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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

    Member
    January 25, 2021 at 2:17 am

    Hi Deborah,

    Using an area measurement tool with QGIS (a GIS program) I can easily find 123,000,000 square meters in the Plains of Moab where the israelites camped.

    <sup><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>12</font></font></sup><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them.</font></font>

    <sup><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>13</font></font></sup><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the LORD to the plains of Jericho for war.</font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(Jos. 4:12-13 NIV)</font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>The amount of them that crossed over though was less than the total amount of their fighting men listed in the census. (Perhaps they decided to serve in shifts.) </font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>the clans of Reuben; those numbered were 43,730.</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(Num. 26:7 NIV)</font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>the clans of Gad; those numbered were 40,500</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(Num. 26:18 NIV)</font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>These were the clans of Manasseh; those numbered were 52,700.</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(Num. 26:34 NIV) </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>I estimate half of them lived East of the Jordon which would be</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> 26,350. </font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>Total of those on the far side of the Jordon. who could fi</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>ght</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> according to the census. Total number who could fight according to the census. 110,580. </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>These people’s families </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>and flocks needn’t have assembled to cross over.</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> </font></font>

    Total amount of fighting men in Israel. <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>601,730</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(Num. 26:51 NIV) subtract the </font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>far side soldiers who aren’t here listed as crossing over and we have an interim number of </font></font>491,150 men crossing over with their families. Using your formula to multiply the fighting men by 3 and 1/3 to get a total population we now have a subtotal of 1,637,167 people crossing over. . Add the Levites in this way. Now add Levite (male and females) who are over 1 month old. <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>All the male Levites a month old or more numbered 23,000</font></font><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> </font></font><font face=”Liberation Serif, serif”><font size=”3″>(Num. 26:62 NIV) and the female number is approximately similar. so a total of 46,000 Levites are also crossing over.</font></font>

    <font face=”Liberation Serif, serif”><font size=”3″>Add the Levites into the subtotal crossing over. and now we have 1,683,167. Now add in the males from Reuben, Gad and ½ of Mannaseh (who are traveling without their families).</font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them.</font></font><sup><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>13</font></font></sup><font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″> About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the LORD to the plains of Jericho for war.</font></font>

    <font face=”Arial, serif”><font size=”2″>(Jos. 4:12-13 NIV)</font></font>

    Now we have a total using your ratios (as I understand them) of 1,723,167 by the Jordon getting ready to cross over.

    Now as far as calculating the amount of square meters on the Plain of Moab. It is a tough calculating because we are guessing. Is the Bible giving a general area, or is this a specific line? I didn’t have trouble calculating a hundred million square meters by using an area select tool in QGIS selecting the flat area of the plain. Is there some slight possibility I’m misusing a projection and the program is miscalculating meters? And if so would that yield more meters on the plain or less? Now I calculate 58 meters per person is available.

    I didn’t measure too close to the Jordon river, I figured it was at flood stage. I don’t know how far back that is though. On the other hand the wadis you mentioned, sheep and animal can graze in them. It might just be nice too because they might get to drink and if it was wetter and rain was plentiful there will be a lot to eat there. But I didn’t select the Wadis in the measurement. Now with Google Earth Pro I looked extensively for quite a while at the hills that slope up to the plateau pondering how steep it was. I think much of it is quite suitable for grazing, especially it it was wetter then. There still remains visible bushes. Some spots of grass. There are a lot of interesting looking features on the hills from terrain photos that I can see. I think I can see some tank embankments where Jordon might have erected earthworks to protect their tanks prior to the six day war or whatever wars Jordon fought Israel in. There might be remains of constructed animal pens. These could be just geological features. I’m probably looking at a variety of features that I don’t understand. I’m not saying they did graze animals up on the slopes. Now I wouldn’t want to go racing chariots around on those hills but there is nothing or very little that is excessively steep. But it seems suitable to a shepherd and sheep. Part of it is too steep for modern farming methods (and certianly too rocky). I compared the slope to the West side of the Dead Sea cliffs just to make sure I wasn’t misinterpreting cliffs as gentle hills. Tall al Hammam is being excavated and is linked by archaeologists to Abel Shittim. It is on a fairly steep slope probably chosen as being more defensible.

    It is possible that the area the Israelites camped in was a tiny area within this (if a lesser population model is correct), but the text seems to indicate they were spread out. In doing my measurements I could have selected a larger area on the flatland or larger areas in the sloping region that now have houses. But not wanting to go farther than the locations laid out in the Bible I constrained the measurements to just roughly pick out the available area for camping that is level enough to be under cultivation now. Still I guess when you add in all the flocks and herds along with the people that I suppose would be passing over, the area could be “cozy.” Now I’m not sure if families with flocks tended to keep the animals away from the camp. I suppose they would. In that case they could be camping and have some family members doing a rotating watch of the flocks that are just hanging out grazing in adjacent lands. How far they would want to be from the others—I don’t know. A lot might depend on the resources of the land. Sometimes the Bible notes quarreling between herdsmen arises. Isaac and Abimelich?. Abraham and Lot. Jacob and Esau stayed distant scripture citing grazing concerns. So with the vast amounts of herds and flocks they would have needed good rain conditions which the Bible says God provided.

    I’ll keep an open mind. Maybe I somehow messed up a calculation. I try not to set the bar too low before I start believing scribal errors have occurred. I know they have. Certain scriptures too in the New Testament are hard to follow and some parts I think are later additions. Usually you can see that in the manuscript evidence.

    So if there are errors and substantial rewriting of some events in the Pentateuch due to faded manuscripts I can’t vouch for that. I agree what you said about a missing age is extremely apparent. (Saul’s age?)

    One reason people have wanted to believe the Exodus total was smaller
    was because they couldn’t find a large population in Egypt. I now
    believe the land could have supported a large population. Still, there are indications settlements in the land of Goshen could have provided additional population centers for the Israelites. Internal scriptural evidence suggests fears about the Israelites being numerous. Efforts to kill the boys in Egypt and efforts to have Balaam bring God’s curse on them were undertaken because of that fear.

    If I’m wrong OK. It won’t be the first time. This can be a pear-reviewed Discussion comment. I submit this for considerations, critique and feedback.