1 The LORD spoke to Moses in the desert of Sinai. This was during the first month of the second year after the Israelites came out of Egypt. He said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to celebrate Passover at the chosen time. 3 They must eat the Passover meal just before dark on the 14th day of this month. They must do this at the chosen time, and they must follow all the rules about Passover.”
4 So Moses told the Israelites to celebrate Passover. 5 The people did this in the desert of Sinai just before dark on the 14th day of the first month. The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses.
6 But some of the people could not celebrate Passover that day. They were unclean because they had touched a dead body. So they went to Moses and Aaron that day 7 and said to Moses, “We touched a dead body and became unclean. But why must we be kept from offering our gifts to the LORD at the chosen time with the rest of the Israelites?”
8 Moses said to them, “I will ask the LORD what he says about this.”
9 Then the LORD said to Moses, 10 “Tell the Israelites this: It might happen sometimes that you or your descendants cannot celebrate the LORD’S Passover at the right time. Someone might be unclean because they touched a dead body, or they might be away on a trip. They will still be able to celebrate Passover at another time. 11 They must celebrate Passover just before dark on the 14th day of the second month. At that time they must eat the lamb, the bread made without yeast, and the bitter herbs. 12 They must not leave any of that food until the next morning. And they must not break any of the bones of the lamb. They must follow all the rules about Passover. 13 But anyone who is able must celebrate Passover at the right time. If they are clean and they are not away on a trip, there is no excuse for them not to do it. If they don’t celebrate Passover at the right time, they must be separated from their people. They are guilty and must be punished, because they did not give the LORD his gift at the right time.
14 “A foreigner living among you might want to share in the LORD’S Passover with you. This is allowed, but that person must follow all the rules about Passover. The same rules are for everyone.”
The Cloud and the Fire
15 On the day the Holy Tent, the Tent of the Agreement, was set up, a cloud covered it. At night the cloud over the Holy Tent looked like fire. 16 The cloud stayed over the Holy Tent all the time. And at night the cloud looked like fire. 17 When the cloud moved from its place over the Holy Tent, the Israelites followed it. When the cloud stopped, that is the place where the Israelites camped. 18 This was the way the LORD showed the Israelites when to move and when to stop and set up camp. While the cloud stayed over the Holy Tent, the people continued to camp in that same place. 19 Sometimes the cloud would stay over the Holy Tent for a long time. The Israelites obeyed the LORD and did not move. 20 Sometimes the cloud was over the Holy Tent for only a few days. So the people obeyed the LORD’S command—they followed the cloud when it moved. 21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only during the night—the next morning the cloud moved. So the people gathered their things and followed it. If the cloud moved, during the day or during the night, they followed it. 22 If the cloud stayed over the Holy Tent for two days, a month, or a year, the people stayed at that place. They did not leave until the cloud moved. When the cloud rose from its place and moved, they also moved. 23 So the people obeyed the LORD’S commands. They camped when the LORD told them to, and they moved when he told them to. They watched carefully and obeyed the LORD’S commands to Moses.