“Though the colourful story of the Hebrew Exodus from Egypt is known to everyone the legend itself is a complete fantasy.” – Ken Humphreys
The Passover Holidays are upon us, so what better time than now to explain how the entire tale of the Exodus was logistically impossible. Of course, modern archaeology provides enough evidence that almost the entirety of the Jewish biblical history was fabricated, so let’s go with what the bible says. Even if a “miracle of god” is used as an explanation, there are some problems that should be addressed. Since this story is a major part of the faith, and a source for cheesy movies the world over, let’s give it some special attention. I would start a little earlier on in Jewish history, but there seems to be a problem with the timekeeping in the bible, as it states that the Jews were enslaved for 430 years. When you examine the length of the “generations” from Jacob to Moses, it only adds up to about 350 years, and yes, that is using the Jewish calendar and making extreme allowances for length of life. So, we’ll get straight to the actual trip across the desert.
A little discrepancy…
The bible and Jewish authorities claim that there were about three million Israelites, give or take half a million, that were part of this trip. Let’s do some math. We’ll start with all of the fifty-five recorded male descendants of Jacob who came into Egypt, allow three succeeding generations of five sons each, extrapolate, shake well and we get somewhere near seven-thousand males. Add in some females, let’s make it an equal amount just to be fair, because women were not included in the biblical count because they were, after all, only females…
A liberal number would be about fourteen-thousand. Mix in some wives for the contemporary generation and mothers for the next, allow a wide margin for error and you get a grand total of about thirty-five-thousand Jews. Not sure where the other 2.9 million came from, but perhaps the biblical writers used a wider margin for error. Either that or each of the fifty-five males of the first generation had a little over twenty sons, and each of those twenty sons and twenty of their own sons, and so on, and so on.
Of course, when we look at the reality of the life expectancies of that time, if there were Hebrew slaves in Egypt, most of the first three generations probably did not survive to the time of the exodus, a more realistic number would be about eight thousand. A far cry from three million, but accuracy in counting seems to be an ongoing problem.
Passing over logic…
The Passover included a commanded to kill a lamb for a party, and a party isn’t the same without inviting some of the neighbors. So if we allow eight to ten people for each lamb, that’s roughly 200,000 or so lambs. Oh, and the lambs were supposed to be without blemish, male and the first-born. That’s a lot of lamb chops. If you add in the females, blemished siblings, goats, sheep, cattle and horses, the area that would be needed to sustain all of these animals would be many thousands of square miles. Three million residents and millions of animals would make the ghetto of Goshen either many times larger than it was, or really freaking crowded.
The Israelites are leaving Egypt in a hurry. According to the bible, they left by marching five in a rank. This would make the column almost three-hundred miles long, not counting the millions of animals. Given the distance that can be covered in one day, maybe twenty miles at best, the first ranks would have to cover thirty miles for the last of the ranks to even make a start. This means that half of them could not have even gotten out of the city on the first day, let alone first gathering in Rameses. So the account that all of them made it to Succoth in one day is also impossible. It would have taken months.
This is to say nothing of what the millions of animals ate during the trek, since the area is scant of any vegetation. Since there was yet to be manna from heaven, it doesn’t account for what the people ate, either, as the bible says they were “thrust out of Egypt, and didn’t have time to prepare any food“. When the people got thirsty and asked Moses for a drink. God sweetened some bitter water then brought them to place where there were twelve wells and seventy palm trees.
So, the three million Israelites and the millions of animals made camp there and got their drink and a few coconuts thrown in. I hope they had enough, because this would be the last natural water supply they saw for the next thirty-eight years. God, being a good provider, did supply them with water two more times over the next three decades. What a peach. I won’t even get into where these “slaves of Egypt” got a hold of the swords, spears, shields, bows, arrows and armor that the bible says they had when they “left harnessed (armed) out of the land of Egypt” to conquer seven nations greater and mightier than them. Generally, slaves are not allowed to keep arms or be trained in warfare.
Remember the quail? The ones that fell from the sky as punishment because the people thought the manna kind sucked? The bible says they were stacked up “two cubits high” for a distance of “a day’s journey round the camp.” This means that the quails outside the camp would be piled almost four feet high and extend for almost thirty miles in every direction from the four sides of the twelve-square mile camp. That’s roughly five-hundred square miles of four-foot thick quail. Five hundred square miles. Four feet high. Try to wrap your head around that for a minute.
While you are doing that, know that given the size of your average quail and the thirty-six hours that the bible states it took the Israelites to gather them up, that equals to about twelve million quail for each person, which would mean being able to gather up roughly one-hundred quails per second without interruption. For thirty-six hours straight. In the desert. Without help from McGuyver or even Chuck Norris.
Because god commanded that his people and the camp remain ceremonially clean under the threat of death, the garbage, refuse, ashes, and filth for three million people and millions of cattle had to be constantly and carefully removed from the camp. As well, there was to be no bodily waste in the camp, so nature-calls had to be completed outside the camp, too, and covered up by digging a hole with a special paddle that only one of the armed soldier-slaves had, as they were attached to their weapons.
I guess the women and children had to borrow a soldiers weapon or have a soldier accompany them every time they had to relieve themselves. This is not counting what had to be done with the average seventeen-hundred people who died every day. You can extrapolate the areas needed for cemeteries, alone. You can only imagine the size landfill that would be needed to process the waste, garbage and refuse for millions of people and animals.
How much wood can a wood chuck chuck…
Moses commands that at harvest time, every year, the Israelites should chop down some trees and make booths to dwell in for a week to remember the houses they had to leave. Of course, where they would get enough wood to build enough booths for millions of people, every year, for forty years is unknown. I don’t recall a passage in the bible about wood falling from heaven and there were virtually no trees at all in the area. This doesn’t even include the wood needed for all the burnt offerings, burning of remains, cooking of food and lighting fires. So, let’s just say the whole “booth” thing was a mistake, and these people actually lived in tents, like any other self-respecting desert dweller.
You then have to wonder where they got the tents, since the bible says they left in such a hurry that they were only able to grab some dough, a couple of household items and a few articles of clothing. There was no mention in the bible about the approximate two-hundred or so thousand heavy and cumbersome tents, which include ropes, poles, and pegs. They moved the camp more than forty times. To give you an idea of what this involved, figure that a quarter million tents, complete with streets and passages, a little room in between the tents, enough room for each person so they were not packed in like sardines, the Levites, and space for millions of animals, the camp would be close to the size of modern Chicago.
Needless to say, there are many, many logistical and common sense problems, errors and inaccuracies with the biblical account of the exodus. It’s well established that the Egyptians built all the cities and monuments themselves during the farming off-season and not with slave labor. Nowhere in Egyptian records exist an account of millions of people leaving in one year, let a lone one day, or the mass deaths of huge amounts of “first-born” individuals. Considering the fact that we know the population of Egypt around that time was roughly three and a half million, they would have made a note of being left with only one-million residents and a completely depleted economy. In fact, Egyptian history is suspiciously devoid of a lot of things that the bible says happened.
Can You Dig It…?
Then there is the issue of archaeologists being unable to find any credible evidence of their camps, which were virtually floating nations. You would expect that nomads, caravans, military expeditions and other factions wandering around the relatively small area of the Sinai would have reported something. Outside of scripture, no such information or accounts exist. It would seem, indeed, that the Exodus was a grand fabrication of Israelite origins. In reality, archaeology shows that the Israelites simply arose out of the lowly Canaanite culture over a long period of time.
“Despite the mass of contemporary records that have been unearthed in Egypt, not one historical reference to the presence of the Israelites has yet been found there. Not a single mention of Joseph, the Pharaoh’s ‘Grand Vizier’. Not a word about Moses, or the spectacular flight from Egypt and the destruction of the pursuing Egyptian army.” – Magnus Magnusson (The Archaeology of the Bible Lands)