on Numbers 9 :1
The Lord spake unto Moses - The fourteen first verses of this chapter certainly refer to transactions that took place at the time of those mentioned in the commencement of this book, before the numbering of the people, and several learned men are of opinion that these fourteen verses should be referred back to that place. We have already met with instances where transpositions have very probably taken place, and it is not difficult to account for them. As in very early times writing was generally on leaves of the Egyptian flag papyrus, or on thin laminae of different substances, facts and transactions thus entered were very liable to be deranged; so that when afterwards a series was made up into a book, many transactions might be inserted in wrong places, and thus the exact chronology of the facts be greatly disturbed. MSS. written on leaves of trees, having a hole in each, through which a cord is passed to keep them all in their places, are frequently to be met with in the cabinets of the curious, and many such are now before me, especially in Singalese, Pali, and Burman. Should the cord break, or be accidentally unloosed, it would be exceedingly difficult to string them all in their proper places; accidents of this kind I have often met with to my very great perplexity, and in some cases found it almost impossible to restore each individual leaf to its own place; for it should be observed that these separate pieces of oriental writing are not always paged like the leaves of our printed books; nor are there frequently any catch-words or signatures at the bottom to connect the series. This one consideration will account for several transpositions, especially in the Pentateuch, where they occur more frequently than in any other part of the sacred writings. Houbigant, who grants the existence of such transpositions, thinks that this is no sufficient reason why the present order of narration should be changed: "It is enough," says he, non ignorare libros eos Mosis esse acta rerum suo tempore gestarum, non historiam filo perpetuo elaboratam," "to know that these books contain an account of things transacted in the days of Moses, though not in their regular or chronological order.'
on Numbers 9 :1
Passover at Sinai. This, as being kept in the first month, was prior in time to the numbering of Numbers 1:1 ff, and to the other events narrated in this book. It is, however, recorded here as introductory to the ordinance of Numbers 9:6-14 in this chapter respecting the supplementary Passover; the observance of which was one of the last occurrences during the halt at Sinai.
on Numbers 9 :1
9:1 In the first month - And therefore before the numbering of the people, which was not till the second month, Num 1:1,2. But it is placed after it, because of a special case relating to the passover, which happened after it, upon occasion whereof he mentions the command of God for keeping the passover in the wilderness, which was done but once, and without this command they had not been obliged to keep it at all, till they came to the land of Canaan.