We read in the book of Numbers (1:45-47) this statement:
“So were all those that were numbered of the Children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. But the Levites after the tribe of their fathers were not number among them.”
These verses imply that the number of fighting people of the Israelites was more than six hundred thousand. This number excludes the men, women and children of the Levi Tribe and all the women of the other tribes of the Israelites and all those men who were under twenty years of age. If we include the number of all the people of Israelites excluded from this enumeration, their total should not be less than twenty-five hundred thousand. This statement is wrong for five reasons.
THE FIRST REASON.
The total number of men and women of the Israelites was seventy at the time of their arrival in Egypt. This is evident from Genesis 46 : 27, Exodus 1 ;5 and Deuteronomy 10: 22. The greatest possible period of their stay in Egypt is 215 years. It can not be more.
It has been mentioned in the first chapter of the Book of Exodus that the sons of the people of Israel were killed and their daughters left to live, 89 years before their liberation from Egypt.
Now keeping in mind their total number at their arrival in Egypt, the duration of their stay in Egypt, and the killing of their sons by the King, if we assume that after every twenty five years they doubled in number and their sons were not killed at all, even then their number would not reach twenty-five thousand in the period of their stay in Egypt let alone twenty-five hundred thousand. If we keep in view the killing of their sons, this number becomes a physical impossibility.
THE SECOND REASON:
It must be far from the truth that their number increased from seventy to twenty-five hundred thousand in such a short period, while they were subjected to the worst kind of persecution and hardships by the king of Egypt. In comparison, the Egyptians who enjoyed all the comforts of life did not increase at that rate.
The Israelites lived a collective life in Egypt. If they are believed to have been more than twenty-five hundred thousand it would be a unique example in human history that a population of this size is oppressed and persecuted and their sons killed before their eyes without a sigh of resistance and rebellion from them. Even animals fight and resist to save their offspring.
THE THIRD REASON:
The Book of Exodus chapter 12taken with them the cattle herds and flocks, and the same book also informs us that they crossed the river in a single night; and that they used to travel every day and that Moses used to give them verbal orders to march.
THE FOURTH REASON:
If the number were correct it would necessitate that they had a place for their camp large enough to accommodate twenty-five hundred thousand of people along with their herds of cattle. The fact is that the area surrounding Mount Sinai, and the area of the twelve springs in Elim are not sufficiently large to have accommodated the Israelites and their cattle.
THE FIFTH REASON:
We find the following statement in Deuteronomy 7:22.
“And the Lord, thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee”.
It is geographecally true that Palestine extended nearly 200 miles in length and ninety in breadth. Now, if the number of the Israelites was really twenty-five hundred thousand, and they had captured Palestine after killing all its residents all at once, how was it possible for the beasts to have overcome the number of the Israelites, because had they been much less in number than stated, even then, they would have been enough to populate such a small area.
Ibn Khaldun, also refuted this number in his “Muqaddimma” Saying that, according to the researches made by the scholars, the gap between Israel and Moses is only three generations. It is unbelievable that in a period of only three generations they could increase to that number.
In view of the above arguments, it is obvious that the People of the Book “(The Christians and the Jews do not possess any arguments to prove their claim that the books of the Pentateuch were written or conveyed by the Prophet Moses.
It is, therefore, not binding upon us to believe in these books until irrefutable arguments to support their claim.