populations (was Re: brain sizes: Einstein's and women's)

Bob LeChevalier lojbab at lojban.org
Mon Sep 9 09:06:08 EST 2002


Matthew Amsel <matthew.amsel at mail.mcgill.ca> wrote:
>weird thing about those numbers. have you ever looked at a map of that
>desert? given the severe lack of highrise apartments in that era, a
>group of 2 million people would have some people seeing the sea and some
>seeing the jordan river. there just isn't room for them all (unless
>einstein's curved space theories can be meshed with quantum mech. hmm..)

Not to mention that they were "wandering in Sinai" - that many people
wouldn't hardly have had room to wander.

The Bible has its inconsistencies.  We are told the genealogies of the
Levites down to Moses and Aaron in Exodus:
>[16] And these are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations; Gershon, and Kohath, and Merari: and the years of the life of Levi were an hundred thirty and seven years.
>[17] The sons of Gershon; Libni, and Shimi, according to their families.
>[18] And the sons of Kohath; Amram, and Izhar, and Hebron, and Uzziel: and the years of the life of Kohath were an hundred thirty and three years.
>[19] And the sons of Merari; Mahali and Mushi: these are the families of Levi according to their generations.
>[20] And Amram took him Jochebed his father's sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were an hundred and thirty and seven years.
>[21] And the sons of Izhar; Korah, and Nepheg, and Zichri.
>[22] And the sons of Uzziel; Mishael, and Elzaphan, and Zithri.
>[23] And Aaron took him Elisheba, daughter of Amminadab, sister of Naashon, to wife; and she bare him Nadab, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar.
>[24] And the sons of Korah; Assir, and Elkanah, and Abiasaph: these are the families of the Korhites.
>[25] And Eleazar Aaron's son took him one of the daughters of Putiel to wife; and she bare him Phinehas: these are the heads of the fathers of the Levites according to their families.

And we see that Moses and Aaron are of the third generation of
Levites.  There were only 8 grandsons, and the families seemed to be
averaging 2-4 sons, so you would expect the generation of Moses to
have 30-odd great-grandsons, and hence the population of Levites, no
more than one generation beyond Moses, to be no more than a couple
hundred, and wives and daughter.

Numbers 3 repeats this genealogy out one generation more:

>[21] Of Gershon was the family of the Libnites, and the family of the Shimites: these are the families of the Gershonites.
>[22] Those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, even those that were numbered of them were seven thousand and five hundred.
...
>[27] And of Kohath was the family of the Amramites, and the family of the Izeharites, and the family of the Hebronites, and the family of the Uzzielites: these are the families of the Kohathites.
>[28] In the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were eight thousand and six hundred, keeping the charge of the sanctuary.
...
>[33] Of Merari was the family of the Mahlites, and the family of the Mushites: these are the families of Merari.
>[34] And those that were numbered of them, according to the number of all the males, from a month old and upward, were six thousand and two hundred.
...
>[39] All that were numbered of the Levites, which Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the LORD, throughout their families, all the males from a month old and upward, were twenty and two thousand.

We'll ignore the fact that 7,500 + 8,600 + 6,200 would be 22,300.  But
how did 30-odd great-grandsons of Levi turn into 22,300 within the
lifetime of Moses, who was

How did 30-odd great-grandsons produce 7500 in the next generation?

But that is the least of the miracles.  It gives the numbers of the
other tribes as of the time of the Exodus.  These are all descended
from Levi's brothers, and Levi, as the 3rd oldest should have had as
many if not more descendants than his younger brothers.  But the
typical numbers of THEIR male descendants is given as 50 thousand.  To
get 50 thousand male descendants in each tribe in 4 generations, EACH
of the sons of Jacob would have had to have had 15 sons, who each had
15 sons, who each had 15 sons, who each had 15 sons.  Judah, which had
186,400 descendants, would have had to had 4 straight generations of
21 sons to get that many in 4 generations.  And that's just the sons.

So we have an incredible rate of population growth, a bit beyond the
plausible.  But if we grant that it happened, the Israelites wandered
in the wilderness for 40 years, enough time for the oldest generation
to die off.  If everyone is regularly have 30 kids in a generation
(because you need to have as many girls as boys for them all to get
married and reproduce without committing adultery, then the numbers at
the time they enter the Promised Land would have had to be 60 million
or more, ten times the current population of Israel.  But we shall see
that this was not to happen:

But have no fear, because the Bible contradicts itself as to Numbers,
in Numbers of all places.  In Numbers 1:46 and 2:34, we are given a
total of 603,550 males aged 20 or over, which is also the number given
in Exodus.

But in Number 3:42-43
>[42] And Moses numbered, as the LORD commanded him, all the firstborn among the children of Israel.
>[43] And all the firstborn males by the number of names, from a month old and upward, of those that were numbered of them, were twenty and two thousand two hundred and threescore and thirteen.

There are only 22,273 firstborn sons going all the way down to 1 month
old (which is another generation beyond the 20 year olds).  Which
means that the typical eldest son had some 30 younger brothers, which
is of course impossible for eldest sons under the age of 20.

But have no fear, because Numbers continues:
>[45] Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the children of Israel, and the cattle of the Levites instead of their cattle; and the Levites shall be mine: I am the LORD.
>[46] And for those that are to be redeemed of the two hundred and threescore and thirteen of the firstborn of the children of Israel, which are more than the Levites;
>[47] Thou shalt even take five shekels apiece by the poll, after the shekel of the sanctuary shalt thou take them: (the shekel is twenty gerahs:)

That's 273 in verse 46.  What happened to the other 22 thousand?  And
this is MORE THAN the Levites, who were counted as 22,300 (Even the
22,273 is not more than the number of Levites reported a few verses
earlier.)

It's not a typo or translation error, since the 5 shekels multiplies
correctly
>[50] Of the firstborn of the children of Israel took he the money; a thousand three hundred and threescore and five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary:

to 1,365 shekels

Now comes the laugh.  It is 40 years later, and the 603,550 males HAVE
ALL DIED, in Numbers 26:
>[63] These are they that were numbered by Moses and Eleazar the priest, who numbered the children of Israel in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho.
>[64] But among these there was not a man of them whom Moses and Aaron the priest numbered, when they numbered the children of Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.
>[65] For the LORD had said of them, They shall surely die in the wilderness. And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

Yet these 600 thousand odd males have been fruitful, because they
replaced themselves
Numbers 26:2
>[2] Take the sum of all the congregation of the children of Israel, from twenty years old and upward, throughout their father's house, all that are able to go to war in Israel.
...
>[51] These were the numbered of the children of Israel, six hundred thousand and a thousand seven hundred and thirty.

So in 40 years 600,000 odd men fathered enough sons that there were
600,000 odd sons over the age of 20 (a big drop from the 20 sons that
each of their fathers had), and then every last one of them except two
conveniently died, not one of the youngest making it to age 60.
Meanwhile in Numbers 25:9 a plague that kills a measly 24,000 of all
genders is a noteworthy punishment.

But what's a few hundred thousand among friends?  The Israelites were
about to be fruitful and multiply, right?  That is why several
generations later, in Judges 20:
>[1] Then all the children of Israel went out, and the congregation was gathered together as one man, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, with the land of Gilead, unto the LORD in Mizpeh.
>[2] And the chief of all the people, even of all the tribes of Israel, presented themselves in the assembly of the people of God, four hundred thousand footmen that drew sword.

In the land of milk and honey, being fruitful and multiplying, the
people of Israel had shrunk by a third in a couple hundred years.

But now we get almost to the time of David, and the people are
numbered again in 1 Samuel 11
>[8] And when he numbered them in Bezek, the children of Israel were three hundred thousand, and the men of Judah thirty thousand.

And the population had shrunk another quarter in a couple hundred
years.

But of course the nincompoop thinks that the LOWEST possible rate of
increase for the people of Israel is the 1.5% per year increase of the
modern era.  Even while the Holy Bible, if its Numbers make any sense
at all, is reporting enormous population growth, in a few generations
in Egypt, followed by massive death, and then slow population
shrinkage over the next few hundred years of supposed prosperity.

What of course is fascinating is that the Israelites were supposedly
fielding armies of hundreds of thousands of men, and made no record in
history other than in the Bible, and yet they were easily conquered by
the Assyrians, while Alexander the Great conquered the entire region
with an army estimated at around 15,000.  At the height of the Roman
Empire, there were 2-3 dozen legions of no more than 6,000 men.
Typical Roman battles involved no more than 1 or 2 legions and support
troops, and that was all that was necessary to put down the Jewish
revolts of Josephus's time.

lojbab



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