Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 16 No. 5 May 2014
Page 11

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to editor@gospelgazette.com

How Many Israelites Crossed the Red Sea?

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Someone asks, “How Many Israelites Crossed the Red Sea?” Scripture adequately stipulates the number of able-bodied men who crossed the Red Sea, beginning with Exodus 12:37, which reads, “Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children” (NKJV; cf. Numbers 11:21). A more precise number of men able to go forth as warriors can be discerned from a census that occurred just over a year following the crossing of the Red Sea. “… for everyone included in the numbering from twenty years old and above, for six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty men” (Exodus 38:26). Not counted in that number were children, wives, the tribe of Levi and the old or infirm.

So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers’ houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel — all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty. But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers’ tribe; for the Lord had spoken to Moses, saying: “Only the tribe of Levi you shall not number, nor take a census of them among the children of Israel.” (Numbers 1:45-49)

Therefore, the actual number of people crossing the Red Sea in the Exodus from Egypt was several times larger than the round figure of 600,000 by the time women, children, the old, the infirm and the Levites are considered. Most commentators calculate the entire number of persons amounting to approximately 2,000,000 people, and some estimates go as high as about 3,500,000. In addition to this mass of people, they were accompanied by herds of animals, too.


Importance of Old Testament

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Someone inquires, “What is the importance of the Old Testament.” Truly, where should I begin?

As the Bible opens with the Book of Genesis, one learns about the creation of the universe and everything in it, with a special notice of the origin of the human race. The very first verse of the Bible introduces God as the source of everything except Himself.

From the Old Testament we learn about the existence of divine law and the consequences of disobeying it. We have in the Old Testament the history of the human race for about the first 4,000 years. The blood-red strand woven throughout the Old Testament and in to the New Testament pertains to the blood-sacrifice of the second person of the Godhead for the redemption of sinful mortals. Particularly in the Old Testament one finds hundreds of prophecies concerning that Redeemer – better known to us as Jesus Christ; all of those prophecies were fulfilled in the first century, and we can read about their fulfillment in Jesus Christ upon the pages of the New Testament.

The Old Testament details a preparatory time during two divinely-given law systems (i.e., Patriarchy and Judaism, Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 3:3-4). Finally, at just the right time in God’s master plan for redeeming mankind, God sent Jesus Christ into the world (Galatians 4:4-5). We would understand little to none of all the preparing of mankind God did throughout the ages or that our Lord was the precise fulfillment of all those Old Testament prophecies; prophecy and fulfillment is a crucial proof of the identity of Jesus Christ as the instrument of man’s salvation.

The Old Testament is the foundation on which the New Testament superstructure rests. So much of the New Testament corresponds to, refers to or quotes from the Old Testament that if the Old Testament references were removed from the New Testament, not much of the New Testament would remain, and certainly what did remain would be unintelligible.

The Old Testament is no longer the law of God to which mankind turns today for instruction (Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Romans 7:6-7), but it is invaluable to we who live under Christianity today. “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4 NKJV).


Why Is Tamar’s Name Included
in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus?

A questioner asks, “Why is Tamar’s name included in the genealogy of Matthew?” (Matthew 1:3). That’s an easy question to answer. She was among the ancestors of our Lord. However, it was more common to include male ancestors rather than the female ancestors, though some other notable female ancestors also appear in the family tree (e.g., Rahab, Ruth and a reference to Bathsheba, Matthew 1:5-6). The Gospel Advocate Commentary for the Gospel According to Matthew supposes that Tamar was included due to the unorthodox way in which she was the mother of one of Judah’s sons in Christ’s lineage; the same could be said of Bathsheba. Rahab and Ruth, both Gentiles, represent along with Jewish ancestry the sum of all human races in the lineage of our Savior. The tainted characters of Tamar, Rahab and Bathsheba along with the Gentile background of Ruth in the family tree of Christ did not detract from the effectiveness of His redemptive mission. Rather, Jesus Christ came to save all mankind, though unfortunately most of the world’s population has not responded to God’s free gift of His Son.


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