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THE EXODUS MIRACLE

My best friend forwarded this e-mail (the bold font) to me 9 September 2002, and something didn't seem "right" about this way of figuring the Exodus Miracle.  Halley's2 was extremely helpful. When the famine (Genesis 41:531) drove the Abrahamic-Isaac-Jacobite family of about the year 702 BC from Palestine to Egypt, they increased over the 430 subsequent years (Exodus 12:40)1 of Egyptian slavery [about 1880-1250 BC1] to about 3 million2 (a population doubling at about every 25 years2). The majority of the Jewish population fled Egypt after the "Passover" night in which all firstborn mammalian males who weren't protected died. The original e-mail is in large, bold font; and commentary is inserted by me.

The e-mail: This is almost overwhelming when you think about it. You MUST read to the end:
 
"Moses and the people were in the desert, but  what was he going to do with them?
 They had to be fed, and feeding 2 or 3 million people requires a lot of food." [True! Two years and two months after fleeing and being in the desert, Moses took a census; and there were 603,550 males 20 years old or older and able to serve in Israel's army...Numbers 1:44-461. Another census 38 years later numbered 601,730...Numbers 26:511.]
 
"According to the Quartermaster General in the Army, it is reported that Moses would have to have had 1500 tons of food each day. Do you know that to bring that much food each day, two freight trains, each at least a mile long, would be required!" [Pissibly true & maybe over-estimated! As of 2 months and 15 days after fleeing Egypt, the Israelites had run out of food and were griping mightily. God told Moses that He would provide meat from Heaven at twilight that one day and bread the following and each morning thereafter...Exodus 16:11-121. So, quail swarmed in that evening. About two quarts of manna (see description Exodus 16:31 & Numbers 11:7-9) per person appeared each morning from that day forward for 40 years, 6 days per week...Exodus 16:16 & 34, Numbers 11:6-9, Joshua 5:121. But for those first two months out of Egypt, subsistence was probably by way of the flocks and herds and unleavened dough they left Egypt with...Exodus 12:341 ] When they started griping mightily again about a desire for meat, the Lord angrily heard and said to prepare to eat meat for a month; a wind from the west drove quail from the sea over them for a month and was a plague of death for those who ate the meat (investigators have identified migratory quail in that area who eat seed toxic for humans...coturnism3).
 
"Besides you must remember, they were out in the desert, so they would have to have firewood to use in cooking the food. This would take 4000 tons of wood and a few more freight trains, each a  mile long, just for one day." [No...there is no biblical indication that they used fires much. They possessed livestock...Exodus 12:38 & 17:31...and probably gathered warmth from the animals at night, or from the continually present pillar of fire at night...Exodus 12:32 & 13:21-221.]
 
"And just think, they were forty years in transit." [True...Exodus 16:341.]
 
"And Oh yes!  They would have to have water. If they only had enough to drink and wash a few dishes, it would take 11,000,000 gallons each day." [Possibly true & maybe over-estimated! It is not alleged that the people actually had to pack/carry the water, just that it would be consumed...whether the water was supplied from natural sources, Divine provision or any other method, the Israelites of the exodus would have consumed a lot of water4. They only went 3 days without water...Exodus 15:221. First, water was found at Marah where the bitterness miraculously became sweet...Exodus 15:22-251. Then on to the 12 springs at Elim ...Exodus 15:271. Then on southeastward to Rephidim to the miracle of water after Moses struck the rock with the divine staff of the Egyptian miracles...water flowed...and again at Kadesh-barnea (now 'Ain Kadees2), the waters of Meribah...Numbers 20:1-131. Kadesh-barnea  may have been a recurring general encampment area2.]

"...and a freight train with tank cars, 1800 miles long, just to bring water!" [Wrong! Transport not needed...see above.]
 
"And then another thing! They had to get across the Red Sea at night. Now, if they went on a narrow path, double file, the line would be 800 miles long" [Try this: double-file, each pair having 1 animal, and a pair every 3 feet forms a column only 94.7 miles long: 3,000,000 divided by 2 is 1, 500,000 ranks times 3 feet length of each rank equals a column 1,500,000 feet long. 1,500,000 divided by 5280 feet per mile means the column could be as little as 284 miles long. 284 miles divided by 15 miles per day is 19 days to cross. If you make the column 60 times wider...120 abreast...is a column 14 miles long. 240 abreast is a 7 mile column, a half day's march of a column no wider than two football fields!] "and would require 35 days and nights to get through. So there had to be a space in the Red Sea, 3 miles wide so that they could walk 5000 abreast to get over in one night." [Wrong! See above.]
 
"But then, there is another problem...............each time they camped at the end of the day, a campground two-thirds the size of the state of Rhode Island was required, or a total of 750 square miles long........ think of it!" [Wrong! If 20 people and 5 animals could...even uncomfortably...camp in 400 square feet (size of a 20x20 bedroom):  3,000,000 divided by 20 equals the number of 400 square foot "packets"...150,000. A square mile is 5280 feet x 5280 feet = 27,878,400 square feet. 150,000 "packets" of land x 400 square feet per packet = 60,000,000 square feet or 2.15 square miles. An encampment 5 times that size is no larger than the Columbia, S. C, USA metropolitan area!]

"This much space for camping."
 
"Do you think Moses figured all this out before he left Egypt? I think not!" [Wrong! Moses, one of the most brilliant, intelligent, and capable men ever born, trusted entirely in the provision of the Lord; and this was a people divinely empowered to obey to a degree and extent that few modern Americans can even begin to imagine! Moses was so confident that he gave the people a farewell address (Deuteronomy 18:14-22) because he knew that God had declared that he, Moses, would not be allowed by God to enter the promised land. (Exodus 12:281)]

"You see, Moses believed in God. God took care of these things for him." [The Bible gives clear indication that none of this was easy. It was hard. None of my "defense" against the Quartermaster's report in any way reduces the magnitude of this 40 year miracle! The people griped and grumbled until Moses had to desperately go to God over and over...and even accept the advice of his visiting father-in-law...Exodus 18:1-271.]
 
"Now do you think God has any problem taking care of all of YOUR needs?"
 

 

References:

  1. New International Version Disciple's Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, 1984.
  2. Halley's Bible Handbook, Revised Edition, 1959, Henry H. Halley.
  3. e-mail from  W. R. W. Mattfield, 1 June 2003 (notifying of link to explanation).
  4. e mail from Steve, 8 July 2003 (modifying info about water needs).

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(posted 28 September 2002; latest adjustment 2 February  2015)