In later generations, there were hundreds and thousands of kohanim that could potentially assist with the very full schedule of managing the Mishkan/Mikdash on a day-to-day basis. However, in the wilderness, there was only Aharon and his sons (four and then two) catering to at least 2-3 million people. By the time Aharon passed away there were probably more kohanim - descendants of Elazar and Itamar - but the ratio of kohanim to non-kohanim was still very, very large. How were the kohanim at the time able to keep up with all of the work? I assume that every day there were thousands of different sacrifices brought to the Mishkan, not to mention the rest of the service. Is this incorrect?

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    I love the perspective of trying to imagine the reality behind the words that underlies this question. But I have nothing to help build an answer from. Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 0:36
  • Where did they get thousands of cows daily in the desert? They barely had quail.
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 1:08
  • @DoubleAA They had a supply to start with, but I guess we don't know how many per person. See my comment below on the numbers for korban pesach.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 3:23
  • @DoubleAA I had similar questions about olos r'iyah and chagigah, anytime later. How many animals must Klal Yisrael bring per year, according to the rules? I was unclear if more than one person can share an olah r'iyah, for instance.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 3:25
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    @MichoelR no, I'm talking about during the seven previous days. The pasuk in Tetzaveh says והנותר בבשר ובלחם באש תשרפו. It doesn't say לא תותריו ממנו or anything to that effect. The implication is that it was just too much for them to eat. I believe the Malbim makes this point. The goat on the 8th day is a separate discussion.
    – Heshy
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 17:44

1 Answer 1


Relevant, with a couple of related questions: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Cf6sxXpjvEI95fmKgtc52ID_mh7-sR36/view?usp=sharing It also has an attempt to work out the numbers for Korbon Pesach, in later generations.
I would appreciate comments and suggestions.

In the Pesach in Mitzrayim, it seems that each family handled its own Korban Pesach, putting it on the doorposts etc. (see gemara 96a). However, in Parashas B’haalosecha, they brought their only Korbon Pesach in the midbar. There were around 600,000 families, and I don’t know how many joined in a chaburah. Let me use an overestimate and say that every thirty families made a chaburah - and perhaps everyone would get a kezayis. In that case, there were 20,000 Korbon Pesachs.

Here we have a whole different problem: there were apparently only three cohanim, Aharon and his two sons! No rows of gold and silver this time, just three cohanim hurrying to the Mizbeach and back as fast as they could. In the same 270 minutes, they would need to bring 74/minute or one every second. I don’t see how it could be done without a miracle.

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    Thanks, Eliyahu!
    – MichoelR
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 16:59

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