I am a preacher. Today I was talking with some Jews who talked about the 2.5 -3.0 million people who witnessed the miracles of the exodus.

But according to my knowledge, the population of Africa at 1000BCE was 7 million. So if this is true that would say ~50% of Africa were Jews.

A closer look at the population figure of Egypt itself, this appears to be only 3-4 million, that would make more than half the population of Egypt Jews. I always thought the children of Israel were a small sect that were being oppressed, but here they seem to be more numerous than the Egyptians. And if the Talmud is correct (see above link), this 3 million is only 20% of the total population of Jews in Egypt at the time ((3/20)*100=15) i.e. 15 million, which exceeds the population of Egypt 4-5 times.

I would like to know what is the Jewish explanation for these discrepancies between the numbers of Jews in the scripture and the population of Egypt at the time of the exodus.


2 Answers 2


I am surprised by the question, because the answer is explicate in the Torah text (Exodus 1:9):

וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֶל־עַמּ֑וֹ הִנֵּ֗ה עַ֚ם בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל רַ֥ב וְעָצ֖וּם מִמֶּֽנּוּ׃

And he said to his people, “Behold, the people, the Children of Israel are more numerous and stronger than we." (Artscroll translation)

As to how a smaller population could enslave a larger population, that too is addressed in the text (1:10):

הָ֥בָה נִֽתְחַכְּמָ֖ה ל֑וֹ פֶּן־יִרְבֶּ֗ה וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־תִקְרֶ֤אנָה מִלְחָמָה֙ וְנוֹסַ֤ף גַּם־הוּא֙ עַל־שֹׂ֣נְאֵ֔ינוּ וְנִלְחַם־בָּ֖נוּ וְעָלָ֥ה מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

"Come, let us outsmart it, lest it become numerous, and it may be that if a war will occur, it, too, may join our enemies, and wage war against us and go up from the land.”

Really this is no different than any slavery situation, where there are often many more slaves than masters. Also police use strategy (and equipment, etc.) to control a much larger group of rioters, armies of a few tens of thousands concur countries of millions, and so on.

  • That great and i am open to the truth when you prove it with logic, reason, truth and scripture. There is just one point left, this 80% of the remaining Jews mentioned in Talmud. If this is true then this is more Jews than twice the number of people in the whole of Africa at that time. Aug 13, 2019 at 20:52
  • Perhaps it is an exaggeration; exegesis in the Talmud often exaggerates. But how accurate are our population figures? Estimating current populations is not an exact science, and estimating past populations has a very wide margin of error.
    – Mordechai
    Aug 13, 2019 at 21:22
  • I agree i usually say the same thing for evolution. Aug 14, 2019 at 1:41
  • @Mordechai You point makes sense because more than half of the American population in the South were slaves.
    – Turk Hill
    Aug 14, 2019 at 2:40

I am convinced that the Bible always, not just sometimes, exaggerates numbers to make an impact. I think the total number of Israelites that left Egypt with some Egyptian spouses were far less than 600,000.


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