And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud stayed, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And when the cloud was taken up. . . —Only one instance is recorded of disregard of the Divine direction thus miraculously vouchsafed, viz., in Numbers 14:40-42. It was necessary that the hosts of Israel should be always in a watchful state, and ready to obey at once the intimations given to them of the Divine will, thus affording a striking type and pattern to the Christian Church, and teaching it both collectively and individually to seek and to follow the guidance of its Divine Head, whose promise is “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”Numbers 9:17-19. Was taken up — Or, ascended on high, above its ordinary place, by which it became more visible to all the camp. The motion or stay of the cloud is fitly called the command of God, because it was a signification of God’s will and their duty. The charge — That is, the command of God that they should stay as long as the cloud stayed.Exodus 13:21-22. The cloud did not cover the whole structure, but the "tent of the testimony," i. e. the enclosure which contained the "ark of the testimony" Exodus 25:16, Exodus 25:22, and the holy place. The phenomenon is now again described in connection with the journeyings which are to be narrated in the sequel of the book. Was taken up, or, ascended on high, above its ordinary place, by which it became more visible to all the camp.
then after that the children of Israel journeyed; as soon as they saw the cloud moving upwards, the Levites took down the tabernacle, and each took their post assigned them in the carriage of it, and the priests blew their trumpets mentioned in Numbers 10:2, and the whole camp moved and marched on in their journey:
and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents; when it stopped and remained without any motion, it was a signal to the children of Israel to stop also, and to set up the tabernacle, and pitch their tents about it by their standards, and according to the order of encampment which had been given them.And when the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, then after that the children of Israel journeyed: and in the place where the cloud abode, there the children of Israel pitched their tents.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 17. - When the cloud was taken up. This verse and the following to the end of the chapter are an amplification of Exodus 40:36-38 (cf. Exodus 13:21, 22; Nehemiah 9:12; Psalm 78:14). It would appear from Exodus 13:21 that there was nothing new in the fact of the cloudy fiery pillar directing the movements of the host, but only in the fact of its resting on the tabernacle when in repose. In the place where the cloud abode, or "came down." שָׁכַז. As the tabernacle was taken all to pieces, and its portions widely separated on the march, the cloud could not rest upon it as a signal for halting. We must probably picture to ourselves the cloud rising to some considerable height when it was "taken up," so as to be visible for a great distance, and as settling down again over the spot where the tabernacle was to be set up. In this way the signals given by the cloud would be immediately perceived by a vast multitude.
(Note: The רחקה is marked as suspicious by puncta extraordinaria, probably first of all simply on the ground that the more exact definition is not found in Numbers 9:13. The Rabbins suppose the marks to indicate that rechokah is not to be taken here in its literal sense, but denotes merely distance from Jerusalem, or from the threshold of the outer court of the temple. See Mishnah Pesach ix. 2, with the commentaries of Bartenora and Maimonides, and the conjectures of the Pesikta on the ten passages in the Pentateuch with punctis extraordinariis, in Drusii notae uberiores ad h. v.)
journey, of you and your future families, shall keep the Passover in the second month on the fourteenth, between the two evenings," and that in all respects according to the statute of this feast, the three leading points of which - viz., eating the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs, leaving nothing till the next day, and not breaking a bone (Exodus 12:8, Exodus 12:10, Exodus 12:46), - are repeated here. But lest any one should pervert this permission, to celebrate the Passover a month later in case of insuperable difficulties, which had only been given for the purpose of enforcing the obligation to keep the covenant meal upon every member of the nation, into an excuse for postponing it without any necessity and merely from indifference, on the ground that he could make it up afterwards, the threat is held out in Numbers 9:13, that whoever should omit to keep the feast at the legal time, if he was neither unclean nor upon a journey, should be cut off; and in Numbers 9:14 the command is repeated with reference to foreigners, that they were also to keep the law and ordinance with the greatest minuteness when they observed the Passover: cf. Exodus 12:48-49, according to which the stranger was required first of all to let himself be circumcised. In Numbers 9:14, יהיה stands for תּהיה, as in Exodus 12:49; cf. Ewald, 295, d. ו...ו et...et, both...and.
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