MemberJanuary 23, 2021 at 8:05 pm
I will just keep adding paras from my 2014 OT project on the Population of the Exodus here for those who would like the complete summary of the options thus far:
Ben Gurion’s Exodus
A radical revision to the population of the Exodus has been offered by the first Prime Minister of the modern state of Israel, David Ben-Gurion.40 While in office in 1960, he gave a lecture before the Press Guild presenting the views that only 600 people wandered with Moses in the wilderness, that the Israelites had been in Egypt for only two generations, and that the majority of the Hebrew nation had never left Canaan.41 His opinions caused a furore in Orthodox Jewry, but Ben-Gurion insisted he spoke as a private individual, defeating a no-confidence motion in the government.42
40 Although wholly secular in his outlook, Ben-Gurion considered the Hebrew Bible to be his nation’s history and made biblical studies mandatory in Israel’s schools. Shimon Reshef, “Ben-Gurion and Public Education,” in David Ben-Gurion: Politics and Leadership in Israel, ed. Ronald W. Zweig (London, UK: Frank Cass, 1991), 263.
41 “Ben-Gurion Claims Only 600 Israelites Had Left Egypt in the Exodus,” Jewish Telegraphic Agency, May 17, 1960, http://www.jta.org/1960/05/18/archive/ben-gurion-claims-only-600-israelites-had-left-egypt-in-the-exodus. He points to the 318 armed men of Abraham’s household (Gen 14:14) as indicating the scale of the Hebrew nation remaining in Canaan relative to the 70 who went into Egypt years later (Gen 46:26-6). David Ben-Gurion, Ben-Gurion Looks at the Bible, trans. Jonathan Kolatch, Ben-Gurion (New York: Jonathan David, 1972), 125.
42 Jewish Chronicle, “Ben-Gurion Amends the Bible: Premier Angers Rabbis,” The Jewish Chronicle: The Organ of British Jewry, May 20, 1960.