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When the people of Israel left Egypt they did not leave alone. They left with a mixed multitude of many people (Exodus 12:38). What happened to the mixed multitude in the desert and, specifically, after the giving of the Torah? We hear of all the tribes, where they camped in the wilderness, etc., but I do not recall hearing again about the mixed multitude. What might have become of them? Do we have a tradition on this? Beyond a place in the camp layout, should they not have raised the issue of conversion or intermarriage - for the first time after receiving the Torah?

(This question is different from a similar question, What happened to the Eirev Rav?, which discusses what happened to the mixed multitude after the people entered Canaan.)

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  • Don't have direct sources for this one, but I recall some points: 1) The Eirev Rav were the major force behind the golden calf 2) Converts are not given a tribe, they acquire land through marriage into the rest of tribes so 3) they resided outside the tribal boundaries established in the desert, but weren't restricted to a specific "place" in the formation. Mar 11, 2015 at 17:16
  • Yeah, I learned that they all(?!) died after the Golden Calf :(
    – SAH
    Jun 29, 2018 at 1:44
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    Possible duplicate of What happened to the Eirev Rav? Jun 29, 2018 at 6:11
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    @ShmuelBrin This question is about what happened to the mixed multitude in the desert, not after coming to Israel (it was already marked as a duplicate and reopened a few years ago)
    – b a
    Jun 29, 2018 at 8:19
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    related judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/2348/… May 14, 2021 at 19:28

1 Answer 1

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According to B'midbar 11.1 a fire broke out amongst them.

Rashi comments: the extremes of the camp: Heb. בִּקְצֵה הַמַּחֲנֶה. Those untouchable because of their baseness-these were the mixed multitude (See Exod. 12:36). R. Simeon ben Menassia says, The most distinguished (קְצִינִים) among them and the prominent ones. — [Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:42:1]

"The people were looking to complain, and it was evil in the ears of the Lord. The Lord heard and His anger flared, and a fire from the Lord burned among them, consuming the extremes of the camp."

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    OK. But 11-4 says the mixed multitude was still active, leading Israel to ask about meat.
    – Yehuda W
    Jun 1, 2018 at 15:13
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    Are you saying that they were all wiped out?
    – Alex
    Jul 24, 2018 at 2:49

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