Nowadays as well, in the places where polygamy is permitted, few men have anywhere close to a 50-member household. Many of the tribes under Mari control migrated westwards and infiltrated into the Goshen or delta region of northern Egypt." We must therefore say that the description of the giants in Num. Each tribe was given their number that represents their spiritual status. There is another instance in Joshua 7:5 when 36 men died in the battle of Ai where the Midrash in the Talmud[xviii] interprets these 36 men as just one man. around 400 and 500) while the two edges (i.e. 7:17, Num. [vi] See for example Midrash Tanchuma Shemot 5. If you say it was on the first of Elul, could a courier [who carries letters] go in a day and a night [i.e., in just a short time] from Jerusalem to Tyre? Many Egyptians Left Egypt With the Israelites . Naturally, the first impression of a number is that it is literal unless there is strong evidence suggesting otherwise. Question: "How many Israelites left Egypt in the exodus?" Those numbers represent an average annual growth rate of about 2.24 percent which is extremely common. These families could have had 50 or so children each – only one of which would be considered a male firstborn. In the P source, 215 years pass between the time of Abraham's journey to Canaan and Jacob's migration to Egypt (see Gen. 12:4b, 21:5, 25:26, 47:9), and the period spent in Egypt is given as 430 years (Exod. As intriguing as this theory is, it does bump into a major obstacle: the sum-total number. Identifying the Bantu as the descendants of the Israelites extremely important. 1:10). 0, 1 ,8, and 9) are the first two and last two in the ten-digit system. The Torah: Divinely-Inspired or Man-Made? These number of years may have been a way of expressing spiritual/symbolic significance of these individuals. Even if the number of Israelites leaving Egypt was “only” several thousand or tens of thousands that would still be an abnormal growth rate (though within the parameters of realistic growth rate). For Israelites, the chapter describes a foretelling of slavery and servitude in the Americas: “The Lord will send you back in ships to Egypt on a journey I said you should never make again.” In order to seem as a valid contender to these military foes, the Israelites had to inflate their numbers or else bear the military consequences of appearing weak in the face of their adversaries. First of all, even men with multiple women don’t tend to have 50 children. By the year 2000, there were almost 7 billion people alive. After leaving Egypt, the Bible describes the Israelites crossing a deep sea that was miraculously split with walls of water on their right and left. [xvi] Talmud Yerushalmi Taanis 4:5 (23a). Babylonian Captivity, the forced detention of Jews in Babylonia following the latter’s conquest of the kingdom of Judah in 598/7 and 587/6 BCE. [ii] See https://www.thetorah.com/article/ancient-egypt-population-estimates-slaves-and-citizens.  Ex. The second answer given is that the firstborn male would be per household instead of per family. If you say that it was on the first of Ab, the city had not yet been burned. This was a common practice at the time in the Ancient Near East. This lesson is great for any time of the year, in any Children's Ministry, Kids Church, and Sunday School! This theory does have its issues though. There needs to be a strong case for a non-literal interpretation in order to consider it. Overview: Challenging the literal interpretation of 600,000 leaving Egypt. Exodus 12:40 declares that the Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years. These numbers (i.e. After going through the evidence for both sides we will give possible explanations for a non-literal interpretation and also see if this approach fits with conventional Orthodox theology. Your comment “This growth is unfathomable from a historical perspective” concerning the Hebrew growth rate of roughly 200 to 2M in 430 year is in itself unfathomably ignorant! Adding to this confusion, is the lack of a coherent answer to this question. You guys are comical. (A note on the Hyskos and Joseph’s Marriage, p.1) . 200, 300, 600, and 700). When the waters went down, they left a layer of dark, rich mud. 1:16), “families” (Josh. 0, 1, 8, and 9) are totally absent from the 24 numbers.. This made it difficult to farm there. (Exodus 13:21-22). The Israelites entered Egypt with 70 men. And one says that there were fifty thousand men, and each and every one was equivalent to the seventy men in the Sanhedrin.”. So, when the Torah says that the tribe of Reuben had 46 eleph (formerly translated as “thousand”) and 500 – it actually means that their tribe had 46 families or units – that each consisted of about 11 to equal in total – 500. , It is for this reason that the eleph as clan/unit theory must resort to a less traditional and less orthodox view.  It should be noted that the promise to Abraham that his descendants would multiply greatly (Gen 15:5) is surely fulfilled by even a much smaller growth rate than the one suggested with a literal 600,000 figure. Throughout the 400 years of bondage, the Israelites lost all their hope and faith in God. 22:21, 30), “oxen” (Isaiah 30:24, Psalm 8:7), and “tribes” (Num. Moreover, the verses throughout Torah that describe the genealogies of the Israelites never count remotely large households – yet alone 50.  It cannot be argued that the “edge” numbers are rounded to the closest thousand, since if that were the case, we would expect to see many more fully rounded “thousands.” But in reality, there actually isn’t even a single rounded thousand! Numbers 3:43 records the census taken of the first-born male children of each family/household (. Jewish archeologists were left scrambling for answers when their DNA analysis of bones found in an ancient grave dating to as much as 6,000 years ago showed that some of the earliest inhabitants of the land of Israel were aryan-looking with fair skin and blue eyes:. Also see The Number of People in the Exodus from Egypt: Decoding Mathematically the Very Large Numbers in Numbers I and XXVI page 208 for a comparison of similar military unit numbers in the Ancient Near East. Ultimately, we haven’t decided whether or not the number 600,000 is literal or not, but we demonstrated the high likelihood of it being a non-literal number and have presented possible explanations for the number. Also see Ex. Joseph was born in 2068 BC, and became governor of Lower (Northern) Egypt in 2038 BC, when the 7 years of plenty started. The chances of these numbers being absent in 24 total numbers is extremely unlikely. Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, as I commanded thee, in the time of the month Abib: for in the month Abib thou camest out from Egypt. Farmers did not have to worry that floods would destroy crops or farms. Moreover, the several-million population of the Jews during the Second Temple era could have fulfilled this promise (but see Deut. 1:5, Deut. Moses tells the Israelites that they will conquer the Canaanites, yet only slowly over many generations “lest the wild beasts multiply upon you” to inhabit the abandoned cities. Well, that’s how the word is translated in many biblical verses. These hundreds (in change) within the count of each of the tribes eventually add up to equal five thousand, turning the eleph from 598 to 603. The captivity ended in 538 BCE, when the Persian conqueror of Babylonia, Cyrus the Great, gave Jews permission to return to Palestine. 12:40 f.), making a total of 645 years before the Exodus. Yet the sum-total is 603 eleph (plus 550 change). Another big issue with this explanation is that the verse mentions nothing of this. 10:36, 31:4, 31:5, Joshua 7:3, 1 Sam. The Holy Temple was destroyed millenia ago, but Conservative and Orthodox Jews still acknowledge the three-fold division of ancient Israel into Kohanim, Leviim and Yisraelim. That is in line with what is written:“In the eleventh year, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came to me“ (Ezek.26.1). They marched out defiantly in full view of all the Egyptians, 4 who were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them; for the Lord had brought judgment on their gods(5 The Israelites left Rameses and camped at Sukkoth. This is why Pharaoh told the Israelites to dwell in Goshen so they can dwell with their own … The 10 plagues of Egypt described in the Bible book of Exodus were 10 disasters that God brought on Egypt when Pharoah refused to let the Israelite nation leave. An Intellectual Journey Through Belief in Judaism and Torah Theology. Also, the number 600,000 is brought in multiple contexts suggesting that it is literal. So how many Israelites did leave Egypt if we don’t take the 600,000 number literally? Pharoah's heart and mind were so determined to keep the Israelite people in bondage that the Egyptians suffered great tragedy. 37. Giving scriptural-friendly and archaeological-friendly alternatives to the common notion of the mass exodus from Egypt. So the descendants of Jacob were there for 215 years, before the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt. 12:40 suggests the Israelites were in Egypt for 430 years (see as well Genesis 15:13). 10:22). This eleph as clan or military unit theory is actually well supported from the mathematical equation we have made earlier. What we are left with is a pile of staggering evidence that the Torah itself hasn’t intended for such a large population. 38:25-26. This makes 22,000 firstborn males to be born in just two years to be extremely unlikely (remember that 22,000 firstborn male births would mean many more thousand regular births). It is unlikely that they were merely scared of their superior stature in height since archaeology shows little difference between Canaanite height and the universal height at the time. [x] Even if these Canaanite population estimates are tremendously off of reality, there’s little chance that the Canaanites numbered more than a million. This explanation of numbers signifying a spiritual status may explain other numbers, like those given as the long lifespans to early mankind (see here). Many kings or scribes would inflate/exaggerate the numbers of their military populations. It doesn’t limit the census to only those born after the Exodus. [i] The number is put at around 600,000 men aged between 20 and 60. This is just an example of Gematria while the significance of the other Gematrias may not be known to us and why each tribe was assigned a certain number. On a similar note, the Israelites are described as being outnumbered by the Canaanites and needed divine assurance to gain morale to fight the superior armies of the Canaanites. THE RATIONAL BELIEVER © 2021. Many Jews flee to Egypt and a possible fourth deportation to Babylon 562 BCE Release of Jehoiachin after 37 years in a Babylonian prison. [iv] 1,800 years later, by the year 1800, the world population was estimated at almost 1 billion. If we were adamant to make interpret this figure literally, then perhaps we can say that the Israelites multiplied exceedingly fast. , A very intriguing theory is the translation of eleph as “clan,” “family,” or “unit.”[xv] Traditionally, the Hebrew word eleph has been translated as “thousand.” But what if we change the meaning of eleph to mean clan, family, or unit. Even by a generous estimate, their population comes nowhere close to a million, yet alone several million. The Torah, in multiple places, describes a vast number of Israelites leaving Egypt and traveling the Wilderness. If there were truly 2 or 3 million Hebrews in Egypt, that would constitute about a quarter or a full half of the Egyptian population. Thus, the escape of the Israelites from Egypt may be said to represent history in the accepted, contemporary meaning [though many scholars questions whether even this much took place historically]; that this was brought about by divine interference, and was so experienced by Israel, gives the tale of liberation an additional faith dimension. Then thunder and hail and fire streamed down on the ground of Egypt. Either way, the point we make remains the same no matter which chronology we use. Indeed.  There are two possible answers to this but both seem unlikely. We will briefly examine these options. Currently among Muslims it is about 2.5%. A similar explanation is the theory of Gematria. Also see https://jewishbelief.com/genesis-historical-error/ for a discussion of full chapters of Torah being a possible error. How long were the Israelites in Egypt | … Archaeology as well only supports a low number. [xvi] . We can also explain the verse in a different manner that fits with the Hebrew wording and is actually the translation by many famous bible translations (https://www.biblestudytools.com/exodus/1-9-compare.html). 38:26. 10:19, Isaiah 60:22, Micah 5:2), “divisions” (Num. Trang tin tức online với nhiều tin mới nổi bật, tổng hợp tin tức 24 giờ qua, tin tức thời sự quan trọng và những tin thế giới mới nhất trong ngày mà bạn cần biết The sum-total just doesn’t work out with the eleph as clan/unit theory. But here the new king of Egypt sensed in their numbers a threat to his national security and thus decided to deal “shrewdly” with them (Exod. But since there is no theological mandate to take the figure literally, plus all the evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to believe in a miniature Exodus. 12:37, Num. But this too is unrealistic for several reasons. The Torah says, “A mixed multitude (erev rav) went up with them [out of Egypt].”12 The commentators explain that these were converts who were awestruck by G‑d’s miracles and desired to place their lot with the Israelites. Exodus 15:27 describes the Israelite travel to a particular desert oasis that boasted seventy date palms to feed the starving Israelites. Only in the region of Goshen where the Israelites stayed, there was no hail. Many other kings-lists of that time and era also give an insanely long number of years to various early kings. The Hebrew word eleph once had multiple meanings and depending on context it was translated differently.. In 1 Samuel 6:19 it’s written, “And He smote of the people seventy men, fifty thousand men.”, “Rabbi Abbahu and Rabbi Elazar disagree over the interpretation of the verse. Of each family/household ( how many israelites left egypt in 2031 BC, and 700 ) 5:2. 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