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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

  • Thomas Donlon

    January 24, 2021 at 9:23 am

    Hi Kelvin. I’m looking into some of these questions too. Right now I’m pondering Numbers 31 where God told Moses to send out 1,000 men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel to get vengeance on the Midianites for getting the Israelities into idolatry. The tribes of course would send out their best, most eager fighters. And the leaders were surprised and grateful that all their soldiers returned. There is multiple uses of the word thousands in that chapter.

    I’m not sure we know how many chariots Pharaoh sent out. You felt the number he sent out was low.

    So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. (Exod. 14:6-7 NIV)

    I don’t believe Pharaoh thought he was going to need All his best chariots. Since he was just overtaking escaped slaves (not a trained army) the intimidation factor was all he needed. “all the other chariots of Egypt” doesn’t sound like he was skimping in numbers though.

    As for Jericho, walls are real problems. The film Patterns of Evidence: Exodus explains the defenses of the city. Also the book by the same name PATTERNS OF EVIDENCE EXODUS by Timothy P Mahoney with Steven Law has this to say about the defenses of Jericho p 237.

    Excavators found that Jericho was protected by a brilliant defensive system. At is base, there was a stone retaining wall more than 15 feet high with a defensive extension wall of mudbricks rising still higher. Beyond this, there was the rampart, a steep slope covered with a slick surface of white plaster, where attackers would have been exposed to arrows and slings and stones from above. At the top of this rampart was the main city wall, also made of mudbricks. The main city wall was more than 25 feet high and 10 feet thick.

    And then there is the problem you saw dealing with populations being subjected by other populations. The British at one time controlled India. Alexander the Great had a much smaller army than Darius of Persia and yet he defeated them. The Bible relates a reason for Israel being made subject to oppressors. God’s will. War is a strange thing. Even people who don’t believe in God probably realize the truth of Ecclesiastes 9:11. The battle is truly not always to the strong.

    We can keep trying to understand scripture and certainly numbers aren’t always precise or easy to understand. Some numbers at times, I don’t feel are always meant to be taken literally. For example a frequent manner of expression in the Bible is the phrase “ten times” which was used by Job, Jacob, God and Nehemiah. And sometimes when a phrase is used like “for x (number) or (x +1)” whether dealing with sins or things God hates the phrase indicates an open ended number of problems. It doesn’t mean God only hates six no seven things. It indicates that this is all I’m going to mention now, and that the person could go on. David conducted a census. One scripture says 470,000 (men who could fight) in Judah another scripture mentioning the same census said there were 500,000 in Judah. The number for Israel given in the same census varied even more. The number 40 is often used in the Bible. I’m not going to say that every time a judge is said to have reigned 40 years, that the number is ultra precise. Sometimes it might be. I just approach some of these questions with caution and humility.