A year after Israel’s departure from Egypt, the LORD spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. In the first month of that year he said,
“Tell the Israelites to celebrate the Passover at the prescribed time,
at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. Be sure to follow all my decrees and regulations concerning this celebration.”
So Moses told the people to celebrate the Passover
in the wilderness of Sinai as twilight fell on the fourteenth day of the month. 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 body, so they could not celebrate the Passover that day. They came to Moses and Aaron that day
and said, “We have become ceremonially unclean by touching a dead body. But why should we be prevented 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 to Moses.
“Give the following instructions to the people of Israel: 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, at twilight on the fourteenth day of the second month. They must eat the Passover lamb at that time with bitter salad greens 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 neglect to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, even though they are ceremonially clean and not away on a trip, will be cut off from the community of Israel. If they fail 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 decrees and regulations. The same laws apply both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you.”
On the day the Tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered it. But from evening until morning the cloud over the Tabernacle looked like a pillar of fire.
This was the regular pattern—at night the cloud that covered the Tabernacle had the appearance of fire.
Whenever the cloud lifted from over the sacred tent, the people of Israel would break camp and follow it. And wherever the cloud settled, the people of Israel would set up camp.
In this way, they traveled and camped at the LORD ’s command wherever he told them to go. Then they remained in their camp as long as the cloud stayed over the Tabernacle.
If the cloud remained over the Tabernacle for a long time, the Israelites stayed and performed their duty to the LORD .
Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Tabernacle for only a few days, so the people would stay for only a few days, as the LORD commanded. Then at the LORD ’s command they would break camp and move on.
Sometimes the cloud stayed only overnight and lifted the next morning. But day or night, when the cloud lifted, the people broke camp and moved on.
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.