Numbers 9:10
Speak to the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet he shall keep the passover to the LORD.
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(10) In a journey afar off.—Or, on a distant journey. This is one of the ten passages in the Pentateuch in which one or more words are marked with certain dots, known as puncta extraordinaria. In this case these dots stand over the word rehokah, distant. The Rabbinical explanation is that the word is either spurious, as not being found in Numbers 9:13, or is not to be interpreted in its literal signification, but in a qualified sense.

Numbers 9:10. Unclean — or on a journey — Under these two circumstances the Hebrews think that other hinderances of like nature are comprehended; as if one be hindered by a disease, or by any other such kind of uncleanness; which may seem probable both from the nature of the thing, and the reason of the law, which is the same in other cases.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.Certain men - Probably Mishael and Elizaphan, who buried their cousins, Nadab and Abihu, within a week of this Passover Leviticus 10:4-5. 8-14. Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the Lord will command concerning you—A solution of the difficulty was soon obtained, it being enacted, by divine authority, that to those who might be disqualified by the occurrence of a death in their family circle or unable by distance to keep the passover on the anniversary day, a special license was granted of observing it by themselves on the same day and hour of the following month, under a due attendance to all the solemn formalities. (See on [67]2Ch 30:2). But the observance was imperative on all who did not labor under these impediments. Under these two instances the Hebrews think that other hinderances of like nature are comprehended; as if one be hindered by a disease, or by any other such kind of uncleanness; which may seem probable both from the nature of the thing, and the reason of the law, which is the same in other cases, and from the application of this rule to other cases, 2Ch 30.

Afar off; in some remote country, whence he can not return sooner. Speak unto the children of Israel, saying,.... Not to the men only that came to Moses for advice, but to the body of the people; for the answer of the Lord concerned them all, and carried in it a rule to be observed in the like case, and others mentioned, in all succeeding ages, as long as the passover was an ordinance of God:

if any man of you; or "a man, a man", or any private man; for, according to the Jewish writers, this law only respects private persons, as those were who were the occasion of its being made:

or of your posterity; or "in your generations" (b), or "ages"; which shows that this law respected future times, and not the present case only:

shall be unclean by reason of a dead body; see Numbers 9:6; Maimonides (c) says, this only respects uncleanness by a dead body, and not uncleanness by any creeping thing; for such as were unclean by them might sacrifice, though a private person, and eat the passover at evening with purity, when he had been cleansed: yet he says elsewhere (d), that such that had issues, and menstruous women, and those that lay with them, and women in childbed, were unclean, and were put off to the second passover; and so the Targum of Jonathan here adds,"or that has an issue, or a leprous person:"

or be in a journey afar off; which, according to Ben Gersom, was fifteen miles; so in the Misnah (e), and the commentators on it:

yet he shall keep the passover of the Lord; not the first, but second, according to the directions given in Numbers 9:11.

(b) "generationibus vestris", Pagninus, Montanus; "in aetatibus vestris", Drusius. (c) In Misn. ut supra, (c. 7. sect. 6.) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 93. 2.((d) Hilchot Corban Pesach, c. 6. sect. 1.((e) Pesachim, c. 9. sect. 2. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib.

Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, If any man of you or of your posterity shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey afar off, yet {d} he shall keep the passover unto the LORD.

(d) And cannot come where the tabernacle is, when others keep it.

10. Provision is made both for accidental uncleanness, and also for absence on a journey. This is evidently intended to be exhaustive, and was understood in later days to include all good reasons which might prevent anyone from keeping the festival. Cf. 2 Chronicles 30:2; 2 Chronicles 30:15.

of your generations] i.e. of future generations.Verse 10. - If any man of you or of your posterity. The particular case of these men is made the occasion for a general provision for all succeeding times. Shall be unclean by reason of a dead body, or be in a journey. It is somewhat strange that these two cases only were provided for: a man otherwise unclean (as, e.g., in the case described Leviticus 15:13), even if actually recovered, was unable to take advantage of the little passover. Probably the real reason of it is to be found in this, that both the far journey and' the burial of the dead would presumably be works of charity. Afar off. This word, רְחֹקָה, is one of ten in the Pentateuch distinguished in the Hebrew Bibles with puncta extraordinaria, for some unknown and probably trifling reasons. The Rabbins ruled that it meant a distance of fifteen miles or more from the temple at sunrise of the fourteenth of Abib. The 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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