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Numbers 9:18-22

Context
9:18 At the commandment 1  of the Lord the Israelites would begin their journey, and at the commandment of the Lord they would make camp; as long as 2  the cloud remained settled over the tabernacle they would camp. 9:19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle many days, then the Israelites obeyed the instructions 3  of the Lord and did not journey.

9:20 When 4  the cloud remained over the tabernacle a number of days, 5  they remained camped according to the Lord’s commandment, 6  and according to the Lord’s commandment they would journey. 9:21 And when 7  the cloud remained only 8  from evening until morning, when the cloud was taken up 9  the following morning, then they traveled on. Whether by day or by night, when the cloud was taken up they traveled. 9:22 Whether it was for two days, or a month, or a year, 10  that the cloud prolonged its stay 11  over the tabernacle, the Israelites remained camped without traveling; 12  but when it was taken up, they traveled on.

1 tn Heb “at the mouth of” (so also in vv. 20, 23).

2 tn Heb “all the days of – that the cloud settled over the tabernacle.” “All” is the adverbial accusative of time telling how long they camped in one spot – all. The word is then qualified by the genitive of the thing measured – “all of the days” – and this in turn is qualified by a noun clause functioning as a genitive after “days of.”

3 tn This is the same Hebrew expression that was used earlier for the Levites “keeping their charge” or more clearly, “fulfilling their obligations” to take care of the needs of the people and the sanctuary. It is a general expression using שָׁמַר (shamar) followed by its cognate noun מִשְׁמֶרֶת (mishmeret).

4 tn The sentence uses וְיֵשׁ (vÿyesh) followed by a noun clause introduced with אֲשֶׁר (’asher) to express an existing situation; it is best translated as an adverbial clause of time: “and it was when the cloud was….”

5 tn The word “number” is in apposition to the word “days” to indicate that their stay was prolonged for quite a few days.

6 tn Heb “mouth of the Lord.”

7 tn The construction is the same in the preceding verse.

8 tn “Only” is supplied to reflect the contrast between the two verses.

9 tn The construction in this half of the verse uses two vav (ו) consecutive clauses. The first is subordinated to the second as a temporal clause: “when…then….”

10 tn The MT has אוֹ־יָמִים (’o-yamim). Most translators use “or a year” to interpret this expression in view of the sequence of words leading up to it, as well as in comparison with passages like Judg 17:10 and 1 Sam 1:3 and 27:7. See also the uses in Gen 40:4 and 1 Kgs 17:15. For the view that it means four months, see F. S. North, “Four Month Season of the Hebrew Bible,” VT 11 (1961): 446-48.

11 tn In the Hebrew text this sentence has a temporal clause using the preposition with the Hiphil infinitive construct of אָרַךְ (’arakh) followed by the subjective genitive, “the cloud.” But this infinitive is followed by the infinitive construct לִשְׁכֹּן (lishkon), the two of them forming a verbal hendiadys: “the cloud made long to stay” becomes “the cloud prolonged its stay.”

12 tn Heb “and they would not journey”; the clause can be taken adverbially, explaining the preceding verbal clause.



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