The Statistics of the Exodus (I)

The matters dealt with in our special Moses number have created very great interest and discussion. Naturally, the details of Israel’s departure from Egypt, the epoch making event which was the nucleus of their national memory, have come under consideration, and it has become evident that there are widely dissimilar views on the subject of date, route and statistics. We believe that it will be advantageous to explore these problems thoroughly, and we are therefore proposing to publish special articles written by correspondents who have made certain phases their exhaustive study. Dr. W. J. Young discusses the statistics of the Exodus in this number. J. G. M. Thorne will examine the theories as to the route, and the present writer hopes to deal with the date. —H. A. Thompson

The trustworthiness and accuracy of the figures of the Exodus have recently been again called in question, and Dr. Garstang has been cited as stating in his book, Research in Palestine, that these figures are quite impossible. It may therefore be worth while for the lover of truth to pass the subject under careful review, with the object of getting as adequate a comprehension of its problems as is possible from the data supplied in the Scriptures.

The first and most important element, the element on which all the rest depends, is the total number of the persons who came out of Egypt. Numbers 2:32 gives the number of men over twenty years old as 603,550, without the Levites (v. 33). To this, the basic figure, must obviously be added at least as many women, indeed, most probably more, in view of the then universality of marriage, and the toleration of bigamy and of slavery (Deuteronomy 21:15; Leviticus 25:44-46). Add to this, also, the number of children under twenty, almost certainly quite as numerous as the adults,1 particularly in view of the statement in Exodus 1:12, add also the total number of Levites (Numbers 3:39) with as many females as males, and some estimate of the “mixed multitude,” slaves and camp followers (Exodus 12:38; Leviticus 24:10; Numbers 11:4; Deuteronomy 29:11). The statistics so obtained may be tabulated thus:—

To continue reading this Bible article, click here.

Author: W. J. Young

Keywords: Exodus, Exodus from Egypt, Population of Israel, Population, Size of the children of Israel, numbers, numbering, numbering the children of Israel, counting

Bible reference(s): Exo 1:12, Exo 12:38, Exo 38:26, Num 1, Numbers 2, Numbers 3, Num 4:36, Num 4:40, Num 4:44, Num 4:48, Numbers 26, Num 31:36, Deu 7:7, Deu 10:22, Josh 6:3-4

Source: “The Statistics of the Exodus,” The Testimony, Vol. 8, No. 92, August 1938, pp. 346-53.

Page indexed by: inWORD Bible Software.