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

  • Deborah Hurn

    January 23, 2021 at 8:41 pm

    Overview of the Theories (cont.) Last paragraph.

    The point of examining the census listings for patterns of numerical corruption is not to play with the figures until they ‘work’, but to develop an alternate model that respects the parameters of the texts as well as the geophysical limitations of the region and the times. Any historical reinterpretation proposing a population above a few thousand is not sufficiently grounded in reality. A congregation numbering 25,000 or more is out of the question, therefore, no matter how much the mathematical ‘solution’ may appeal. Water sources throughout the Sinai and Negev are usually single springs or small bodies of water trapped in rocks, and, in ancient times, wells along ‘highways’ (Num 20:17; 21:17) and cisterns in settlements (Ex 21:33; Deut 6:11). Vegetation is sparse and generally confined to wadi beds which are dry most of the year; thus pastoral nomads must dig in the wadi beds to access groundwater for their flocks. Even supposing better climate and soil composition in antiquity, a camp numbering even 13,000 people (as for the second-last theory above) with livestock and luggage, defies the logistics of travel, subsistence, hygiene, and communication, as described in the wilderness narratives.