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Biblical Math


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Among the numerous contradictions in the Bible are many passages that baffle the minds of those who struggle to understand them with reason. The contradictions I am referring to involve mathematics. The Bible uses a mathematics system only God can know because Biblical math certainly cannot be understood by mere mortals. For example, I get confused when the Bible claims that one earth year equals a thousand years to God. Could that mean that the seven days of creation were 7,000 years? Every grade school child knows it took the earth millions of years to cool off enough to support life, so maybe one day could be a billion years!


The numbers hardly ever add up in many Bible stories. For instance, how long were the Jews held in bondage? Gen. 15:13 says 400; Ex. 12:40 says 430, a 30-year contradiction. If you took the time and added up the years yourself, you would be surprised to find out that the Jewish captivity lasted 200 years, a figure backed up by the historian Josephus. Exodus 12:40 tells us, "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years." This passage is not saying that the sojourning was done only in Egypt; neither does it say that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt for four hundred and thirty years, but it does say that the sojourning of the children of Israel from when God promised Abraham was four hundred and thirty years. The countdown began with God's promise at Isaac's birth when Abraham was 100 years old.


Promise made to Abraham at Age 100          0 Countdown begins

Jacob born to Isaac at age 60                       60

Jacob 130 years old when he enters Egypt  130

Jews in Egypt                                                 200

Stuck in Desert                                               ­40     

Total years in Sojourn:                                   430


The Vatican copy of the Septuagint renders the same passage:  "The sojourning of the children of Israel which they sojourned in Egypt, and the land of Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years." The Alexandrian version and the Samaritan Bible say the same, also the Talmud. According to Galatians 3:17, it was four hundred and thirty years from the time the promise was made to Abraham to the giving of the law (10 commandments). As the Hebrews did not go to Egypt until 190 years after the promise to Abraham, when Jacob was 130 years old and left in the 4th generation, even 200 years is a stretch because most believe that the giving of the law occurred during the first year in the desert. This is just as confusing as the math trying to figure out Daniels 70 weeks prophecy!


How many Jews entered Egypt? Ex. 1:5 says 70; Acts 7:14 says 75; another contradiction? It took 190 years to increase Abraham's progeny from the time of the promise to 70 or 75 people heading off to Egypt. So how could 70 or 75 people, even with the most prolific reproductive prowess, multiply to approximately 2,400,000 men, women, and children in 190 or even 430 years?


Let's try to figure that out. Numbers 2:32 states that there were 603,550 grown men of Army age alone. Add an equal number of women, children, and aged people. You will probably agree with most Biblical experts who say that the number of people leaving Egypt during the Exodus was approximately 2.4 million. Coincidentally, Egypt's estimated population was 3.5 million, including the Hebrews.   


Numbers 3:43 states that the number of male firstborns among the Jews was 22,273. If there were 22,273 male first-born, then it is logical to assume that there could be the same number of first-born females, meaning there might have been 44,546 mothers. Some may have died, but certainly, there could not have been more than 44,546 mothers. If 44,546 mothers produced a population of 2.4 million, the mothers must have had, on average, about 50 children apiece. Considering they were enslaved and manufacturing bricks, when could they have found the time to accomplish this astonishing feat?


Finally, after all the great plagues, the day came when the "unnamed" Pharaoh gave Moses the word to take the people out of Egypt. In ONE SINGLE DAY (Exodus 12:51), 2.4 million people left Egypt. On this day, Moses got the word out to these people to leave, spoiled the Egyptians by taking their jewelry and other valuables, etc., gathered all their flocks and belongings, and crossed the Red Sea. Forget what you saw in the movie "The Ten Commandments." Instead, visualize two and a half million people marching with carts, and enough flocks, and herds to provide them sustenance for 40 years. This number of people marching in military formation of five abreast (Ex. 13.18) with one yard between each rank would make up a column 280 miles long, and that's not counting the vast number of animals! The first rank would have to travel 280 miles before the last group took off. Yet they left Egypt in ONE SINGLE DAY. Incidentally, the promised land was only 120 miles (about a 6-day walk) away from Egypt. Even at 25 abreast, the first rank would have to travel 56 miles before the last rank took off, and that's not counting the space the herds took up! And they'd have to move along very fast with the 600 chariots in hot pursuit. Considering the plagues killed off all wildlife; where did all these creatures come from?  


The grand encampment of tents to hold this vast assemblage of Jews is estimated at no less than 250,000 tents, each housing ten people. Set one against another, with no intervening space or separating streets, would occupy 1995 acres of ground, a little more than 3 square miles to house 2½ million people. Tight quarters and a lot of tent material, indeed! I wonder where that came from? Assuming roads, grazing space for herds (in the desert, no less), and a need for more elbow room, the grand encampment could not have been less than 16 square miles. How could all these people assemble in front of the 180-foot-long tabernacle and hear Moses' voice without the benefit of a public address system? If they had to go outside the camp to urinate (which was the law), they would have had to walk up to 2 miles (each way) to do so each time they had to go to say nothing of taking out the trash, the carcasses of the thousands of sacrificed animals, deaths, burials, etc., etc. How was all this possible?


Now get ready for this! Numbers 11:30-32 states: "Now a wind went out from the LORD and drove quail in from the sea. It brought them down all around the camp to about three feet above the ground, as far as a day's walk (20 to 25 miles) in any direction." This would involve more than a cubic mile of quail. This would be enough quail to fill forty million railroad boxcars, forming a train about 350,000 miles long! A lot of quail. Over 25 trillion quail, to be sure! A bountiful God indeed.


According to Judges 15:15, Sampson killed 1,000 men in a single day with the jawbone of an ass. I watched some gory movies in my time, and I have never seen anyone, even with machine guns and hand grenades, kill that many people. Further, in Judges 20:16, we are told that 700 men could sling a stone at a hair and not miss, left-handed at that! 


1Kings claims that the Israelites killed 100,000 Syrians in one day. Later, the city wall collapsed and killed 27,000 more. These numbers are astoundingly high. The Battle of Gettysburg, the bloodiest battle of the American Civil War, took place over three days, and even then, only about 50,000 people died on both sides using guns and cannons. One of the bloodiest days in modern history was the first day of the Somme Offensive in WWI, and about 60,000 British soldiers were killed. Also, how exactly does a wall fall on 27,000 people? That is very hard to imagine.


Solomon sacrificed 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep in one week (II Chr. 7:5). 142,000 animals would constitute approximately 845 sacrifices per hour for seven days. It is hard to believe there would have been any animals left in all of Israel after this, not to mention how much the priests had to eat.


Abijah sent 400,000 men into battle against Jeroboam's 800,000 men, a total of 1.2 million men, all Jews of fighting age. This Biblical tale is even more unbelievable than the army's size when they left Egypt! This would represent a Jewish population of at least 5 million people. Those are pretty big numbers when you consider the Roman Empire Army at the height of its most incredible power consisted of 50 legions. A legion comprised between 4,800 and 5,000 men, so we are talking 250,000 men. One might think the Jews were the mightiest warriors on the planet. Today Israel comprises eight and a half million people with an army of 615,000. Abijah and his army ambushed and slew 500,000 children of Israel in one single battle to top things off. A half-million is more than were lost in any single battle of any war in modern history (with machine guns, aerial bombs, grenades, flame throwers, etc.), and even exceeds the number of deaths that resulted from the dropping of two atomic bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima.


I do not doubt that all these mathematical exaggerations were written to "puff" up Hebrew egos. After all, they were ex-slaves and were conquered many times in their history, so I guess a little puffing up is necessary.

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Yeah, a lot of unbelievable numbers there. A lot of these battles and events were never recorded in historical journals. so I would expect, numbers aside, that a number of these stories and events (or all of them) never occurred:  Biblical Fiction 101.

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OMG.  Surely you do not think the bible is errant!!  😆

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You just don't have the holy spirit in you, so aren't reading it the correct way!  You see its all absolutely true, until it's shown to be wrong, then that passage is meant as metaphor.  With this simple method you can claim a complete literal reading, while sidestepping any hard questions by hand waving them away as parables, metaphors or just moral stories.  If the other person seems to have a solid case against the bible, then scream "Context!" at them and you are right by default.

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26 minutes ago, Wertbag said:

You just don't have the holy spirit in you, so aren't reading it the correct way!  You see its all absolutely true, until it's shown to be wrong, then that passage is meant as metaphor.  With this simple method you can claim a complete literal reading, while sidestepping any hard questions by hand waving them away as parables, metaphors or just moral stories.  If the other person seems to have a solid case against the bible, then scream "Context!" at them and you are right by default.

I agree.  You have to understand what those numbers mean in the original Aramaic and Greek.

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