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Num 9:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying-
This was therefore before the census which was taken, and is evidence that the book of Numbers [as much of the historical record] is not strictly chronological. 

Num 9:2 Moreover let the children of Israel keep the Passover in its appointed season-
This may have been to clarify the earlier statements that they were to keep Passover in the land of promise (Ex. 12:25; 13:5). In which case we note that God's law was ever open to interpretation and clarification. But it could be that it was God's intention that Israel left Egypt and immediately journeyed to Canaan and kept the next Passover there, within 12 months of Passover night in Egypt. But again, His purpose is open ended and flexible; He perceived that they weren't ready for this, and especially after the apostacy with the golden calf, they needed more time to prepare them. This same principle accounts for the flexible date of the Lord's second coming, and all attempts to construct sequences of latter day events are all doomed because of this failure to accept that God's program is flexible and responsive to human response to it. 


Num 9:3 On the fourteenth day of this month, at evening, you shall keep it in its appointed time. According to all its statutes, and according to all its ordinances, you shall keep it-
This raises the question as to where Israel got so many lambs from in the desert. Clearly in their situation they kept the spirit of it, and this was counted as keeping it according to all the legal requirements of it. Perhaps the commandments to "keep it" were given because of the logistical concerns as to whether they were able to keep it precisely as they had done on leaving Egypt.


Num 9:4 Moses spoke to the children of Israel, that they should keep the Passover-
See on :2,3 for reasons why they had to be encouraged to keep it.


Num 9:5 They kept the Passover in the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month, at evening, in the wilderness of Sinai. According to all that Yahweh commanded Moses, so the children of Israel did-
The people of Israel as a body were going through the death and resurrection experience of the Lord Jesus, through the process of the Passover and Exodus through the Red Sea. Israel ate Passover (Ex. 12:6) [14th Abib], as the Lord died on the cross as the Passover lambs were slain; Israel left Egypt the next day (Num. 33:3) [15th Abib] and journeyed three days (Ex. 8:27) [15th-17th Abib], and the Lord Jesus was three days in the tomb. Israel then came through the Red Sea [17th Abib], connecting with the Lord's being resurrected. As we come out of the baptismal water, we really are united with the resurrected Lord- a new creation. His newness of life, His deliverance and successful exodus from the world- all this becomes ours.


Num 9:6 There were certain men, who were unclean because of the dead body of a man, so that they could not keep the Passover on that day, and they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day-
Perhaps these men were Mishael and Elizaphan, who had recently (Lev. 9:1; 10:4) been defiled by burying their cousins Nadab and Abihu. These men are similar to us. We wish to keep the Passover, which for us is the breaking of bread service (1 Cor. 5:8), but we feel the burden of our uncleanness. But this is no barrier to God; He found a way for them to keep it, so eager was He for fellowship with His people. In our times, God has likewise found a way- and that way is through the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus which cleanses us and enables us to legitimately have fellowship with God. This desire of God to ‘find a way’ for His weak people to approach Him is found throughout the Law of Moses, e.g. in the possibility for a very poor person to offer a flour sacrifice rather than a blood one requiring an animal. This is a comfort to us, and should also be a pattern for us in how we deal with the weakness of others.

 

Num 9:7 Those men said to him, We are unclean because of the dead body of a man. Why are we kept back, that we may not offer the offering of Yahweh in its appointed time among the children of Israel?-
"Kept back" in Hebrew has the idea of "diminished". The subtext of these men may be that they considered it unreasonable that God had diminished them by the death of their relatives (see on :6), and now as it were added insult to injury by forbidding them participation in the Passover because they had buried their relatives and were therefore unclean. They of course need not have touched the dead bodies of their relatives; they could have put Passover importance in first place. They chose not to. And yet God graciously allows them a way to still keep the Passover, despite recognizing their uncleanness. See on :9.


Num 9:8 Moses answered them, Wait, that I may hear what Yahweh will command concerning you-
The command had in a sense already been given- they were unclean, and so were not to partake. But Moses senses that God is beyond legalism and literalism, and is open to fellowship with all- including the difficult and the unclean. And He is aware that God's law is open to reinterpretation and reapplication, and is not at all 'set in stone'.


Num 9:9 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying-
Joseph of Arimathea personally took the Lords body down from the cross and buried it. His contact with the body meant that he couldn't keep the Passover (Num. 9:9,10). The people would have watched incredulous as one of the leaders of Israel openly showed his preference for the crucified Nazarene as opposed to keeping the Mosaic Law. The phobia for cleanliness at Passover time would have meant that everyone was extremely sensitive to what Joseph did. And these men could have done what he did and accepted that they therefore couldn't partake of the Passover. But they appear to have had another agenda and an objection to God's ways.


Num 9:10 Say to the children of Israel, ‘If any man of you or of your generations is unclean by reason of a dead body, or is on a journey far away, he shall still keep the Passover to Yahweh-
It seems from Num. 9:10,13 and the examples of Hezekiah and Josiah's Passovers, that it was more important to keep the Passover even if not everything was being done exactly in order, even if there was a sense of unworthiness, than to not do it at all. This should be borne in mind when some feel 'unworthy' to take the emblems, or where there are genuine problems in obtaining wine.


Num 9:11 In the second month, on the fourteenth day at evening they shall keep it: they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs-
The Passover, as the prototype breaking of bread, featured bitter herbs to remind Israel of their bitter experience in Egypt (Ex. 1:14). The breaking of bread should likewise focus our attention on the fact that return to the world is a return to bondage and bitterness, not freedom. Israel didn't learn this lesson, they forgot the bitterness of Egypt, and longed to return to it. The idea was that the sweetness of the lamb's roasted meat was to assuage the bitterness of the herbs; and we see here prefigured the intended effect of the Lord's sacrifice.


Num 9:12 They shall leave none of it until the morning-
Ex. 12:10 adds: "You shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; but that which remains of it until the morning you shall burn with fire".
There is the possibility of living before God on different levels. Hence nothing was to remain, but God foresaw that some would allow part of the sacrifice to remain. This was a concession to human weakness, and reflects God's awareness of human liability to failure.

Nor break a bone of it. According to all the law of the Passover they shall keep it-
Jn. 19:36 stresses that not a bone of the Lord Jesus was broken when He was crucified. We are the Lord's body, of His flesh and bones (Eph. 5:30). Crucifixion was designed to torture the bones; and yet none was broken. We suffer in Him, but shall not be finally broken. As the Passover lambs were being killed, the Lord died; and it was critical that not a bone of the Passover lambs be broken (Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12). John seems so keen to point out that the Lord died as the Passover lamb, and Paul perceives this when stating that He is "our Passover" (1 Cor. 5:7). For no bone of the Lord to be broken, the nails driven through His hands [the Greek can refer to the arms or wrists too] would not have been large, and would probably have been driven through the 'Destot gap', the set of nerves in between the large wrist bones. The pain would have been intense at that point. The rough hammering of the nails through that point would have paid no attention to detail; but those hammer blows were Divinely guided so that no bone broke. And this would have been even more amazingly guided for the nails driven through the feet not to break a bone. It was only by the Lord refusing to relieve the pain by pushing down on the sedile that He avoided breaking any bones.

Num 9:13 But the man who is clean, and is not on a journey, and fails to keep the Passover, that soul shall be cut off from his people. Because he didn’t offer the offering of Yahweh in its appointed time, that man shall bear his sin-
Being "cut off from Israel" may not mean that the person must be slain. For then the phrase "cut off from the earth" would have been used (as in Prov. 2:22 and often). The idea is that the person who ate leaven (Ex. 12:15) or was not circumcised (Gen. 17:14) was excluded from the community of God's people because they had broken or despised the covenant which made them His people. But there is no record of Israel keeping a list of 'cut off from Israel' Israelites and excluding them from keeping the feasts. So we conclude this means that God would consider such persons as cut off from His people. He would do the cutting off, and not men. In His book, they were "cut off". But there was no legal nor practical mechanism provided to Israel to manage the 'cutting off from Israel' of those who despised the covenant. The cutting off was done in God's eyes, in Heaven's record, and the Israelites were intended to continue to fellowship with such persons at the feasts. This is a strong argument for an open table, and for not seeking to make church excommunication the equivalent of this cutting off of the disobedient from the people of Israel. This explains why being "cut off from Israel" is the punishment stated for doing things which man could not see and judge- secretly breaking the Sabbath (Ex. 31:14), eating peace offerings whilst being unclean (Lev. 7:20- for how were others to know whether someone had touched the unclean, or was experiencing an unclean bodily emission), eating meat with blood still in it (Lev. 17:10,14), not adequately humbling the soul (Lev. 23:29), not keeping Passover (Num. 9:13), being presumptuous (Num. 15:30,31- only God can judge that), not washing after touching a dead body (Num. 19:13,20). This is why Lev. 20:6 makes it explicit that "I [Yahweh personally] will set My face against that person, and will cut him off from among his people". It is Yahweh who does the cutting off and not men (also 1 Sam. 2:33). Here, being cut off from the people meant 'bearing his sin'- at the last day, before God.


Num 9:14 If a foreigner lives among you, and desires to keep the Passover to Yahweh according to the statute of the Passover, and according to its ordinance, so shall he do. You shall have one statute, both for the foreigner, and for him who is born in the land’-
The Passover was open to Gentiles who wished to identify themselves with Israel, and to see in the Red Sea deliverance something of their own deliverance from this world. We should not be exclusive but rather inclusive when it comes to the breaking of bread service which was typified by the Passover. It has been argued that the breaking of bread is the equivalent of the Jewish Passover, and Ex. 12:48 says that only the circumcised could eat of it. Here are a few comments:
- Whatever interpretation we wish to place upon Ex. 12:48, we have to reconcile it with the above evidence for the openness of the Lord Jesus with regard to His table fellowship, using it to bring people to Him, rather than as a test of fellowship or intellectual / moral purity of understanding or living.
- Peter ate with the uncircumcised- and got into trouble with the Judaist brethren exactly because the Law had forbidden the uncircumcised from eating the first Passover (Acts 11:3). The Jews had put a [very large!] hedge around this law by forbidding Jews from eating with Gentiles period. Yet Peter was taught that this was wrong- and he ate with Gentiles, it seems even before they were baptized. But the point is, he had been taught by the vision that all the old Mosaic category distinctions of clean / unclean, circumcised / uncircumcised, had now been ended. It seems this was as large a challenge to the church in the 1st century as it is in the 21st.
- Although the Passover and memorial meeting are related, the relation is at times by way of contrast rather than only similarity; e.g. in the first Passover, the families were to provide a lamb; whereas in the antitype, the Lord Jesus is the lamb of Divine and not human provision. The Paschal lamb of God takes away the whole world's sin, rather than just providing blood for the temporal redemption of Israel's firstborn, etc.
- Circumcision under the new covenant doesn't refer to anything outward, visibly verifiable. For now "he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart in the spirit, and not in the letter" (Rom. 2:29)- seeing we can't judge the secret things of others' hearts, how can we tell who is circumcised in heart or not? The 'sealing' of God's people today, the proof that they are the Lord's (2 Tim. 2:19), is not anything external, but the internal matter of being sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13; 4:30), or being sealed with a mark in the mind / forehead, as Revelation puts it (Rev. 7:3; 9:4).
- The Gentiles in Israel, circumcised or not, could keep the feast of unleavened bread (Ex. 12:17-20) which was related to the Passover.
- If Ex. 12:48 is read on a literalistic level, i.e. that only the circumcised could eat the Passover, this would surely mean that no female could eat it? Yet this was not the case.
- It's Num 9:14 which speaks in more general terms of whether or not a Gentile could partake of the Passover- and here it's made clear that yes he/she could, and no mention is made of being circumcised: "And if a stranger shall sojourn among you, and will keep the Passover unto the Lord; according to the statute of the Passover, and according to the ordinance thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one statute, both for the stranger, and for him that is born in the land".
- Commands that were intended for subsequent generations often include the kind of rubric we meet in Ex. 12:14,17: "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial, and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord: throughout your generations ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever... therefore shall ye observe this day throughout your generations by an ordinance for ever". But we don't meet that 'throughout your generations' with regard to the uncircumcised men not being allowed to eat it.
- Israel were told specifically that the Passover lamb must be roasted and not boiled (Ex. 12:9 uses two distinct words for 'boiled' and 'roasted'.). But the word used in Ex. 12:9 for "boiled" is that used in Dt. 16:7 of how the Passover could be boiled, although many Bible versions misleadingly translate the word there as "roast". The translators need not have feared such contradiction. For it is the contradiction of grace. Here we have another example of where the Passover regulations given in Exodus were specific only to that time at the exodus. Thus a foreigner was not allowed to eat of that sacrifice, but foreigners were welcome to eat of the Passover later. 
- So my suggestion is that the command of Ex. 12:48 that no uncircumcised could eat of the Passover, and that the Gentiles amongst the people should be circumcised if they wanted to eat it, was specific to that first Passover. As Israel and the mixed multitude that went with them sat in Egypt under threat of losing their firstborn sons, they could find salvation by keeping the Passover and entering into covenant with God through circumcision. Both Jewish tradition and the implication of Moses not circumcising his sons is that the Jews in Egypt weren't circumcised; yet "all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised" (Josh. 5:5). Implication would be that many were circumcised in order to keep the first Passover according to the command given them in Ex. 12. We could therefore take Ex. 12:48 as a specific command for those who kept the first Passover to be circumcised, rather than an ongoing principle. The Jewish sage Maimonides (A Guide For The Perplexed Vol. 3 ch. 46) explains: "The reason of the prohibition that the uncircumcised should not eat of it (Exod. xii. 48) is explained by our Sages as follows: The Israelites neglected circumcision during their long stay in Egypt".
- This approach would explain why Num. 9:14 doesn't demand that Gentiles be circumcised to keep future Passovers; why there's no comment that the exclusion of the uncircumcised should be kept "throughout your generations"; and why Ex. 12:50 speaks as if Israel fully obeyed the command about circumcision and Passover eating in a once-off sense when they kept that first Passover. And of course this is the reason for many branches of Judaism welcoming uncircumcised Gentiles to the Passover celebration- for they don't understand Ex. 12:48 to preclude it, but rather Num. 9:14 encourages it.
- This approach also helps answer a difficult question: Why was the lamb or kid kept for four days (Ex. 12:2,6)? If the effects of circumcision take three days to wear off (Gen. 34:25), it could be that the uncircumcised males were intended to circumcise themselves, chose the lamb, and then keep the Passover four days later. Some Jewish commentators claim that God fell in love with Israel whilst she was still in her blood (Ez. 16:6) in that some Jews circumcised themselves at the time of the first Passover- hence one Rabbi speaks of the blood of circumcision and the blood of the first Passover running together.

Num 9:15 On the day that the tabernacle was raised up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, even the Tent of the Testimony, and at evening it was over the tabernacle as if it were the appearance of fire, until morning-
This was "the cloud" which had covered Sinai (s.w. Ex. 24:15,16). Both holy place and most holy were filled. The glory of Yahweh filled the tabernacle when it was erected (Ex. 40:34), as it would later fill the temple (2 Chron. 7:1). But it was God's intention that His glory should fill all the earth; the same words are used in Num. 14:21. The apparently intense manifestation of Himself in a specific place was only a foretaste of what He wished to bring about in "all the earth". And yet Judaism misread this as meaning that His glory was there alone in a specific holy place. They failed to perceive that it was merely a localized foretaste of His intention to make this a universal experience, and the tearing down of the veil at the Lord's death was evidence enough of the progression of this plan. When exiled from the sanctuary, David in his Psalms often perceives that God's glory fills and shall fill all the earth (Ps. 72:19; Hab. 2:14). 

Num 9:16 Thus it was continually. The cloud covered it, and the appearance of fire by night-
See on :21. The “pillar of fire” was only “as it were the appearance of fire” (Num. 9:15) but the record elsewhere speaks of it as “fire”, because that’s what it looked like to the Israelites. The Scriptures speak of how a pillar of fire was with Israel in the wilderness (Ps. 105:39). But actually when it first appeared, it was described as “the appearance of fire” (Num. 9:15). It wasn’t fire, it appeared as fire. And yet it’s spoken of later simply as “fire”. There’s no inspired footnote reminding us that, well, actually, it wasn’t really fire. Likewise “the mount [of Sinai] burnt with fire” (Dt. 9:15). The mountain didn’t catch fire. But that’s how it looked to the Israelites from a distance; and so that’s how it’s described.


Num 9:17 Whenever the cloud was taken up from over the Tent, then after that the children of Israel took their journey; and in the place where the cloud remained, there the children of Israel encamped-
"Took their journey" is Heb. 'to pull up', alluding to the pulling up of tent pegs. The process of moving onward would have been a major, regular upheaval. They would've preferred to stay where they were. And this is a feature of our wilderness journey after our Red Sea baptism; we are always being moved on further, in various ways. And this goes right against the conservativism which is such a major part of the human condition.


Num 9:18 At the commandment of Yahweh the children of Israel travelled, and at the commandment of Yahweh they encamped. As long as the cloud remained on the tabernacle they remained encamped-
The pillar of cloud was vertical as it stood above the tent of meeting when they encamped, but was spread out as a plume over them as they travelled, shielding them from the desert heat. We could deduce from Num. 10:34,35 that the cloud rose up when Moses commanded it to. They journeyed according to Yahweh's commandments to Moses, and it was he who in turn uttered that commandment to Israel and to the cloud: "The cloud of Yahweh was over them by day, when they set forward from the camp. It happened, when the ark went forward, that Moses said, Rise up, Yahweh" (Num 10:34,35). It wasn't therefore the case that Moses had no idea as to when they were to travel, and that he only knew when the cloud lifted up and went forward. It was rather he who commanded the cloud to do that. Representing the Lord Jesus, he was in this sense in a position of control over the Angel within the cloud.


Num 9:19 When the cloud stayed on the tabernacle many days, then the children of Israel kept Yahweh’s command, and didn’t travel-
To not do something, to sit still, perhaps in a place they would rather leave, is presented as active obedience to a commandment. And in a sense our faithfulness to the Lord Jesus and His return is in some way a waiting game. And we are to wait faithfully. 


Num 9:20 Sometimes the cloud was a few days on the tabernacle; then according to the commandment of Yahweh they remained encamped, and according to the commandment of Yahweh they travelled-
The mention of such short stays at one place (here and in :21) was in praise of their obedience. For the work of setting up tents and the tabernacle was significant. To set them up and then immediately have to take them down involved huge effort. There weren't many times during the wilderness journey when this happened; "sometimes" is an example of the generosity of the Divine record towards His people. It was in fact very rare throughout the 38 years wandering.

Num 9:21 Sometimes the cloud was from evening until morning; and when the cloud was taken up in the morning, they travelled: by day and by night, when the cloud was taken up, they travelled-
Ex. 13:21 says that there was a pillar of cloud in the day time and a pillar of fire by night. But at the time of the Exodus, there was a pillar of cloud for the Egyptians and a pillar of fire to give light in the night for the Israelites (Ex. 14:20,24). Could this mean that the meaning of time was collapsed at this time? It was night for the Israelites but daytime for the Egyptians? Is. 42:16, amidst many exodus / Red Sea allusions, speaks of how God makes the darkness light before His exiting people. The many Johanine references to the Lord Jesus being a light in the darkness for His followers would then be yet more elaborations of the idea that the Lord Jesus is the antitype of the Angel that led Israel out of Egypt (Jn. 8:12; 12:35,46). Num. 9:21 says that the pillar of cloud was with the Israelites at night, and sometimes it was taken up in the night and they therefore had to move on. Does this mean that there were times when the meaning of time was collapsed during their journey, and the night was made as the day (perhaps Ps. 139:12 alludes to this experience)? When Yahweh came down on Sinai, He was enveloped in a cloud of fire- suggesting that there was no day and night for Him (Ex. 24:15-17; Dt. 5:22).


Num 9:22 Whether it was two days, or a month, or a year that the cloud stayed on the tabernacle, remaining on it, the children of Israel remained encamped, and didn’t travel; but when it was taken up, they travelled-
There was no prior warning how long they were to remain in any one place; sometimes they stayed a year in one place, at other times they had to travel even by night. This was all at the commandment or word of the Lord. If the Red Sea deliverance represents our baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2), the wilderness journey is like our journey through life towards the promised land of God’s Kingdom. We are led by an Angel, and the path we take is determined by God. Sometimes we are suddenly and unexpectedly asked to move forward; sometimes quickly, travelling by night, as it were; other periods of our lives can appear static and leading nowhere. But in all these situations we are still being led- if we remain obedient to the word of God. They didn’t know their itinerary ahead of time, each day and night they would’ve wondered whether they’d be called to move on or not. Their lives in this sense had no stability. If the Red Sea crossing represents our baptisms then this speaks of our lives afterwards being under God’s leadership and guidance, we in that sense cannot map out how we would wish our journey to be.


Num 9:23 At the commandment of Yahweh they encamped, and at the commandment of Yahweh they took up their journey. They kept Yahweh’s command, at the commandment of Yahweh by Moses-
A very large community of people would’ve been very hard to organize; setting up and breaking camp demanded a huge amount of time and effort. When they only remained a short time, even a day, in one place, the tendency would’ve been to complain ‘Must we really break camp and move on so quickly?’. We too are tempted to resent the unstable nature of our lives; for those whose lives are led by the Spirit, as the Angel was in a sense the Spirit of God (Ps. 104:4), life will never be static and boring; even if we geographically remain in one place all our lives, we are being actively led forward by God’s direction.