Numbers 9

1 And the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sina in the second year after they had gone forth from the land of Egypt, in the first month, saying,
2 Speak, and let the children of Israel keep the passover in its season.
3 On the fourteenth day of the first month at even, thou shalt keep it in its season; thou shalt keep it according to its law, and according to its ordinance.
4 And Moses ordered the children of Israel to sacrifice the passover,
5 on the fourteenth day of the first month in the wilderness of Sina, as the Lord appointed Moses, so the children of Israel did.
6 And there came men who were unclean by reason of a dead body, and they were not able to keep the passover on that day; and they came before Moses and Aaron on that day.
7 And those men said to Moses, We are unclean by reason of the dead body of a man: shall we therefore fail to offer the gift to the Lord in its season in the midst of the children of Israel?
8 And Moses said to them, stand there, and I will hear what charge the Lord will give concerning you.
9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
10 Speak to the children of Israel, saying, Whatever man shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or on a journey far off, among you, or among your posterity; he shall then keep the passover to the Lord,
11 in the second month, on the fourteenth day; in the evening they shall offer it, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs shall they eat it.
12 They shall not leave of it until the morrow, and they shall not break a bone of it; they shall sacrifice it according to the ordinance of the passover.
13 And whatsoever man shall be clean, and is not far off on a journey, and shall fail to keep the passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people, because he has not offered the gift to the Lord in its season: that man shall bear his iniquity.
14 And if there should come to you a stranger in your land, and should keep the passover to the Lord, he shall keep it according to the law of the passover and according to its ordinance: there shall be one law for you, both for the stranger, and for the native of the land.
15 And in the day in which the tabernacle was pitched the cloud covered the tabernacle, the place of the testimony; and in the evening there was upon the tabernacle as the appearance of fire till the morning.
16 So it was continually: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
17 And when the cloud went up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel departed; and in whatever place the cloud rested, there the children of Israel encamped.
18 The children of Israel shall encamp by the command of the Lord, and by the command of the Lord they shall remove: all the days in which the cloud overshadows the tabernacle, the children of Israel shall encamp. And whenever the cloud shall be drawn over the tabernacle for many days, then the children of Israel shall keep the charge of God, and they shall not remove.
19 And it shall be, whenever the cloud overshadows the tabernacle a number of days, they shall encamp by the word of the Lord, and shall remove by the command of the Lord.
20 And it shall come to pass, whenever the cloud shall remain from the evening till the morning, and in the morning the cloud shall go up, then shall they remove by day or by night.
21 When the cloud continues a full month overshadowing the tabernacle, the children of Israel shall encamp, and shall not depart.
22 For they shall depart by the command of the Lord: - they kept the charge of the Lord by the command of the Lord by the hand of Moses.

Numbers 9 Commentary

Chapter 9

Of the Passover. (1-14) The removals of the Israelites. (15-23)

Verses 1-14 God gave particular orders for the keeping of this passover, and, for aught that appears, after this, they kept no passover till they came to Canaan, ( Joshua 5:10 ) . It early showed that the ceremonial institutions were not to continue always, as so soon after they were appointed, some were suffered to sleep for many years. But the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was not thus set aside in the first days of the Christian church, although those were days of greater difficulty and distress than Israel knew in the wilderness; nay, in the times of persecution, the Lord's Supper was celebrated more frequently than afterward. Israelites in the wilderness could not forget the deliverance out of Egypt. There was danger of this when they came to Canaan. Instructions were given concerning those who were ceremonially unclean, when they were to eat the passover. Those whose minds and consciences are defiled by sin, are unfit for communion with God, and cannot partake with comfort of the gospel passover, till they are cleansed by true repentance and faith. Observe with what trouble and concern these men complained that they were kept back from offering to the Lord. It should be a trouble to us, when by any occasion we are kept back from the solemnities of a sabbath or a sacrament. Observe the deliberation of Moses in resolving this case. Ministers must ask counsel of God's mouth, not determine according to their own fancy or affection, but according to the word of God to the best of their knowledge. And if, in difficult cases, time is taken to spread the matter before God by humble, believing prayer, the Holy Spirit assuredly will direct in the good and right way. God gave directions in this case, and in other similar cases, explanatory of the law of the passover. As those who, against their minds, are forced to absent themselves from God's ordinances, may expect the favours of God's grace under their affliction, so those who, of choice, absent themselves, may expect God's wrath for their sin. Be not deceived: God is not mocked.

Verses 15-23 This cloud was appointed to be the visible sign and symbol of God's presence with Israel. Thus we are taught to see God always near us, both night and day. As long as the cloud rested on the tabernacle, so long they continued in the same place. There is no time lost, while we are waiting God's time. When the cloud was taken up, they removed, however comfortably they were encamped. We are kept at uncertainty concerning the time of our putting off the earthly house of this tabernacle, that we may be always ready to remove at the command of the Lord. It is very safe and pleasant going when we see God before us, and resting where he appoints us to rest. The leading of this cloud is spoken of as signifying the guidance of the blessed Spirit. We are not now to expect such tokens of the Divine presence and guidance; but the promise is sure to all God's spiritual Israel, that he will guide them by his counsel. #Ps. 73:24 |, even unto death, ( Psalms 48:14 ) . All the children of God shall be led by the Spirit of God, ( Romans 8:14 ) . He will direct the paths of those who in all their ways acknowledge him, ( Proverbs 3:6 ) . At the commandment of the Lord, our hearts should always move and rest, saying, Father, thy will be done; dispose of me and mine as thou pleasest. What thou wilt, and where thou wilt; only let me be thine, and always in the way of my duty. In applying general precepts to particular circumstances, there should be good counsel and fervent prayer. When any undertaking is evidently wrong, or doubtfully right, and yet the mind leans that way, in such a case "the moving of the cloud," as men sometimes miscall it, is generally no more than a temptation Satan is permitted to propose; and men fancy they are following the Lord, when they are following their own wayward inclinations. The record of his mercy will conduct us with unerring truth, through Christ, to everlasting peace. Follow the pillar of the cloud and of fire. Lay the BIBLE to heart, and receive with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

Footnotes 4

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the command for keeping the passover is repeated, and it was accordingly kept, Nu 9:1-5; but some persons being defiled and disqualified for observing it, Moses inquires of the Lord, on their solicitation, what should be done in such a case, Nu 9:6-8; when it was ordered to be kept by such, and those on journeys, on the fourteenth day of the second month, but not by others, who were to observe it according to its first appointment, Nu 9:9-14; and an account is given of the appearance of the cloud by day, and fire by night, upon the tabernacle, which directed the children of Israel when to journey, and when to pitch their tents, Nu 9:15-23.

Numbers 9 Commentaries

The Brenton translation of the Septuagint is in the public domain.