How many Israelites left Egypt in the exodus?Question: "How many Israelites left Egypt in the exodus?"
Answer: When the Israelites left Egypt in the exodus, there were “about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children” (Exodus 12:37). The “men on foot” number of 600,000 would have only included able-bodied, military-age men. The people of Israel had been living in Egypt for 430 years (Exodus 12:40). After a lengthy dispute with Pharaoh, during which God brought many plagues on the land of Egypt, Moses led the Israelites away from that land. Scholars believe that the total number of Israelites who left Egypt during the exodus, women and children and old men included, was around 2.4 million people. If we include Egyptians who chose to join the Israelites, the number would be even greater: “Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds” (Exodus 12:38).
In the second year after the Israelites left Egypt, Moses took a census of the men in Israel able to fight—all the able-bodied men age twenty and above from all the tribes except the Levites. The number of warriors was 603,550 (Numbers 1:45–46). The Levites were not counted because God commanded Moses to exclude them from the census (verse 49). Instead of going to war, the Levites were to stay and guard the tabernacle (verse 53).
About 2.4 million Israelites leaving Egypt is a very large multitude, but the number is a reasonable estimate. The ordinary proportion of people fit to go to war in a general population is one in four, and 600,000 x 4 = 2,400,000. We know that, while the Hebrews were in Egypt, they were “fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them” (Exodus 1:7). In fact, the Hebrews were so numerous that the Pharaoh feared that Egypt would be overwhelmed in the event of a slave uprising (verses 8–10).
The original group of Israelites—Jacob’s family who went to Egypt—numbered just seventy people (Genesis 46:27). In 430 years the vigorous and healthy Hebrew race increased to 2.4 million. We have no reason to believe that any of the Israelites stayed behind in Egypt, so we can safely say that 2.4 million is the approximate number of Hebrews who left Egypt in the exodus.
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How many Israelites left Egypt in the exodus?