Numbers 9

Israel Celebrates the Passover Feast

1 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,
2 "Tell the people of Israel to celebrate the Passover Feast. Have them do it at the appointed time.
3 Celebrate it when the sun goes down on the 14th day of this month. Obey all of its rules and laws."
4 So Moses told the people of Israel to celebrate the Passover Feast.
5 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.
6 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.
7 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?"
8 Moses answered them, "Wait until I find out what the LORD wants you to do."
9 Then the LORD spoke to Moses. He said,
10 "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.
11 " '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.
12 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.
13 " '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.
14 " '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 Cloud Covers the Holy Tent

15 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.
16 That's what continued to happen. The cloud covered the tent. At night the cloud looked like fire.
17 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.
18 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.
19 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.
20 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.
21 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.
22 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.
23 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.

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.

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

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