9 During the first month of Israel’s second year in the Sinai Desert,[a] the Lord had told Moses 2 to say to the people, “Celebrate Passover 3 in the evening of the fourteenth day of this month[b] and do it by following all the regulations.” 4-5 Moses told the people what the Lord had said, and they celebrated Passover there in the desert in the evening of the fourteenth day of the first month.
6 Some people in Israel’s camp had touched a dead body and had become unfit to worship the Lord, and they could not celebrate Passover. But they asked Moses and Aaron, 7 “Even though we have touched a dead body, why can’t we celebrate Passover and offer sacrifices to the Lord at the same time as everyone else?”
8 Moses said, “Wait here while I go into the sacred tent and find out what the Lord says about this.”
9 The Lord then told Moses 10 to say to the community of Israel:
If any of you or your descendants touch a dead body and become unfit to worship me, or if you are away on a long journey, you may still celebrate Passover. 11 But it must be done in the second month,[c] in the evening of the fourteenth day. Eat the Passover lamb with thin bread and bitter herbs, 12 and don’t leave any of it until morning or break any of the animal’s bones. Be sure to follow these regulations.
13 But if any of you refuse to celebrate Passover when you are not away on a journey, you will no longer belong to my people. You will be punished because you did not offer sacrifices to me at the proper time.
14 Anyone, including foreigners who live among you, can celebrate Passover, if they follow all the regulations.
The Cloud over the Sacred Tent
15-16 As soon as the sacred tent was set up,[d] a thick cloud appeared and covered it. The cloud was there each day, and during the night, a fire could be seen in it. 17-19 The Lord used this cloud to tell the Israelites when to move their camp and where to set it up again. As long as the cloud covered the tent, the Israelites did not break camp. But when the cloud moved, they followed it, and wherever it stopped, they camped and stayed there, 20-22 whether it was only one night, a few days, a month, or even a year. As long as the cloud remained over the tent, the Israelites stayed where they were. But when the cloud moved, so did the Israelites. 23 They obeyed the Lord’s commands and went wherever he directed Moses.
9.1first month. . . Sinai Desert: The book of Numbers begins in the second month of the second year (see 1.1), so 9.1-5 refers to a Passover celebration that had already taken place.
9.3this month: Abib (also called Nisan), the first month of the Hebrew calendar, from about mid-March to mid-April.
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