The first part of this chapter is about keeping the Passover at its appointed time. Of course, there are people who touched corpses and are unclean and could not keep the Passover. They will just have to observe it as those who are traveling observe it. If they don’t observe the Passover, they will be cut off from the rest of the people.
The second part is about the day that the tabernacle was set and a cloud covered it. During the day, it looked like a cloud, but at night it looked like fire. When the cloud covered the tabernacle, the Israelites were to stay put and camp regardless of how long it was there. When the cloud lifted, the Israelites could get moving. This, of course, was God doing this because he couldn’t just tell them to camp or move. Basically, the rest of this chapter is just God playing a really elaborate game of “Red Light, Green Light.”
God instructs Moses to make two silver trumpets for pretty much anything and everything having to do with calling for attention. It depends on whether one or both are blown and I’m assuming that they’re different sizes or in different musical keys or something. I also hope that these instructions were shared with the Israelites because this could get confusing. If both trumpets are blown, the congregation will go to the tent of meeting, but if only one is blown then only the leaders will show up. If one alarm is blown, then the east side camps will hightail it, but if a second alarm is blown, then the south side camps will make tracks. But will the east side camps still also leave or not? This gets confusing. The trumpets are also to be blown when they go to war. Also, they’re blown in celebration for festivals and at the start of the month. They are to be blown over burnt sacrifices. I guess, the way this book is going, it’s just trumpet sounds day and night.
God finally lifted the cloud from the tabernacle so the Israelites could leave. We get an exhaustive, and way too detailed account of what each different group did. I do have one question: What if God lowers the cloud on the tabernacle while they’re taking it down to get moving? Just asking.