MemberDecember 30, 2020 at 5:27 am
The number of Israelites participating in the exodus is derived from the two censuses conducted at either end of the wanderings period and recorded in the book of Numbers:
Num 1:45-46 JPS And all those that were numbered of the children of Israel by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; (46) even all those that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. [603,550 men of fighting age at Mount Sinai]
Num 26:51 JPS These are they that were numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand and seven hundred and thirty. [601,730 men of fighting age at the Jordan River]
The census of the tribe of Levi is not included in these totals:
Num 1:47 JPS But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not numbered among them.
When estimating the additional numbers of women, children, and elderly men, such figures amount to a population of over 2 million Israelites. Such a figure seems extraordinary for many reasons, chiefly: the birthrate required to reach this population within 4 generations (Gen 15:16); the impossible logistics of movement, function, and communication for such an enormous crowd; and the lack of resources in the Sinai and Negev to support such a population with their flocks and herds.