The LORD gave these instructions to Moses in early spring, a during the second year after Israel's departure from Egypt, while he and the rest of the Israelites were in the wilderness of Sinai:
"Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the proper time,
at twilight on the appointed day in early spring. b Be sure to follow all my laws and regulations concerning this celebration."
So Moses told the people to celebrate the Passover
in the wilderness of Sinai as twilight fell on the appointed day. c And they celebrated the festival there, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.
But some of the men had been ceremonially defiled by touching a dead person, so they could not offer their Passover lambs that day. So they came to Moses and Aaron that day
and said, "We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead person. But why should we be excluded from presenting the LORD's offering at the proper time with the rest of the Israelites?"
Moses answered, "Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the LORD."
This was the LORD's reply:
"Say to the Israelites: 'If any of the people now or in future generations are ceremonially unclean at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present at the ceremony, they may still celebrate the LORD's Passover.
They must offer the Passover sacrifice one month later, d at twilight on the appointed day. They must eat the lamb at that time with bitter herbs and bread made without yeast.
They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones. They must follow all the normal regulations concerning the Passover.
"'But those who are ceremonially clean and not away on a trip, yet still refuse to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, will be cut off from the community of Israel for failing to present the LORD's offering at the proper time. They will suffer the consequences of their guilt.
And if foreigners living among you want to celebrate the Passover to the LORD, they must follow these same laws and regulations. The same laws apply both to you and to the foreigners living among you.'"
The Tabernacle was set up, and on that day the cloud covered it. e Then from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle appeared to be a pillar of fire.
This was the regular pattern -- at night the cloud changed to the appearance of fire.
When the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel followed it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel camped.
In this way, they traveled at the LORD's command and stopped wherever he told them to. Then they remained where they were as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle.
If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed for a long time, just as the LORD commanded.
Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days. Then at the LORD's command they would break camp.
Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and moved on the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and followed.
Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on.
So they camped or traveled at the LORD's command, and they did whatever the LORD told them through Moses.
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)