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Numbers 9:1-5

Passover Regulations

9:1 1 The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the first month of the second year after they had come out 2  of the land of Egypt:

9:2 “The Israelites are to observe 3  the Passover 4  at its appointed time. 5  9:3 In the fourteenth day of this month, at twilight, 6  you are to observe it at its appointed time; you must keep 7  it in accordance with all its statutes and all its customs.” 8  9:4 So Moses instructed 9  the Israelites to observe 10  the Passover. 9:5 And they observed the Passover 11  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.

1 sn The chapter has just the two sections, the observance of the Passover (vv. 1-14) and the cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness (vv. 15-23). It must be remembered that the material in vv. 7-9 is chronologically earlier than vv. 1-6, as the notices in the text will make clear. The two main discussions here are the last major issues to be reiterated before dealing with the commencement of the journey.

2 tn The temporal clause is formed with the infinitive construct of יָצָא (yatsa’, “to go out; to leave”). This verse indicates that a full year had passed since the exodus and the original Passover; now a second ruling on the Passover is included at the beginning of the second year. This would have occurred immediately after the consecration of the tabernacle, in the month before the census at Sinai.

3 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.

4 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.

5 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.

6 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).

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

8 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.

9 tn Heb “spoke to.”

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

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

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