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Bible Commentaries
Numbers 9

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And the LORD spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 2

Let the children of Israel also keep the passover at his appointed season.

Let the children of Israel ... The date of this command to keep the Passover in the wilderness was given shortly after the erection and consecration of the tabernacle, and preceded the numbering of the people by a month (cf. Numbers 9:1 with Numbers 1:1-2). But it is narrated after that transaction, in order to introduce the notice of a particular case, for which a law was provided to meet the occasion. This was the first observance of the Passover since the exodus; and, without a positive injunction, the Israelites were under no obligation to keep it until their settlement in the land of Canaan (Exodus 12:25).

The anniversary was kept on the exact day of the year on which they, twelve months before, had departed from Egypt; and it was marked by all the special rites-the he-lamb and the unleavened bread. The materials would be easily procured-the lambs from their numerous flocks, and the meal for the unleavened bread, by the aid of Jethro, from the land of Midian, which was adjoining their camp (Exodus 3:1). But their girded loins, their sandaled feet, and their staff in their hand, being mere circumstances attending a hurried departure, and not essential to the rite were not repeated. It is supposed to have been the only observance of the feast during their forty years wandering; and Jewish writers say that, as none could eat the Passover except they were circumcised (Exodus 12:43-44; Exodus 12:48), and circumcision was not practiced in the wilderness, there could be no circumcised (Exodus 12:43-44; Exodus 12:48), and circumcision was not practiced in the wilderness, there could be no renewal of the paschal solemnity.

Verses 3-5

In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep it in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 6

And there were certain men, who were defiled by the dead body of a man, that they could not keep the passover on that day: and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day:

There were certain men ... defiled by the dead. To discharge the last offices to the remains of deceased relatives was imperative; and yet attendance on a funeral entailed ceremonial defilement, which led to exclusion from all society and from the camp for seven days (Numbers 5:2). Some persons who were in this situation at the arrival of the first paschal anniversary, being painfully perplexed about the course of duty, because they were temporarily disqualified at the proper season, and having no opportunity of supplying their want, were liable to a total privation of all their privileges, laid their case before Moses. Jewish writers assert that these men were the persons who had carried out the dead bodies of Nadab and Abihu (see Blunt's 'Coincidences,' p. 94).

Verse 7

And those men said unto him, We are defiled by the dead body of a man: wherefore are we kept back, that we may not offer an offering of the LORD in his appointed season among the children of Israel?

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 8

And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.

Stand still ... A solution of the difficulty was soon obtained-it being enacted, by divine authority, that to those who might be disqualified, by the occurrence of a death in his family circle, or unable by distance to keep the Passover on the anniversary day, a special license was granted of observing it by themselves on the same day and hour of the following month, under a due attendance to all the solemn formalities (see the note at 2 Chronicles 30:2). But the observance was imperative on all who did not labour under those impediments. This case furnishes a specimen of supplementary legislation, of which various instances will occur in the course of the history.

Verses 9-13

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 14

And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the passover unto the LORD; according to the ordinance of the passover, and according to the manner thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one ordinance, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.

If a stranger ... will keep the passover. Gentile converts, or proselytes, as they were afterward 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 were prohibited, under the sternest penalties, from eating the Passover.

Verse 15

And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony: and at even there was upon the tabernacle as it were the appearance of fire, until the morning.

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 Num. 9:29 of the following chapter. (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 special form and its fixed position; because 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).

Verse 16

So it was alway: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 17

And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.

When the cloud was taken up - i:e., 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 (see the note at Exodus 14:19).

Verse 18

At the commandment of the LORD the children of Israel journeyed, and at the commandment of the LORD they pitched: as long as the cloud abode upon the tabernacle they rested in their tents.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 19

And when the cloud tarried long upon the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD, and journeyed not.

Israel kept the charge of the Lord. A desert life has its attractions, and constant movements create a passionate love of change. Many incidents show that the Israelites strongly imbibed this nomad habit, and were desirous of hastening to Canaan. But still the phases of the cloud indicated a 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 if they had 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!

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Numbers 9". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/numbers-9.html. 1871-8.
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