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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

    February 19, 2021 at 9:43 am

    A telling comment by Yohanan Aharoni about the limits on the population moving and camping as one throughout the Sinai and Negev:

    [169] But if the Israelites wandered in the wilderness for a whole generation… is it conceivable that they always formed one compact group in their peregrinations and in their encampments? Even if their number had not exceeded a few thousand, equivalent to the present Beduin population of the Sinai desert, there was not a single spot which could have supported them more than a few days, not even Ain el-Qudeirat, the richest of the oases in northern Sinai.

    Aharoni, Yohanan. “Kadesh-Barnea and Mount Sinai.” In God’s Wilderness: Discoveries in Sinai, by Beno Rothenberg, 115–82. London: Thames and Hudson, 1961.

    In observing the inadequacy of the biblical facilities to support a population larger than a few thousand even under optimal conditions, the options are 1. to suppose that the logistics of travel and subsistence were spectacularly assisted in every aspect, or 2. to radically revise the population numbers as they appear in the biblical texts. The latter option is clearly offensive to some who stake their faith on an inerrant scripture. The statement of faith for many churches and the HFS also requires inerrancy for the biblical ‘autographs’, that is, the original texts which we do not have. If the numbers have at some stage been corrupted, this is very unfortunate but does not significantly damage the status of the Hebrew Bible as an authentic historical account.