Community Discussions

Find answers, ask questions, and connect with our
community around the world.

Home Forums Evidence for Biblical miracles The population of the Israelites during Exodus Reply To: The population of the Israelites during Exodus

  • Thomas Donlon

    February 13, 2022 at 10:30 am

    Hi Michele,

    These are the scriptures I was using to argue for a large population of Israelites which the Biblical text indicates.

    Exodus 23:30 points out that the Israelites needed to increase in population to fully control the promised land.

    So sometimes in a complex situation, much depends on which data we look at. Often in science some data points are discounted as “outliers.”

    Unfortunately sometimes we don’t successfully integrate all the arguments in a correct way. There was also a tremendous amount of discussion on this website in regards to how long the Exodus was … when was the starting point? In any case we can be biased and favor one scripture over another. At times God has allowed certain textual manuscripts to become corrupted in some way or another. People then have to decide what to believe as they see different manuscripts offering different numbers or using different words.

    Typically these differences are not of theological consequence, but we can extrapolate the importance to be of immense importance. And so sometimes people “major in the minors” or overlook the weightier matters of the law. Jesus had to point out to those criticizing his disciples for various things that even David ate food that the scripture designated was for the priests. (Yes I jumped from the idea of a flexible understanding of the text to a flexible understanding of the purpose of Biblical laws etc. Joab used a wise woman to put forth a difficult scenario to David by having a woman complain that her two sons got in a fight and one killed the other. The law demanded that the other son would be killed. But one could see other issues at work. Relatives wanted to seize her inheritance. What if the son who killed the other was more fighting in self-defense? The scripture didn’t say that… just bringing that up.)

    Another Proverb points out that the first to plead his case seems right, and then the question gets more complicated when the other side of the story is heard.

    A lot has been written by scholars on the problem(s) of some big numbers in the Old Testament. To me it probably isn’t of huge theological importance. Occasionally, the simplest way to interpret something isn’t the correct one. Job and his friends struggled with the problem of evil. The simplest argument was that God would not do any wrong and God was behind Job’s suffering therefore Job was being punished for sins he committed. Job’s friends made that argument and Job got frustrated with God and so on.

    Job’s friends, though zealous for God, were not making the best argument and didn’t fully understand the situation. I don’t adequately understand exactly what happened to account for every number that we read in scripture. What is “realistic” gets complicated when miracles are inserted. And the Exodus account in scripture in replete with miracles. David in Psalms talks about the plenty of rain the Israelites got till they entered the promised land. And then the manna situation is also amazing and I don’t know how all that transpired.

    So the whole scriptural account amazes me and we can take it at face value on faith and benefit from that understanding. We can also try to reconcile all the scriptures with each other and with a larger historical context and this requires even more knowledge. This can when things are finally pieced together the right way lead to an even deeper understanding of how God works and this requires much more humility on our part and understanding. It eventually leads to a better understanding of ancient history.

    However, we are so limited in time that God isn’t requiring each of us to have perfect understanding in all areas that relate to every part of scripture. We might get zealous for God at times but then fail to follow His instructions to treat everyone with respect. This is in a sense “compromising” See 1st Peter 3:15 as just place we are commanded to act such.

    You are not in any way that I see Michele being disrespectful but I’m just bringing out a reminder that it is necessary to not hyperfocus on details of scripture and then end up doing as so many Christians often do, which is get judgmental towards those who don’t see everything as we do. Gotta run