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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 25, 2021 at 7:07 am

    I found some old notes, not properly formatted, but I will italicise the in-text refs :

    City sizes: Arad, at the time of its destruction, The lower (Canaanite) city of Arad was only destroyed once, during Early Bronze Age II. A series of small Iron Age fortresses were later built on the upper part of the tel. was a big city by Canaanite standards ca. 100 dunams or 25 acres. Early Arad II, Amiran R. and Ilan O., p. 1 (The Israel Exploration Society, 1996). and the only large city in the Negev at the time, Arad, The New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations in the Holy Land, Stern E. ed., p. 80 (The Israel Exploration Society, 1993). with an estimated population of 2000-3000 people. Amiran, p. 1; or an estimate of 1800-2250 people, Living on the Fringe, Finkelstein I., p. 75 (Sheffield Academic Press, 1995). The king of Arad would not have marched his army (of only hundreds of men, not thousands) against the Israelites at Mount Hor if the forces were so hopelessly mismatched (21:1-3, 33:40). The pear-shaped tel of Old Testament Jericho is about 400 m. from N to S and 200 m. wide. Jericho, Illustrated Bible Dictionary, p. 748 (Inter-varsity Press, 1988). Covering an area of about 10 acres, its population also could not have exceeded 2000 people. NIV Atlas of the Bible, Rasmussen C. G., p. 93 (Zondervan, 1989). All the Israelite men of war had to march around the city (Josh 6:3-4). If about 600 000 men marched 10 abreast around a 2 km. route (out of bow shot), the column would stretch for at least 30 km, requiring the leading men to ring Jericho about 15 times before the last rows started marching. Alternatively, if 600 000 men assembled along a 2 km. ring-line, they would stand 150 abreast.

    I am aware there are issues of dating… Arad, for example, was destroyed only once at the end of the Early Bronze Age and was never rebuilt (except for a series of Iron Age forts on the ‘citadel’). Nonetheless, these city sizes are an indication of the population in biblical times.