Numbers: Science and History

  1. The Israelite population went from seventy (Exodus 1:5) to several million (over 600,000 adult males) in 400 years. 1:45-46, 26:51
  2. When the tabernacle was set up, it was covered by a cloud during the day and by fire all night. 9:15
  3. God led the Israelites from one camp to the other with a cloud. When the cloud stopped and rested someplace, the Israelites pitched their tents. When the cloud started moving again, the Israelites followed it. 9:16-23
  4. God sends quails to feed his people until they were "two cubits [about a meter] high upon the face of the earth." Taking the "face of the earth" to be a circle with a radius of say 30 kilometers (an approximate day's journey), this would amount to 3 trillion (3x1012) liters of quails. At 2 quails per liter, this would provide a couple million quails for each of several million people.

    Although this story is obviously exaggerated, it may have grown from a grain of truth. Common Quail (Cotumix cotumix) migrate twice a year between Africa and Eurasia, and occasional storm-induced "fallout" could make quail appear to rain from the sky. 11:31

  5. God strikes Miriam with leprosy. (In the Bible, leprosy is caused by the wrath of God or the malice of Satan. 12:10
  6. "They ... cut down ... a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff."
    A single cluster of grapes was so heavy that it took two men to carry it. I guess that's what you'd expect, though, since they were in the land of giants. (See verses 32-33.) 13:23
  7. "And there we saw the giants ... And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight." This statement may have been figurative, hyperbole, typical biblical exaggeration, or an actual description of the sons of Anak, in which case they must have been about 100 meters tall. These are the same giants (the Nephilium) that resulted when the "sons of God" mated with "the daughters of men in Genesis 6:4 Of course, these superhuman god-men should have been destroyed in the flood. So what are they doing still alive? 13:33
  8. Moses hits a rock with his rod and Presto! -- water comes out. 20:11
  9. God sends "fiery serpents" to bite his chosen people, and many of them die. 21:6
  10. God's cure for snakebite: a brass serpent on a pole. 21:8
  11. God has "the strength of a unicorn." Oh heck, I bet he's even stronger than a unicorn. 23:22, 24:8
  12. "He made them wander in the wilderness forty years."
    It took the Israelites 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, yet such a journey, even at that time, would have taken no more than a few weeks. 32:13