Notes & Commentary:
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)