Vol. 7, No. 3
Since You Asked
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Names may be included at the discretion of the Editor unless querists request their names be withheld. Please check our Archive for the answer to your question before submitting it; there are over 1,000 articles in the Archive addressing numerous biblical topics. Submit a Question to GGO.
Dear Bro Rushmore, I cannot imagine that 70 souls arrived in Egypt and increased to about 2 million (estimates) in a short 230 years (if 430 years dated from Abraham). Is this arithmatically possible? Thank You Brotherly, Jimmy Singapore
As you note, most Bible students acknowledge that of the 430 years from Abraham to the Exodus, Jacob and his descendants were in Egypt until the Exodus for 215 years. Matthew Henry's Commentary puts the matter in perspective:
Though the accomplishment of promises is always sure, yet it is often slow. It was now 215 years since God had promised Abraham to make of him a great nation (Gen 12:2); and yet that branch of his seed on which the promise was entailed had increased only to seventy, of which this particular account is kept, that the power of God in multiplying these seventy to so vast a multitude, even in Egypt, may appear the more illustrious. When God pleases, a little one shall become a thousand, Isa 60:22.
This citation seems to place an immense amount of confidence in God's Word, as we ought to do. However, other commentators, etc. propose a number of alternatives to diminish the 600,000 male Israelites of military age plus an estimated one and a half million or so other Israelites. One source removes the numbers under consideration from factual consideration when he writes, "Here now, we have 70 souls who enter Mitzraim to ultimately grow into a nation of 600,000 plus. (Of course, this number has also its own symbolic content and should not be understood as an actual count at all.)" ("Population "). Others simply dismiss biblical numbers generally as gross exaggerations.
However, what should the Bible-believer make of the increase of population from 70 to maybe 2,000,000 or so Israelites in 215 years? First, Exodus 1:7 and 12 state that the Israelite population in Egypt was increasing dramatically, even after they were reduced to slavery. "And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them. . . . But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel." With the all-powerful, divine hand of God involved, ordinary advances in population in a fruitful, non-famine affected land would accelerate quite a bit. Under ordinary circumstances in a fruitful land, though, what kind of population growth could be expected? Consider these routes of arriving at the population figures represented in the Bible for the Exodus.
Very simplistically, I think you need to pick an average age for a generation, i.e. how long till having kids, and then what is the average number of kids per person (or family). If I put that in Excel and ignore all previous generations, then if one uses 25 years for a generation and an average of 4.5 kids / person = 9 kids per family, starting with 70 individuals you have about 2.6 million in the generation that leaves Egypt. ("Population ")
If we assume . . . that a generation was twenty-one years, during the course of 190 years (such that the last generation would be in their twenties at the time of the Exodus) there would have been about nine generations . . . every mother . . . would bear six children during the course of her life. We may assume that, on average, these six children would be three sons and three daughters . . . Based on the assumption that the generation that went down to Egypt numbered sixty males who were still of child-bearing age, the next generation would have numbered 180 males; the third generation - 540, the fourth - 1620, the fifth - 4860, the sixth - 14,580, the seventh - 43,760, the eighth - 131,280, and the ninth - some four hundred thousand. Assuming that it was the seventh, eighth and ninth generations that left Egypt, after about 190 years there were six hundred thousand, and after 210 years - all were aged 20. The miracle of the reproductive multiplicity in Egypt was therefore a "hidden" miracle - that despite the hardships of Egyptian subjugation and their persecution, women bore six children, and this average did not waver up until the time of the Exodus. (Medan)
As to the possibility of 70 souls multiplying in the course of 215 years or 7 generations (to take the shorter interval rather than the longer of 430 years) into 2 1/2 millions of persons giving 600,000 fighting men, that need not be regarded as incredible till the rate of increase in each family is exactly known. Allowing to each of Jacob's grandsons who were married (say 51 out of 53), 4 male descendants (Colenso allows 4 1/2), these would in 7 generations--not in 4 (Colenso)--amount to 835,584, and with surviving fathers and grandfathers added might well reach 900,000, of whom 600,000 might be above 20 years of age. (Bible Tools)
Some doubt has been cast upon the number of the children of Israel who went up out of Egypt as expressed (1) in Exodus 12:37, "600,000 men beside children," (2) in Numb. 2:32 "603,550," beside the Levites at the beginning of the 2nd year after they came out of Egypt, and (3) in Numb 26:51, "601,730" at the close of the 40 years in the wilderness. But these doubts are quite groundless. From the going down into Egypt, AN. HOM. 2298, to the Exodus, AN. HOM. 2513, is 215 years. Mr. Malthus has shown that with an abundant supply of food, a given population may continue to double its numbers in about 15 years, and in favoured cases, in even less time. At this rate of increase the 70 souls who went down into Egypt would have multiplied in 225 years to 2,293,760, which is perhaps about the number of the entire population including Levites, women and children; the 600,000 mentioned in Ex. 12:37, Numb. 2:32 and 26:51, would be the adult males. (Anstey)
Under prime conditions without the special help of God, the increase in numbers from 70 to a couple of million persons in 215 years appears feasible. Certainly, with the supernatural determination of God as well, respecting God's promise to Abraham (Genesis 12:2; 13:16; 15:5; 17:5-6; 11:17-18), the Bible-believer has no reason to doubt the biblical narrative and its implications.
Anstey, Martin. A New Covenant. 25 May 2005. <http://anewcovenant.tripod.com/part1.htm>.
Bible Tools. 25 May 2005. <http://bibletools.org/index.cfm/fuseaction/Def.show/RTD/ISBE/ID/6452>.
"Gen 46:5-27." Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible. New Modern Edition. CD-ROM. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1991.
Medan, Rav Yaacov. 25 May 2005. <http://vbm-torah.org/archive/parsha65/13-65shemot.htm>.
"Population Explosion in Egypt ." 24 May 2005. <http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v46/mj_v46i71.html>.
"Population Explosion in Egypt ." 24 May 2005. <http://www.ottmall.com/mj_ht_arch/v46/mj_v46i67.html#CTY>.
Hi, Are prenuptials Biblical and can you elaborate on it, God Bless, Kathy
Neither any of my biblical resources nor the Bible, as far as I am able to ascertain, addresses the subjection of prenuptial agreements. However, I did locate the following partial response on the Internet that another person offered to a similar inquiry.
Although prenuptial agreements are not mentioned in the Bible, God does tell us how we are to view marriage, and from that we can figure how agreements such as these would be viewed. First, God intended marriage to be permanent, everlasting. When two Christian people go into a marriage, it should be with the strong belief that divorce is not possible, and it should not even be an option. To have a premarital agreement allows for the possibility of divorce. When God formed Eve from Adam's rib, He was signifying the purpose of a husband and wife relationship. The woman is the man's helper, taken from under his protective arm and formed from the same flesh. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh." Obviously this means that separating should not even be a contemplation. The only reason divorce was ever allowed was because of sin, and people refusing to obey God's Word. "Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted divorce as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness, but it was not what God had originally intended'" (Matthew 19:8). God never changes, and He despises divorce (Malachi 2:16). . . . None of what the Bible tells us about marriage can fit into the concept of a "just in case we get divorced you can't take my stuff" agreement. ("What")
I would be hesitant, though, to dogmatically avow that it would be sinful to enter a prenuptial agreement. Yet, it never occurred to me that faithful Christians would even imagine they needed a prenuptial agreement. Jesus did anticipate the possibility of divorce and remarriage with divine approval for the innocent party to adultery: "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery" (Matthew 19:9). This may be a matter for personal decision, especially in light of the Bible's silence on the matter, but an intended spouse who may be asked to sign a prenuptial agreement may need to rethink the commitment of his or her intended spouse, and the one asking an intended spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement may need to evaluate whether he fully trusts and loves that other person.
"What does the Bible say about prenuptial agreements?" Gotquestions" 26 May 2005 <http://www.gotquestions.org/prenuptial-agreements.html>.
Dear Bro. Rushmore, I was sent a link to your site by my located preacher, referencing "the Lord's supper alone" response. I have been studying and questioning the practice of multiple observances of the Lord's supper by a local congregation, which is for the accommodation of the membership's schedules (work, play, sickness, etc.). I fail to see the wisdom behind such a practice. Let alone any scriptural authority for only a porption of the local assembly to perform any act of worship, while the rest of the assembly observe (or do anything else). It's not acceptable with singing (i.e. choirs), praying, or listening to God's word being proclaimed, so why is it for the Lord's supper? Worship is an action that is authorized by scripture (truth) and joined with the appropiate attitude (spirit) (John 4:24). Public or corporate worship is the above, but the whole assembly participating in the same avenue at the same time and place, with such leading to the edification of the body (1 Corinthians 14:26,40, Eph 4:16, Hebrews 10:25). Any thoughts? Sincerely, Matt Klingman, Vermilion Church of Christ
First Corinthians 11:26 indicates frequency without specificity respecting Lord's Supper, plus a purpose for observing the Lord's Supper: "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come" (1 Corinthians 11:26). Acts 20:7 indicates frequency with specificity for observing the Lord's Supper, each Lord's Day: "And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight" (Acts 20:7). The Bible is silent respecting specificity of frequency for observing the Lord's Supper other than on the first day of each week. A congregation could observe the Lord's Supper each time it assembled for worship on the Lord's Day, though neither does the New Testament's specificity of frequency for observing the Lord's Supper require that.
The question, though, includes can some members partake of the Lord's Supper while other members present do not partake of the Lord's Supper and that be biblically permissible. Under some circumstances, the Bible requires some Christians not to partake of the Lord's Supper while other Christians are partaking of the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). Whereas, this passage would have Christians refrain from observing the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner and have Christians rather partake of the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner, it is feasible for a Christian to be unable to observe the Lord's Supper in a worthy manner when it is served (e.g., a young mother wrestling with and distracted by an unruly child, an erring Christian, anyone whose mind is distracted by matters outside the assembly, etc.).
Further, the surmise that Christians cannot worship God if all Christians present are not worshipping God in the same way proves too much if it proves anything. Can a mute person (i.e., permanent disability or laryngitis) worship God if he or she cannot sing? Also, whenever the Lord's Supper is served, the whole congregation does not eat the bread and later drink the fruit of the vine simultaneously (i.e., unless it were served to everyone first and on command each person consumed the Supper). This does not nullify the Supper; the original Supper instituted by Jesus with his apostles does not demand simultaneous consumption of the Supper. Before the manufacture of multiple communion cups, simultaneous consumption of the fruit of the vine would have been nearly impossible.
At any rate, sometimes we try too hard religiously. We do not intend to demean Bible authority, and we always subscribe heartily to it, but sometimes we run the risk in our own "wisdom" of running back to Jerusalem and passing it on the other side. We must be careful not to make laws where God has made none, while at the same time adhering to what is in the Gospel (Bible authority).