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Population Studies From The Bible
The history of ancient Israel is a warning to Christians and Jews. Each individual, and each succeeding generation has its own choice to make concerning God. Transmitting a living faith to our children, or to others so they will choose to keep it as their own, is one of the most important and difficult things to do.
Was God unreasonable when He told ancient Israel to wipe out all Canaanites? The Bible record shows that God was neither unreasonable nor vengeful. The first case was a matter of practicality. Had he not given strict instructions, it is doubtful Israel would have lasted beyond 1000 B.C. as a people. The population figures in the Bible tell the story of a people abandoning God and leaving the nation of Israel in droves.
This study is presented in three parts. The first part shows Israel literally joining the Canaanites they had conquered (Judges 3:6). The second part examines the tribe of Judah in depth to check the veracity of the population numbers in the Bible. It can be shown that the population numbers in the Bible are accurate. The final part concentrates on the tribe of Benjamin. The story of this tribe is an example of what was happening in the rest of ancient Israel. The number of Benjaminites who no longer considered themselves a part of the tribe could have been as high as 50%.
Part 1: The Growth Rate Of Ancient Israel
Seventy people entered Egypt along with Jacob in 1926 BC (see Note 1 concerning the dates). In 430 years they grew to 603 550 people (Numbers 1:46). Since population growth is geometric, a basic interest formula can be used to describe it. The formula used throughout this study is:
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