Question:

How many people crossed the Red Sea?


Answer:

In the account of the exodus from Egypt we read, "Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds-a great deal of livestock" (Exodus 12:37-38). Hence, there was approximately 600,000 adult male Israelites. Assuming that the Israelite population follows modern trends, we should find an equal number of adult females. However, the female population could have been higher because of the Egyptian policy to kill off the males. "So Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, "Every son who is born you shall cast into the river, and every daughter you shall save alive"" (Exodus 1:22). Notice, though, that these numbers do not include Israelite children or any non-Israelite who chose to join the exodus. A population needs about 2.5 children per couple in order to sustain the population, but we also know that the population rate among the Israelites of this time was increasing rapidly. "But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them" (Exodus 1:7). For argument sake, let us assume there was an average of 4 children per adult couple. We then have:

Adult Males 600,000
Adult Females 600,000
Children

2,400,000

Non-Israelites ?
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Total over 3,600,000 people

The most common estimates by commentators are between 4 million and 6 million people.

May 8, 2012