Numbers 9

The Passover

1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the Desert of Sinai in the first month of the second year after they came out of Egypt. He said,
2 “Have the Israelites celebrate the Passover at the appointed time.
3 Celebrate it at the appointed time, at twilight on the fourteenth day of this month, in accordance with all its rules and regulations.”
4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate the Passover,
5 and they did so in the Desert of Sinai at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses.
6 But some of them could not celebrate the Passover on that day because they were ceremonially unclean on account of a dead body. So they came to Moses and Aaron that same day
7 and said to Moses, “We have become unclean because of a dead body, but why should we be kept from presenting the LORD’s offering with the other Israelites at the appointed time?”
8 Moses answered them, “Wait until I find out what the LORD commands concerning you.”
9 Then the LORD said to Moses,
10 “Tell the Israelites: ‘When any of you or your descendants are unclean because of a dead body or are away on a journey, they are still to celebrate the LORD’s Passover,
11 but they are to do it on the fourteenth day of the second month at twilight. They are to eat the lamb, together with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
12 They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.
13 But if anyone who is ceremonially clean and not on a journey fails to celebrate the Passover, they must be cut off from their people for not presenting the LORD’s offering at the appointed time. They will bear the consequences of their sin.
14 “ ‘A foreigner residing among you is also to celebrate the LORD’s Passover in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for both the foreigner and the native-born.’ ”

The Cloud Above the Tabernacle

15 On the day the tabernacle, the tent of the covenant law, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.
16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire.
17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.
18 At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.
19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.
20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out.
21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out.
22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.
23 At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out. They obeyed the LORD’s order, in accordance with his command 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.

Cross References 34

  • 1. S Exodus 40:2
  • 2. Numbers 1:1
  • 3. S Exodus 12:11
  • 4. ver 7
  • 5. S Exodus 12:6,42
  • 6. Ex 12:2-11,43-49; Leviticus 23:5-8; Deuteronomy 16:1-8
  • 7. ver 2; S Exodus 12:11
  • 8. ver 1
  • 9. S Exodus 12:6; Exodus 12:1-13; Joshua 5:10
  • 10. ver 3
  • 11. S Leviticus 5:3; S Leviticus 13:3
  • 12. S Leviticus 21:11
  • 13. Exodus 18:15; Numbers 27:2
  • 14. ver 2
  • 15. Exodus 18:15; Leviticus 24:12; Numbers 15:34; Numbers 27:5,21; Psalms 85:8
  • 16. ver 6
  • 17. 2 Chronicles 30:2
  • 18. S Exodus 12:6
  • 19. Exodus 12:8
  • 20. S Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:10,43
  • 21. S Exodus 12:46; John 19:36*
  • 22. ver 3
  • 23. S Genesis 17:14; Exodus 12:15
  • 24. S Exodus 12:19,43; Exodus 12:48,49
  • 25. S Exodus 38:21
  • 26. S Exodus 26:30
  • 27. S Exodus 33:16; Exodus 40:34
  • 28. Exodus 13:21
  • 29. S Exodus 40:38
  • 30. ver 21
  • 31. Exodus 40:36-38; Numbers 10:11,12; 1 Corinthians 10:1
  • 32. Exodus 40:37
  • 33. S Leviticus 8:35
  • 34. Exodus 40:37

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO NUMBERS 9

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