Numbers 9:1-5 . THE PASSOVER ENJOINED.
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.
Numbers 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 Numbers 10:29 [CALMET]. The cloud was a visible token of God's special presence and guardian care of the Israelites ( Exodus 14:20 , Psalms 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 ( Leviticus 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 ( Numbers 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.
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!