Passover in the Desert

Numbers 9:1-14

One year after the exodus from Egypt, God tells the people they must celebrate Passover. It is the beginning of their second year in the wilderness. On the fourteenth day of the first month, they perform the Passover sacrifice as commanded, but not everyone is able to participate. Some members of the community had become impure due to contact with the dead, and ask how they might be able to fulfil their own obligations in the Passover sacrifice. Moses brings their question before God, who tells them those who, through no fault of their own, are not able to attend the communal sacrifice on the fourteenth of the first month, may perform it one month later. If, however, he was able to attend and did not, such a person is punishable by excision.


The Israel Bible notes that while the people celebrated Passover, the holiday of freedom, their freedom was not yet complete, as they had not yet arrived in the Promised Land. People are only truly free when they live under their own rule. Thus, each year at the Passover seder, the words “Next year in Jerusalem” are recited.


Virtual Classroom Discussion

The date in this story indicates that it took place chronologically prior to the events described in the previous chapters. Why do you think it appears here in the text, where it is “out of order”?

Comments ( 10 )

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  • Laura Ferko

    Passover is probably the most significant Feast of the Lord, it reminds me of the lyrics to the song; There to my heart was the Blood applied, glory to His Name. Without the Blood’s application to the doorpost of our heart we can’t move forward to any of the other feast days.
    I teach on a Facebook live broadcast, as I was studying this evening God had me to stumble across this, I wish I had the finances to purchase the Bible right now, but I’m so blessed and moved by what He’s allowing me to learn. Nisan is definitely the beginning of the year, that’s what God said. Man tries to change things all the time, and they give so many reasons why, but the reasons don’t matter. Tonight I had to repent for following along blindly and celebrating it as most do, as Rosh Hashanah, but the Word does not teach that, and I cannot go by any mans assumptions. If God didn’t say it I don’t want to follow.
    Thank you for publishing truth on here. I pray you will keep it that way.
    Blessings, Laura

  • Lorraine C Evans

    Throughout scripture G_d’s people are told to rehearse, always remember, and never forget what G_d has done for Israel. G_d is beyond time and chronology.

  • Herman Arentsen

    The Book of Numbers starts with the 2nd month of the 2nd year after the Exodus, but Pesach must be celebrated the the 14nd of the first month. Why yet here ? i think to stress the importance of the Feast and also to remember the great and mighty deeds of HaShem in leading His People out of slavery. Tora is not necessarily chronological. It is a Book of Faith. When things are described in different order there's a meaning behind it. That doesn't say that the order of Torah is purely random.
    I also think that this is not only stressing the importance of the past, but also the importance to celebrate in future times when we will be in "the promised land". (לשנה הבאה ב'רושל'ם )

  • Angela B

    I think this date appears since Pesach is the most important date in the Hebrew calendar, but besides, it was the 2nd time Yisrael was going to celebrate it, hence Yahweh directed the writer of Numbers (who is most probably Moshe) to indicate it for emphasis for the later generations like myself and all of you here on The Israel Bible website. It think therefore that its appearance is not "out of order."

  • Sheila

    The concern here through these instructions is for Passover to be accessible to as many as possible since it is an appointed time to commemorate their deliverance from bondage to freedom through the blood of the lamb resulting in their salvation.

  • Ken

    The time of events in Numbers is not chronological in various areas. Compare Exodus 40:2 with Numbers 1:1, there is a gap of a month. That missing month is very important. Numbers begins in the 2nd month recounting Moses numbering the people and then providing many other details about the tribes and Levites etc… in subsequent chapters.
    But Chapter 9:1 & verse 15 of this portion shows a clear connection to Exodus 40:2 and the first month of Nisan (נִיסָן‎). Also, chapter 7:1 clearly connects to Ex 40:2 and then describes the 12 special days of sacrifices for the dedication of the altar and possibly leading up to that 2nd Passover. Possibly we see the events of a) 1st of Nisan for the setting up of the Tabernacle, b) 12 special days for dedicating the altar, 3) Moses then receives instructions from the Lord in the Tabernacle (7:89), then d) the 2nd Passover is celebrated on the 14th.
    However, perhaps the order of events is as follows. The tabernacle is raised a) on the 1st, b) the Passover is held on the 10th-14th followed by c) the 12 days of dedication and then d) the Lord speaks to Moses in the Tabernacle (which might connect 7:89 directly with 1:1). This second order is approximately a month.
    The above conclusions are not written in stone. Only the 10 words were written in stone.

    • Diana Brown

      Also Adonai tells Moshe in Numbers 9:2 to let Bnei Yisrael keep the Pesach at the appointed time. Every Pesach every year you live on the earth is important to your spirit and soul to keep the feasts of the Lord. So unless the people were unclean, they were cut off from the community if they neglected Pesach.
      Naturally the people feared becoming unclean due to their dead loved ones around this time. It was good that this group asked Moshe why they could not keep the feast when the death of a loved one defiled them.

    • Shirley Anne

      The above conclusions are not written in stone. Only the 10 words were written in stone.
      Now that’s hilarious 🤣

  • Diana Brown

    Because the Lord told Moses, “life is in the blood” and “there is no remission of sin without the shedding of innocent blood to atone for the one committing sin, transgression and trespasses due to the iniquity hidden in their hearts” the Blood Covenant is timeless and always the way back to the Lord no matter when sin occurs. In this age of time, we know there are moments of truth which come to us about our conduct and we cannot go forward until we repent, repair, and seek the Lord’s Spirit on how to press on. Time stops for us until we right ourselves and return from darkness to light.

    • Diana Brown

      I also think that Aaron and His Sons and Moses were counting the rosh chodesh (new moon) of each month so they would not miss the times and seasons and Biblical Feasts of the Lord, Shabbat, Pesach, Weeks, First Fruits, Rosh HaShanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot. Time has a way of sneaking up on people who aren’t observing the Feasts of the Lord. They were given to the Hebrews to be shared with all mankind. Since we know there is only One True and Living God, we know His Feasts are for all who would worship Him regardless of ethnicity.

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