How many left Egypt

Sat, 03/03/2007 - 08:59 -- James Oakley

Exodus says 600,000 (rough numbers). So does Numbers. Some modern scholars try to say it can’t be that simple.

Arguments too and fro will be many – but may I note the contribution that Numbers 3 ought to make?

If (for sake of argument), 600,000 left Egypt
Then half of them would come from families that had a girl as the oldest child, and half of them would come from families that had a boy as the oldest child.
So 300,000 Israelites would come from families that had a boy as the oldest child.

Now suppose that Jacob is typical of the day in having 12 children. (I know – he had daughters too, but let’s keep the maths simple).
That means that a twelfth of those 300,000 would be firstborn boys, and the remainder of the 300,000 would be younger siblings in families whose eldest was a boy.

That means there would be 25,000 firstborn males in the crowd that left Egypt.

There were in fact 22,273. (Numbers 3:43).

Given the approximations involved, that’s close enough for me. Certainly the 600,000 is a plausible figure.

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James Oakley's picture
Submitted by James Oakley on

Thanks Marc - indeed they were.

(Moses was off the scene for 40 years - Acts 7:30. How long the infant-male murdering went on, we don't know. It's possible Pharaoh gave up after a while - we simply aren't told).

Which would point to an even bigger number than 600K leaving Egypt! (22,000 males and over 22,000 females.) That fits with the other detail I overlooked - the survey of 600,000 was only the men 20 years old or more.

Marc Lloyd's picture
Submitted by Marc Lloyd on

Weren't the Egyptians systematically attemppting to kill the new-born Israelite males? Despite the midwives lack of co-operation presumably they had some success? So one would expect more than 50% to be female?

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