Numbers 9In the first month - And therefore before the numbering of the people, which was not till the second month, Num 1:1,2. But it is placed after it, because of a special case relating to the passover, which happened after it, upon occasion whereof he mentions the command of God for keeping the passover in the wilderness, which was done but once, and without this command they had not been obliged to keep it at all, till they came to the land of Canaan. They came - For resolution of their difficulty. An offering - Which if we neglect, we must be cut off, and if we keep it in these circumstances, we must also be cut off. What shall we do? Unclean or in a journey - Under these two instances the Hebrews think that other hindrances of like nature are comprehended; as if one be hindered by a disease, or by any other such kind of uncleanness; which may seem probable both from the nature of the thing, and the reason of the law which is the same in other cases. A stranger - Who is a proselyte. Namely, the tent of the testimony - Or, the tabernacle above the tent of the testimony, that is, that part of the tabernacle in which was the testimony, or the ark of the testimony; for there the cloudy pillar stood. This was an evident token of God's special presence with, and providence over them. And this cloud was easily distinguished from other clouds, both by its peculiar figure and by its constant residence in that place. Fire - That they might better discern it and direct themselves and their journeys or stations by it. Had it been a cloud only, it had scarce been visible by night: And had it been a fire only, it would have been scarce discernable by day. But God was pleased to give them sensible demonstrations, that he kept them night and day. Was taken up - Or, ascended on high, above its ordinary place, by which it became more visible to all the camp. The motion or stay of the cloud is fitly called the command of God, because it was a signification of God's will and their duty. The charge - That is, the command of God, that they should stay as long as the cloud stayed. When the cloud abode - This is repeated again and again, because it was a constant miracle, and because it is a matter we should take particular notice of, as highly significant and instructive. It is mentioned long after by David, Psa 105:39, and by the people of God after their captivity, Neh 9:19. And the guidance of this cloud is spoken of, as signifying the guidance of the Blessed Spirit, Isa 63:14. The Spirit of the Lord caused him to rest, and so didst thou lead the people. And thus, in effect, does he guide, all those, who commit their ways unto the Lord. So that they may well say, Father, thy will be done! Dispose of me and mine as thou pleasest. Here I am, waiting on my God, to journey and rest at the commandment of the Lord. What thou wilt, and where thou wilt: only let me be thine, and always in the way of my duty.
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