Here's my basic calculation:

  • at the time of Yetzias Metzrayim (Exodus), the 600K males had 5 kids per family (Targum Yonasan)

  • half of the kids were males

(it is also highly probable that even if they hadn't they would have on average 5 kids in the first 20 years).

That totals to 1.5M boys (not counting Levis). They turned men 20-60 years in the next 40 years of wandering in the desert. Some casualties here (24K at G.Calf) and there (Midyan) do not add up to 900K.

I would expect the population to count at least 1.5M males at the time of entering the promised Land. The Torah only accounts for around 630K.

What am I missing?

  • 1
    Having references in your question would help see what you are speaking about. But kids also died during childbirth, from accidents, were being eaten by wild animals, etc.
    – mbloch
    Aug 24, 2019 at 17:44
  • @mbloch, the Clouds of Glory didn't protect them from wild animals? And if they weren't doing much physical labor in the desert, what accidents?
    – Mordechai
    Aug 24, 2019 at 20:08
  • @Al Berko can you give us a more specific reference where the targum is? Aug 24, 2019 at 22:27
  • @SamuelManuel Added to the text. That's pretty obvious that they could have at least 5 kids in the first 20 years of the wilderness.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 24, 2019 at 22:45
  • 3
    I'm not sure I understand the question. Didn't 600k die because of the spies?
    – Double AA
    Aug 25, 2019 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


About those 5 kids per family... there are other sources that counter this, and at least some of the males weren't married.

For new children that will be born:

"לפי שהדרך גורמת לשלשה דברים ממעטת פריה ורביה וממעטת את הממון וממעטת את השם"

A journey lessens three things: reproducing, wealth and reputation.

(Rashi Bereshit 12:2)

  • Even though they didn't travel very much (Rashi in the beginning if parshas Maasei), they thought they would, and for that reason they didn't give milah (yevamos 72a).
    – Mordechai
    Aug 25, 2019 at 8:45
  • This is not an answer, the question wasn't how many children did they have, we take the number 5 for granted. The rest is also inapplicable here, as they stayed in the clouds, no lessening of wealth, health and reputation. You can mention that in comments though
    – Al Berko
    Aug 25, 2019 at 11:55
  • 1
    @AlBerko It's not clear from your question that you take the 5-kids-per-family as simple historical fact. You do understand, that if you don't take it as simple fact, the question is not very strong? Aug 25, 2019 at 11:58
  • You probably didn’t see the link to the Targum. 2. Your answer is inapplicable to the wilderness, it only speaks of a regular situation. 3. They had kids, and no reason to think that less than 5 per household. So do your math.
    – Al Berko
    Aug 25, 2019 at 12:47
  • @AlBerko Do you think that all the 600K men were married and had 5 children? it's more likely to read "every married men had five children" Aug 25, 2019 at 13:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .