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Numbers 9:1-14

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.

9:6 It happened that some men 12  who were ceremonially defiled 13  by the dead body of a man 14  could not keep 15  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?” 9:8 So Moses said to them, “Remain 16  here and I will hear 17  what the Lord will command concerning you.”

9:9 The Lord spoke to Moses: 9:10 “Tell the Israelites, ‘If any 18  of you or of your posterity become ceremonially defiled by touching a dead body, or are on a journey far away, then he may 19  observe the Passover to the Lord. 9:11 They may observe it on the fourteenth day of the second month 20  at twilight; they are to eat it with bread made without yeast and with bitter herbs. 9:12 They must not leave any of it until morning, nor break any of its bones; they must observe it in accordance with every statute of the Passover.

9:13 But 21  the man who is ceremonially clean, and was not on a journey, and fails 22  to keep the Passover, that person must be cut off from his people. 23  Because he did not bring the Lord’s offering at its appointed time, that man must bear his sin. 24  9:14 If a resident foreigner lives 25  among you and wants to keep 26  the Passover to the Lord, he must do so according to the statute of the Passover, and according to its custom. You must have 27  the same 28  statute for the resident foreigner 29  and for the one who was born in the land.’”

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.”

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

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

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

15 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.

16 tn The verb is simply “stand,” but in the more general sense of waiting to hear the answer.

17 tn The cohortative may be subordinated to the imperative: “stand…[that I] may hear.”

18 tn This sense is conveyed by the repetition of “man” – “if a man, a man becomes unclean.”

19 tn The perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive functions as the equivalent of an imperfect tense. In the apodosis of this conditional sentence, the permission nuance fits well.

20 sn The delay of four weeks for such people would have permitted enough time for them to return from their journey, or to recover from any short termed defilement such as is mentioned here. Apart from this provision, the Passover was to be kept precisely at the proper time.

21 tn The disjunctive vav (ו) signals a contrastive clause here: “but the man” on the other hand….

22 tn The verb חָדַל (khadal) means “to cease; to leave off; to fail.” The implication here is that it is a person who simply neglects to do it. It does not indicate that he forgot, but more likely that he made the decision to leave it undone.

23 sn The pronouncement of such a person’s penalty is that his life will be cut off from his people. There are at least three possible interpretations for this: physical death at the hand of the community (G. B. Gray, Numbers [ICC], 84-85), physical and/or spiritual death at the hand of God (J. Milgrom, “A Prolegomenon to Lev 17:11,” JBL 90 [1971]: 154-55), or excommunication or separation from the community (R. A. Cole, Exodus [TOTC], 109). The direct intervention of God seem to be the most likely in view of the lack of directions for the community to follow. Excommunication from the camp in the wilderness would have been tantamount to a death sentence by the community, and so there really are just two views.

24 tn The word for “sin” here should be interpreted to mean the consequences of his sin (so a metonymy of effect). Whoever willingly violates the Law will have to pay the consequences.

25 tn The words translated “resident foreigner” and “live” are from the same Hebrew root, גּוּר (gur), traditionally translated “to sojourn.” The “sojourner” who “sojourns” is a foreigner, a resident alien, who lives in the land as a temporary resident with rights of land ownership.

26 tn The verb is the simple perfect tense with vav (ו) consecutive. It is therefore the equivalent to the imperfect that comes before it. The desiderative imperfect fits this usage well, since the alien is not required to keep the feast, but may indeed desire to do so.

27 tn The Hebrew text has “there will be to you,” which is the way of expressing possession in Hebrew. Since this is legal instruction, the imperfect tense must be instruction or legislation.

28 tn Or “you must have one statute.”

29 tn The conjunction is used here to specify the application of the law: “and for the resident foreigner, and for the one…” indicates “both for the resident foreigner and the one who….”

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