Talk:Large numbers in the Old Testament
On the first born males please refer to Gleeson Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible difficulties.
This issue is redemption. Exodus 13:13, Numbers 3:46-47 and Numbers 18:16 are key texts
The number doesn't refer to the number of women in Israel. It refers to the number of boys to be set aside for God.
The Levites took up the role of the "spiritual leaders" for the entire nation. The entire nation went through the sea - and were thus considered "redeemed" but many more children were born in the 13 months before the actual transaction whereby the Levites took the place of spiritual responsibilty. Of all the children born it is only the "first born" of first birth mothers that still had to be "redeemed".
The 22,273 yet to be redeemed boys were those born after the exodus and before the census 13 months later. From the excel spreadsheet mentioned in CreationWiki/Biblical chronology debate/ discussion some 182,000 or more babies may have been born during the year after the exodus.
Halve that number to give boys, then we may possibly assume that one quarter of those boys were born to mothers who were "first time mothers". That gives a result of 22,750 baby boys who had to be redeemed. This number is reasonably close to the number given in the scriptures, without having to force the issue. I trust this helps.
sincerely, WesDale 01:31, 6 June 2007 (EDT)
That's not what the text says.
Num 3:15 Number the Levites by their clans and their families; every male from a month old and upward you are to number.
3:40 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Number all the firstborn males of the Israelites from a month old and upward, and take the number of their names. 41 And take the Levites for me - I am the LORD - instead of all the firstborn males among the Israelites, and the livestock of the Levites instead of all the firstborn of the livestock of the Israelites." 42 So Moses numbered all the firstborn males among the Israelites, as the LORD had commanded him. 43 And all the firstborn males, by the number of the names from a month old and upward, totalled 22,273.
There is no hint in the text that some Israelites are already redeemed or that the firstborn are not all the firstborn.
Furthermore, if there were 22,000 Levite males, we could guess the whole population of the 12 tribes to be around 130,000 males; that would imply a total population of around 260,000. That's still huge. It would mean that every family had at least 10 surviving children on average!
--Oelphick 06:06, 3 October 2009 (UTC)