The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The Book of Numbers
In the second year after the escape from Egypt, the Lord gave a message to Moses in the desert of Sinai, in the first month of the year.
The Israelites, he said, must celebrate the paschal feast, now that the time has come round;
it begins with evening on the fourteenth day of this month, and all the ceremonies prescribed for it must be duly observed.
So Moses bade the Israelites keep the pasch,
and when the evening of the fourteenth day came, keep it they did, there in the desert of Sinai. There was no word the Lord gave to Moses, but Israel obeyed it.
But a doubt arose; here were some men who could not keep it that day, because they were defiled by contact with a corpse. And these came to Moses and Aaron
with the complaint, Must we, who are defiled by touch of the dead, be robbed of our opportunity to make the Lord such an offering as the season claims, with the rest of Israel?
And Moses bade them wait till he could find out what was the Lord’s will for them.
Thereupon the Lord gave Moses this message
for the Israelites, If any of Israel’s race, at such times, is defiled by contact with a corpse, or is away on a journey, he must keep pasch in the Lord’s honour
on the fourteenth day of the second month instead; eating unleavened bread and wild herbs with it,
leaving nothing till the morning, breaking no bone of the victim, so as to observe the full paschal rite.
But if anyone who is clean of defilement and not hindered by his travels neglects to keep the pasch, he is lost to his people. Paschal time came, sacrifice to the Lord he would not; he will be held to account for it.
Even aliens that lodge with you or have come to dwell among you must omit no rule of observance when they keep pasch in the Lord’s honour; the law binds citizen and alien alike.✻
On the day when the tabernacle was set up, a cloud overshadowed it; and when evening came, fire seemed to hang over the canopy of it till morning.
So it was continually; by day, cloud hung above it, by night, what seemed like fire;
it was when this cloud left its post over the tabernacle that the Israelites marched on, never encamping again until it settled.
At the Lord’s bidding they marched, at the Lord’s bidding they pitched their tents. There was no moving as long as the cloud hung over the tabernacle;
even if it lingered many days there, they were the Lord’s sentinels, these men of Israel, and must not leave their post
while the tabernacle was in cloud; only at the Lord’s bidding might they pitch their tents, only at his bidding let them down.✻
Sometimes the cloud would only rest there from evening to morning, and move away at dawn, so that they could march at once; sometimes they must wait, before marching, till day too had passed.
And sometimes it would be two days, or a month, or even longer, that the Israelites stayed motionless, because the cloud was still there. Then, once it had lifted, they moved camp.
They must pitch their tents at the Lord’s bidding, march at the Lord’s bidding; the sentinels of the Lord, as his word, given through Moses, had commanded them.
The Holy Bible