Tuesday, March 07, 2006


The other day, while slumming on the comment threads at one of the very bad blogs, I was confronted by a charactar who demanded to know my reasons for casually dismissing the popular notion that 600,000 men of military age stood at Sinai. In a nutshell, they are:

- There's no archeological evidence that 600,000 people (let alone 3 million, counting women and children) lived in the Sinai desert, and no trace of their progress toward Canaan.

- The population of the world in the 12th century BCE is estimated at 50 million with the population of Egypt estimated at between 2 and 5 million. Accepting that 3 million Jews left Egypt, means accepting that the Jewish nation that wandered the desert for 40 years was equal in size to the age's super-power.

- Few armies in the modern world have ever had 600,000 men (In 1967 Israel went to war with just 264,000 soldiers) let alone the ancient world: In the third century BCE, Alexander conquered the known world with less than 100,000 men. Epic battles, like Marathon, involved less than 25,000 people. If Israel had 600,000 men, how could the battle with Amalek or the conquest of Cannan under Joshua possibly be considered miracles?

But fear not, true believers. A lazy blogger like GH might shrug his shoulders and tell you that none of this evidence matters because, after eating a large plate of extra greasy potato kugel, he once "experienced" the 600,000, but I have a better approach. I have found a way to reconcile the Torah's words with what archeologists and historians say is plausible. Look for it after lunch.(I'm having kugel!) Or take your best guesses on the thread.