|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
9:15-23 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, Ps 48:14. All the children of God shall be led by the Spirit of God, Ro 8:14. He will direct the paths of those who in all their ways acknowledge him, Pr 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.
Verse 15. - On the day that the tabernacle was reared up. Here we are sent back again to the great day of Israel's sojourn at Sinai, when God took visible possession of his dwelling in the midst of them (Exodus 40:34). Everything after that was but preparatory to the approaching departure, and therefore is narrated not in any order of time, but either as it referred back to the first day of the first month, or forward to the twentieth day of the second month. The cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony. The testimony was the decalogue written on the two tables of stone, and enshrined within the ark, the moral law which lay at the heart of Judaism. The tent of the testimony was the holy of holies in which the ark dwelt (see on Numbers 10:11; 18:2). The exact meaning of the words מִשְׁכָּז לְאֹהֶל הָעֵדֻח is disputed, or the rather significance of the לְ with which the phrase "tent of the testimony" is appended to the word "tabernacle" (dwelling). Some take it as equivalent in construction to the genitive, "the dwelling of the tent of the testimony;" in which case it would simply mean that the cloud covered the whole tabernacle, the mishcan which enveloped and enclosed the ohel, which again enshrined the ark and the testimony. Others take לְ here in the sense of "at" or "towards," and read, "covered the dwelling, towards the tent of the testimony," i.e., over that part of it in which the testimony was kept. Apart from the strict grammatical question, the comparison of other passages cited (especially Exodus 40:34) seems in favour of the first interpretation, and so apparently the Septuagint and the Targums.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And on the day that the tabernacle was reared up,.... Which was the first day of the first month in the second year of the people of Israel's coming out of Egypt, Exodus 40:1,
the cloud covered the tabernacle, namely, the tent of the testimony; that part of the tabernacle in which the testimony was, that is, where the ark was, in which the law was put, called the testimony; and this was the most holy place; and over the tent or covering of that was this cloud, which settled upon it, as Ben Gersom thinks, after the seven days of the consecration of Aaron and his sons; on the eighth day, when it was said unto the people of Israel, "today will the Lord appear unto you", Leviticus 9:1; "and the glory of the Lord shall appear unto you", Leviticus 9:6; and here the Targum of Jonathan calls this cloud the cloud of glory, because of the glory of God in it; of which see Exodus 40:34,
and at even there was upon the tabernacle, as it were, the appearance of fire until the morning; the same phenomenon, which looked like a cloud in the daytime, appeared like fire in the same place in the nighttime, throughout the whole of it until morning light, when it was seen as a cloud again: this was a token of the presence of God with the people of Israel, of his protection of them, and being a guide unto them by night and day, while in the wilderness; and was a figure of his being the same to his church and people, in the present state of things; see Isaiah 4:5.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Nu 9:15-23. A Cloud Guides the Israelites.
15. 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 Nu 10:29 [Calmet]. The cloud was a visible token of God's special presence and guardian care of the Israelites (Ex 14:20; Ps 105:39). It was easily distinguishable from all other clouds by its peculiar form and its fixed position; for 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 (Le 16:2).
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