Numbers 9:1
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,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
IX.

(1) In the first month of the second year.—The celebration of the Passover, as recorded in this chapter, preceded in order of time the numbering of the people recorded in Numbers 1, and the other events which were connected with it. No provision had hitherto been made for the celebration of the Passover in the wilderness. A special injunction was, therefore, required for this purpose. Had it not been for the rebellion of the people, the next Passover after the original Egyptian Passover would have been celebrated in the land of Canaan, and it was for that one only that provision had been made (Exodus 12:25).

Numbers 9:1. The Lord spake — Or had spoken; for he now relates what happened before the numbering of the people, the consecration of the Levites, and other matters recorded in the former chapters. In the first month — This proves that it was before the numbering of the people, which was not till the second month, Numbers 1:1-2.

9:1-14 God gave particular orders for the keeping of this passover, and, for aught that appears, after this, they kept no passover till they came to Canaan, Jos 5:10. It early showed that the ceremonial institutions were not to continue always, as so soon after they were appointed, some were suffered to sleep for many years. But the ordinance of the Lord's Supper was not thus set aside in the first days of the Christian church, although those were days of greater difficulty and distress than Israel knew in the wilderness; nay, in the times of persecution, the Lord's Supper was celebrated more frequently than afterward. Israelites in the wilderness could not forget the deliverance out of Egypt. There was danger of this when they came to Canaan. Instructions were given concerning those who were ceremonially unclean, when they were to eat the passover. Those whose minds and consciences are defiled by sin, are unfit for communion with God, and cannot partake with comfort of the gospel passover, till they are cleansed by true repentance and faith. Observe with what trouble and concern these men complained that they were kept back from offering to the Lord. It should be a trouble to us, when by any occasion we are kept back from the solemnities of a sabbath or a sacrament. Observe the deliberation of Moses in resolving this case. Ministers must ask counsel of God's mouth, not determine according to their own fancy or affection, but according to the word of God to the best of their knowledge. And if, in difficult cases, time is taken to spread the matter before God by humble, believing prayer, the Holy Spirit assuredly will direct in the good and right way. God gave directions in this case, and in other similar cases, explanatory of the law of the passover. As those who, against their minds, are forced to absent themselves from God's ordinances, may expect the favours of God's grace under their affliction, so those who, of choice, absent themselves, may expect God's wrath for their sin. Be not deceived: God is not mocked.Passover at Sinai. This, as being kept in the first month, was prior in time to the numbering of Numbers 1:1 ff, and to the other events narrated in this book. It is, however, recorded here as introductory to the ordinance of Numbers 9:6-14 in this chapter respecting the supplementary Passover; the observance of which was one of the last occurrences during the halt at Sinai.CHAPTER 9

Nu 9:1-5. The Passover Enjoined.The passover kept in the wilderness on the fourteenth day of the first month, Numbers 9:1-5. By those who were then unclean or journeying, the fourteenth day of the second month, Numbers 9:6-12. They who otherwise neglect it to be put to death, Numbers 9:13. Proselytes are to observe the same, Numbers 9:14. God manifests himself to Israel in a cloud by day, and fire by night, by which they knew when and where to camp, Numbers 9:15-23.

In the first month; and therefore before the numbering of the people, which was not till the second month, Numbers 1:1,2. But it is placed after it, because of a special case relating to the passover, which happened after it, and which is here related, upon occasion whereof he mentions the command of God for the keeping of the passover in the wilderness, which was done but once, and without this command they had not been obliged to keep it at all till they came to the land of Canaan. See Exodus 12:25.

And the Lord spake unto Moses in the wilderness of Sinai,.... While the people of Israel were encamped there, before they took their journey from thence:

in the first month of the second year, after they were come out of the land of Egypt: the following order was given some time in the first month of the second year of Israel's departure out of Egypt; the precise day is not mentioned, it must be in the beginning of the month before the fourteenth day of it, in which the passover is ordered to be kept, according to the first institution of it; very probably immediately after the setting up of the tabernacle, and the consecration of Aaron and his sons; and it must be before the numbering of the people the fixing of their standards, the appointment of the Levites, and the dedication of them; since the order for the numbering of the people was on the first day of the second month, Numbers 1:1, but the account of them was postponed to this time, in order to give a relation of an affair which was not finished until the second month, and therefore the whole is laid together here:

saying, as follows.

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,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. in the first month] The month preceding the census (Numbers 1:1).

Verse 1. - In the first month of the second year. Before the census, and all the other events recorded in this book, except in part the offerings of the princes (see Numbers 7:1). There was, however, an obvious reason for mentioning together the two passovers, the second of which immediately preceded the departure from Sinai. Numbers 9:1The Passover at Sinai, and Instructions for a Supplementary Passover. - Numbers 9:1-5. On the first institution of the Passover, before the exodus from Egypt, God had appointed the observance of this feast as an everlasting statute for all future generations (Exodus 12:13, Exodus 12:24-25). In the first month of the second year after the exodus, that is to say, immediately after the erection of the tabernacle (Exodus 40:2, Exodus 40:17), this command was renewed, and the people were commanded "to keep the Passover in its appointed season, according to all its statutes and rights;" not to postpone it, that is, according to an interpretation that might possibly have been put upon Exodus 12:24-25, until they came to Canaan, but to keep it there at Sinai. And Israel kept it in the wilderness of Sinai, in exact accordance with the commands which God had given before (Exodus 12). There is no express command, it is true, that the blood of the paschal lambs, instead of being smeared upon the lintel and posts of the house-doors (or the entrances to the tents), was to be sprinkled upon the altar of burnt-offering; nor is it recorded that this was actually done; but it followed of itself from the altered circumstances, inasmuch as there was not destroying angel to pass through the camp at Sinai and smite the enemies of Israel, whilst there was an altar in existence now upon which all the sacrificial blood was to be poured out, and therefore the blood of the paschal sacrifice also.

(Note: If we take into consideration still further, the fact that the law had already been issued that the blood of all the animals slain for food, whether inside or outside the camp, was to be sprinkled upon the altar (Leviticus 17:3-6), there can be no doubt that the blood of the paschal lambs would also have to be sprinkled upon the altar, notwithstanding the difficulties referred to by Kurtz, arising from the small number of priests to perform the task, viz., Aaron, Eleazar, and Ithamar, as Nadab and Abihu were now dead. But (1) Kurtz estimates the number of paschal lambs much too high, viz., at 100,000 to 140,000; for when he reckons the whole number of the people at about two millions, and gives one lamb upon an average to every fifteen or twenty persons, he includes infants and sucklings among those who partook of the Passover. But as there were only 603,550 males of twenty years old and upwards in the twelve tribes, we cannot reckon more than about 700,000 males as participants in the paschal meal, since the children under ten or twelve years of age would not come into the calculation, even if those who were between eight and twelve partook of the meal, since there would be many adults who could not eat the Passover, because they were unclean. Now if, as Josephus affirms (de bell. jud. vi. 9, 3), there were never less than ten, and often as many as twenty, who joined together in the time of Christ (οὐκ ἔλασσον ἀνδρῶν δέκα...πολλοί δέ καὶ σὺν εἴκοσιν ἀθροίζονται), we need not assume that there were more than 50,000 lambs required for the feast of Passover at Sinai; because even if all the women who were clean took part in the feast, they would confine themselves as much as possible to the quantity actually needed, and one whole sheep of a year old would furnish flesh enough for one supper for fifteen males and fifteen females. (2) The slaughtering of all these lambs need not have taken place in the narrow space afforded by the court, even if it was afterwards performed in the more roomy courts of the later temple, as has been inferred from 2 Chronicles 30:16 and 2 Chronicles 35:11. Lastly, the sprinkling of the blood was no doubt the business of the priests. But the Levites assisted them, so that they sprinkled the blood upon the altar "out of the hand of the Levites" (2 Chronicles 30:16). Moreover, we are by no means in a condition to pronounce positively whether three priests were sufficient or not at Sinai, because we have no precise information respecting the course pursued. The altar, no doubt, would appear too small for the performance of the whole within the short time of hardly three hours (from the ninth hour of the day to the eleventh). But if it was possible, in the time of the Emperor Nero, to sprinkle the blood of 256,500 paschal lambs (for that number was actually counted under Cestius; see Josephus, l. c.) upon the altar of the temple of that time, which was six, or eight, or even ten times larger, it must have been also possible, in Moses' time, for the blood of 50,000 lambs to be sprinkled upon the altar of the tabernacle, which was five cubits in length, and the same in breadth.)

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