MemberJanuary 21, 2021 at 12:21 am
Despite an orderly progression, both census accounts have some mathematical oddities: most obviously that all tribal totals and clan subtotals appear in round hundreds even though supposedly accounting for every male over a certain age.7 Flinders Petrie was the first modern commentator to note that the distribution of the ‘hundreds’ digits appears contrived. “There is not a single round thousand, there is not a single 100, 800, or 900; and the greater part of the numbers fall on 400 or 500”.8 These round hundreds and their unexpected concentration between 200 and 700 suggests the totals are not random as might be expected for a thorough census.
7 Only the totals for Gad in Numbers 1, Reuben in Numbers 26, and two Levite clans in Numbers 4 are rounded not to hundreds but tens.
8 Researches in Sinai, 210. The figures of 22,000 Levite males in the first census and 23,000 in the second are the only tribal totals given in round thousands (Num 3:39; 26:62).