Bible Articles on the Topic of Elep

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Large Numbers in the Old Testament

The exceedingly high numbers of the able-bodied men over the age of twenty conscripted into the armies of Israel, as recorded in Numbers 1:26, continue to trouble modern scholars. The numbers of soldiers in each listing total in excess of 600,000 (603,550 in Numbers 1:46; 601,730 in Numbers 26:51). These numbers of men mustered for warfare demand a total population in excess of 2 million. Indeed, perhaps a population of 3 or 4 or even 5 million might be required to supply a conscripted army of 600,000 able-bodied men over twenty years old. Such numbers are exceedingly large for the times, for the locale, for the desert wanderings, and in comparison to the numbers of the inhabitants of the land of Canaan whom the Israelites set out to conquer.