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Numbers 9:2-7

Context

9:2 “The Israelites are to observe 1  the Passover 2  at its appointed time. 3  9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, 4  you are to observe it at its appointed time; you must keep 5  it in accordance with all its statutes and all its customs.” 6  9:4 So Moses instructed 7  the Israelites to observe 8  the Passover. 9:5 And they observed the Passover 9  on the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight in the wilderness of Sinai; in accordance with all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites did.

9:6 It happened that some men 10  who were ceremonially defiled 11  by the dead body of a man 12  could not keep 13  the Passover on that day, so they came before Moses and before Aaron on that day. 9:7 And those men said to him, “We are ceremonially defiled by the dead body of a man; why are we kept back from offering the Lord’s offering at its appointed time among the Israelites?”

1 tn The verb is simply “to do; to make” (עָשָׂה [’asah] in the jussive). It must have the idea here of “to perform; to keep; to observe” the ritual of the Passover.

2 sn For a detailed study note on the Passover, see the discussion with the original institution in Exod 12. The word פֶּסַח (pesakh) – here in pause and with the article – has become the technical name for the spring festival of Israel. In Exod 12 the name is explained by the use of the verb “to pass over” (עָבַר, ’avar), indicating that the angel of death would pass over the house with the blood applied. Many scholarly attempts have been made to supply the etymology of the word, but none has been compelling enough to be accepted by a large number of biblical scholars. For general literature on the Passover, see J. B. Segal, The Hebrew Passover, as well as the Bible dictionaries and encyclopedias.

3 tc The Greek text uses a plural here but the singular in vv. 7 and 13; the Smr uses the plural in all three places.

4 tn The literal Hebrew expression is “between the evenings” (so also in vv. 5, 11). Sunset is certainly one evening; the other may refer to the change in the middle of the afternoon to the late afternoon, or the beginning of dusk. The idea is probably just at twilight, or dusk (see R. B. Allen, TWOT 2:694).

5 tn The two verbs in this verse are identical; they are imperfects of instruction. The English translation has been modified for stylistic variation.

6 tn The two words in this last section are standard “Torah” words. The word חֹק (khoq) is a binding statute, something engraved and monumental. The word מִשְׁפָּט (mishpat) means “judgment, decision,” but with a more general idea of “custom” at its core. The verse is making it very clear that the Passover had to follow the custom and form that was legislated in Egypt.

7 tn Heb “spoke to.”

8 tn The infinitive construct functions as the direct object of the preceding verb (a Hebrew complementary usage), answering the question of what he said.

9 tc The LXX omits this first clause; it also omits “at twilight.”

10 tn In the Hebrew text the noun has no definite article, and so it signifies “some” or “certain” men.

11 tn The meaning, of course, is to be ceremonially unclean, and therefore disqualified from entering the sanctuary.

12 tn Or “a human corpse” (so NAB, NKJV). So also in v.7; cf. v. 10.

13 tn This clause begins with the vav (ו) conjunction and negative before the perfect tense. Here is the main verb of the sentence: They were not able to observe the Passover. The first part of the verse provides the explanation for their problem.



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