order. They didn't start out.
Sometimes the cloud was above the tent for only a few days. When the LORD would give the command, they would camp. Then when he would give the command, they would start out.
Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening until morning. When it lifted in the morning, they started out. It didn't matter whether it was day or night. When the cloud lifted, the people started out.
It didn't matter whether the cloud stayed above the holy tent for two days or a month or a year. The people of Israel would remain in camp. They wouldn't start out. But when the cloud lifted, they would start out.
When the LORD gave the command, they camped. And when he gave the command, they started out. They obeyed the LORD's order. They obeyed him, just as he had commanded them through Moses.