Jacob and his family went to Egypt numbering (approximately) 70 people. After approximately 200 years, 600,000 men between the ages of 20-60 (if I'm not mistaken). So probably 2 million total got out (this is an estimate I've heard). The highest estimation(Rashi, I think) is that 20% got out from Egypt, so by that estimate there were 10 million Israelites in Egypt at the time of the Exodus. And this was a generation after Pharaoh decreed that all the Israelite baby boys be killed.

My question: How is it possible that 70 people in 200 years multiplied to 10 million?

  • I don't know why you take the "highest estimation" if you are looking to understand this. Just assume the people who were there left. That is the simple pshat of the verses. You want to know how ~100 became ~2M in ~200 years. Who's up for some math?
    – Double AA
    Jul 1, 2013 at 20:14
  • @DoubleAA . Already made the changes in the question. But still, the question remains. Even in the simple pshat, 600.000/70= is like in 200 years you have already 8.500 grand-grandsons, knowing that also in the simple pshat Pharao wanted to kill every boy. And the family of Moshe was with just 3 people.
    – juanora
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:08
  • Hmmm...yes....thinking better now... mathematically makes sense...the question is kind of answered... Thank you @DoubleAA
    – juanora
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:34
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/13815/…
    – Menachem
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:39
  • @Menachem this reinforce my question
    – juanora
    Jul 1, 2013 at 22:02

2 Answers 2


The number of people in a generation is (N/2) * x where N is the number of people in the previous generation and x is the number of children each couple has. If N_0 = 70 and x = 6, after 10 generations, there would be over 4 million children. And that's assuming everyone in all previous generations had died.

  • i was thinking wrong when I did the question...
    – juanora
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:47
  • (n/2)*x^y/2^(y-1)...when y=number of generations.
    – juanora
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:59
  • in your number is 4133430
    – juanora
    Jul 1, 2013 at 21:59
  • 1
    @juanora If each couple had 8 children instead of 6, then you're at 73.4 million after 10 generations. So I guess the average was between 6 and 8.
    – Daniel
    Jul 1, 2013 at 23:40
  • 3
    Or maybe they were having children at ages younger than 20 years old. If a generation is 18 years, then there are 11 generations in Egypt
    – Daniel
    Jul 1, 2013 at 23:42

Polygyny. In industrial quantities. Over three generations (which is all the P source allows between the Descent and the Exodus) that's the only method that would work. Every Israelite man must have married dozens, if not scores, of women. Obviously when they came out they only took their favourite wife/wives and children and left the rest behind.

  • 1
    How does this follow? Are you suggesting that there were far more Israelite women than men?
    – Daniel
    Apr 15, 2021 at 23:32

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