Numbers 1: Get Out Your Abacus


God commands Moses to count all the men 20 years and older so they can prepare for war. They are to be counted by tribe.

Reuben - 46,500
Simeon – 59,300
Gad – 45,650
Judah – 74,600 (3 score 14 thousand and 600)
Issachar – 54,400
Zebulun 57,400
Joseph (Ephraim) – 40,500
Manasseh – 32,200
Benjamin – 35,400
Dan – 62,700 (3 score 2,00 and 700)
Asher – 41,500
Naphthali – 53,400

Total – 603,550

 The Levites were not includes in this number. The reason is because the Levites are in charge of the temple, they aren’t part of the army getting ready for war.

In other words:

One year after they left Egypt with 6,000 people – they counted up the men they have who can fight and they now have 603,500 men of fighting age – not including the women and children living in an encampment in the desert.

Why I think these numbers are wrong:

First, the largest city in Egypt at this time probably had 40,000 to 60,000 people in it (Memphis or Thebes). So having an encampment 10 times the size of a huge city isn’t likely.

Second: 603,500 is a city the size of Denver CO. It’s a huge number. And this is only the fighting age men. In reality – to support them and to include the women – you probably had double that so close to 1.2 million people – which is a city the size of Dallas Texas – living in an encampment in the desert.

Third: Even with a really robust sexual propagation program and including the slaves these people probably took with them, it’s unlikely you could get a 100 fold increase of people in 1 year.

What now makes sense about Leviticus

Even if the number of people in the encampment was a fraction of this number, it does explain why they had so many rules about cleanliness. The logistics of keeping feces out of your drinking water and taking away waste and getting clean water and preventing the spread of disease in an encampment of this size would have been enormous.

Moral Lesson Learned:

Always double check your numbers (Numbers 1)