Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. The Lord. The 15 first verses might be placed at the head of this book. God gave orders to celebrate the first passover in the desert, about the 14th of the first month, in the second year of liberty, soon after the consecration of the tabernacle. (Calmet) — This is the only passover which the Jews are recorded to have celebrated during the 40 years’ sojournment; as they were not allowed to celebrate it, without having circumcised all the males of their family, (Exodus xii. 43,) which they could not do in the wilderness (His cuni, &c.) being uncertain how soon they would have to remove by the direction of God. (Haydock) — First month. Hence, Moses does not always observe the order of time, as he spoke (chap. i.) of what happened in the second month. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 2. Make the Phase. That is, keep the paschal solemnity, and eat the paschal lamb.
Ver. 3. In the. Hebrew, “between the two evenings,” Exodus xii. 6. Septuagint, “towards the evening, in its season, according to its law, and determination,” sugkrisin, (ver. 14,) suntaxin, “arrangement;” in both places we have justifications. (Haydock) — God’s law is so called, because nothing can be done right without it. (Menochius) — The merit of human actions depends on their conformity with the will of God; (Du Hamel) and when he gives directions, we must comply exactly. (Haydock)
Ver. 5. In Mount. Hebrew, “desert (or mountainous country) of Sinai,” Exodus xiv. 3. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Some. Hebrew, “and there was men,” a solecism, rejected by the Samaritan and Arabic copies. (Houbigant) — Man. That is, by having touched, or come near, a dead body, out of which the soul was departed. (Challoner) — Such were forbidden to offer any sacrifice, Leviticus xxii. 4. Yet they could not refrain from burying the dead. (Philo, de vita Mos. 3.) As, therefore, the action was far from being criminal, and they had partaken of the paschal lamb without restriction in Egypt, and heard that God required all to offer this sacrifice, under pain of excision, (ver. 13,) they reasonably wished to know how they were to act, particularly as the 14th of Nisan alone was appointed for this sacrifice, and they could not be purified in less than seven days. If the law, by which they were excluded from the camp, (chap. v. 2,) were already published, they consulted Moses by some friend. The Rabbins suppose, that those who buried Nadab and Abiu, are meant. (Calmet) — The common people did not properly offer a sacrifice, though they might kill the victim. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 10. Unclean, in what manner soever. (Philo) — Nation; or at a great distance, whether in the country or out of it. The Rabbins say 15 miles, or leagues, (Calmet) which make 45 miles. (Haydock) — Septuagint, all such were bound to observe the passover in the second month, as the whole people did under Ezechias; (2 Paralipomenon xxx.) though the Rabbins falsely pretend, that when the greater part of the people were under this predicament, the law did not oblige, and they might eat the paschal lamb in the month of Nisan. Women were not bound to make the second Phase, Exodus xii. 19. (Calmet) — This festival was never transferred beyond the second month. (Menochius)
Ver. 14. Stranger. Both the Jews who lived at a distance from the promised land, and those of other nations who had embraced their religion, were obliged to observe this law; while the uncircumcised were absolutely excluded. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. A cloud, and fire, alternately covered the tabernacle of the covenant, which was 30 cubits long and 15 broad. The pagans, perhaps, hence took occasion to accuse the Jews of adoring the clouds. Nil pręter nubis & cœli Numen adorant. (Juvenal, Sat. xiv.) (Calmet)
Ver. 16. By day. These words are omitted in the Hebrew; but the context shews that they must necessarily be supplied; as they are in the Septuagint. The same cloud assumed different appearances. (Calmet)
Ver. 20. For, &c. Hebrew, “and so it was when the cloud was days of number upon the tabernacle; by the mouth of the Lord they staid in their tents,” &c. Days of number, yamim mispar, most probably means a few days; (see Deuteronomy iv. 27,) though Louis de Dieu would translate “a full year;” as yamim, according to him, signifies, ver. 22. It is understood, however, by others, to denote a week, a month, a year, or an indeterminate number of days, Genesis xxiv. 55.
Ver. 23. Watches, like sentinels, observing the signal of the cloud; and regulating the time and course of their marches by its direction. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The precept of the pasch is renewed: the unclean, and travellers, are to observe it the second month: the camp is guided by the pillar of the cloud.
1 The Lord spoke to Moses* in the desert of Sinai, the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, in the first month, saying:
2 *Let the children of Israel make the Phase in its due time,
3 The fourteenth day of this month in the evening, according to all the ceremonies and justifications thereof.
4 And Moses commanded the children of Israel that they should make the Phase.
5 And they made it in its proper time: the fourteenth day of the month at evening, in Mount Sinai. The children of Israel did according to all things that the Lord had commanded Moses.
6 But behold some who were unclean by occasion of the soul of a man, who could not make the Phase on that day, coming to Moses and Aaron,
7 Said to them: We are unclean by occasion of the soul of a man. Why are we kept back, that we may not offer in its season the offering to the Lord among the children of Israel?
8 And Moses answered them: Stay, that I may consult the Lord what he will ordain concerning you.
9 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
10 Say to the children of Israel: The man that shall be unclean by occasion of one that is dead, or shall be in a journey afar off in your nation, let him make the Phase to the Lord,
11 In the second month, in the fourteenth day of the month, in the evening, they shall eat it with unleavened bread and wild lettuce:
12 They shall not leave any thing thereof until morning, *nor break a bone thereof, they shall observe all the ceremonies of the Phase.
13 But if any man is clean, and was not on a journey, and did not make the Phase, that soul shall be cut off from among his people, because he offered not sacrifice to the Lord in due season: he shall bear his sin.
14 The sojourner also, and the stranger, if they be among you, shall make the Phase to the Lord, according to the ceremonies and justifications thereof. The same ordinance shall be with you, both for the stranger, and for him that was born in the land.
15 *Now on the day that the tabernacle was reared up, a cloud covered it. But from the evening there was over the tabernacle, as it were, the appearance of fire, until the morning.
16 So it was always: by day the cloud covered it, and by night as it were the appearance of fire.
17 And when the cloud that covered the tabernacle was taken up, then the children of Israel marched forward: and in the place where the cloud stood still, there they camped.
18 At the commandment of the Lord they marched, and at his commandment they pitched the tabernacle. *All the days that the cloud abode over the tabernacle, they remained in the same place:
19 And if it was so that it continued over it a long time, the children of Israel kept the watches of the Lord, and marched not,
20 For as many days soever as the cloud staid over the tabernacle. At the commandment of the Lord they pitched their tents, and at his commandment they took them down.
21 If the cloud tarried from evening until morning, and immediately at break of day left the tabernacle, they marched forward: and if it departed, after a day and a night, they took down their tents.
22 But if it remained over the tabernacle for two days, or a month, or a longer time, the children of Israel remained in the same place, and marched not: but immediately as soon as it departed, they removed the camp.
23 By the word of the Lord they pitched their tents, and by his word they marched: and kept the watches of the Lord, according to his commandment by the hand of Moses.
1: Year of the World 2514, Year before Christ 1490.
2: Exodus xii. 3.
12: Exodus xii. 46.; John xix. 36.
15: Exodus xl. 16.; Numbers vii. 1.
18: 1 Corinthians x. 1.