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Jehovah gave these instructions to Moses while he and the rest of the Israelis were on the Sinai peninsula, during the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt: 2-3 “The people of Israel must celebrate the Passover annually on April first,[a] beginning in the evening. Be sure to follow all of my instructions concerning this celebration.”

4-5 So Moses announced that the Passover celebration would begin on the evening of April first, there in the Sinai peninsula, just as the Lord had commanded. 6-7 But as it happened, some of the men had just attended a funeral and were ceremonially defiled by having touched the dead, so they couldn’t eat the Passover lamb that night. They came to Moses and Aaron and explained their problem and protested at being forbidden from offering their sacrifice to the Lord at the time he had appointed.

Moses said he would ask the Lord about it, and this was God’s reply: 10 “If any of the people of Israel, now or in the generations to come, are defiled at Passover time because of touching a dead body, or if they are on a journey and cannot be present, they may still celebrate the Passover, but one month later, 11 on May first,[b] beginning in the evening. They are to eat the lamb at that time, with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of it until the next morning, and must not break a bone of it, and must follow all the regular instructions concerning the Passover.

13 “But anyone who is not defiled, and anyone who is not away on a trip, and yet refuses to celebrate the Passover at the regular time, shall be excommunicated from the people of Israel for refusing to sacrifice to Jehovah at the proper time; he must bear his guilt. 14 And if a foreigner is living among you and wants to celebrate the Passover to the Lord, he shall follow all these same instructions. There is one law for all.”

15 On the day the Tabernacle was raised the Cloud covered it; and that evening the Cloud changed to the appearance of fire, and stayed that way throughout the night. 16 It was always so—the daytime Cloud changing to the appearance of fire at night. 17 When the Cloud lifted, the people of Israel moved on to wherever it stopped, and camped there. 18 In this way they journeyed at the command of the Lord and stopped where he told them to, then remained there as long as the Cloud stayed. 19 If it stayed a long time, then they stayed a long time. But if it stayed only a few days, then they remained only a few days; for so the Lord had instructed them. 20-21 Sometimes the fire-cloud stayed only during the night and moved on the next morning. But day or night, when it moved, the people broke camp and followed. 22 If the Cloud stayed above the Tabernacle two days, a month, or a year, that is how long the people of Israel stayed; but as soon as it moved, they moved. 23 So it was that they camped or traveled at the commandment of the Lord; and whatever the Lord told Moses they should do, they did.


  1. Numbers 9:2 on April first, literally, “on the fourteenth day of the first month” (of the Hebrew calendar). This corresponds approximately to our first day of April.
  2. Numbers 9:11 May first, literally, “on the fourteenth day of the second month” (of the Hebrew calendar).

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