size of Israelite army?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by corndogggy, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. corndogggy

    corndogggy
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    This came up in another thread because I was having a hard time accepting that everything in the bible is 100% true, but in all seriousness, does anybody know the realistic size of the Israelite army? In one place in the bible it claims that just for one battle there were 1,100,000 Israeli soldiers and 470,000 soldiers from Judah. I don't think it's an isolated mistake because it also says they completely wiped out a 1,000,000 soldier Ethiopian army and there's also another tale of 500,000 Israeli men being killed by the army of Judah.

    I find this hard to believe because:

    1. combined that's slightly more soldiers than the entire United States, across all locations and divisions, and they were all in one place.

    2. The Israeli army for that one battle alone would have been about 3 times bigger than the entire Roman army was across all locations at their peak, which was about 375,000 soldiers across 70 legions.

    3. When the massive Mongol army invaded Europe, they had 200,000 soldiers... way less than half of what even the army from Judah supposedly had. The Israelites supposedly had 5.5 times this amount in one spot.

    4. The casualties of these first two apparently short battles I mentioned would have easily surpassed Stalingrad.


    Does anybody who actually thinks about this stuff really believe that's true?
     
    #1 corndogggy, Apr 13, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2009
  2. billreber

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    Your implication is that some of the things written in the Bible are false. (Call this "a"). I respectfully submit to you that if ANY part of the Bible is false ("a"), then ALL (call this "b") of it must be rejected, since it claims to be the written Word of God. (Basic logic states that if "a" is false, then "b" is false also, and that if "a" is true, then "b" is also true.

    That stated, I DO think about this stuff, and I DO believe it is true. If God said it (which is what I believe), that settles it!

    I am reminded of an argument I once heard that said the ages of the early Genesis humans was really measured in months rather than in years. Therefore Methuselah only lived about 969 months (less than 81 years) instead of 969 years. Someone quickly pointed out that Kenan had a child at 70 (call that less than six years of age), and that Enoch had a child at 65 (call that less than five and a half years of age). IF the ages had been measured in months, medical miracles were taking place. Logic says that the ages were really measured in years, not months. (Check out Genesis 5 for more info. There are more examples in the record!).

    We modern humans have never lived in past ages, and therefore cannot truthfully tell what strength any ancient army may have had. I choose to believe the records written at the time!

    Bill :godisgood:
     
  3. corndogggy

    corndogggy
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    We can in fact deduct the approximate numbers for the entire population for a given time period, and from what I have seen, they are nowhere near these numbers, much less anywhere near the kind of population you would need to be able to put 1,100,000 soldiers in one battle.

    Put it this way, around when Jesus was here, the ENTIRE Roman empire was a little over 4 million people, spread out over many many countries. To have a 1,100,000 soldier army you'd have to at least have that many people, and that's assuming that pretty much every single able bodied man was fighting. There's no way that ancient Israel had as many people (or more) as the entire Roman empire near its peak. That's an absurd thought. Even with that many people, the romans only had 375,000 soldiers at their peak and that's at least partially because they were so spread out.

    The highest number I've seen as far as the ENTIRE population of ancient Israel was 500,000 at its highest peak. Now, even if we used that number, how in the world did a group of 500,000 people have an army of 1,100,000??? The population density would have to be a minimum of like 8 times higher than the peak of the most lenient of population estimates, and that's making every single able bodied man fight, and that would be taking every single one of them and putting them all in the same battle.
     
    #3 corndogggy, Apr 13, 2009
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  4. Marcia

    Marcia
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    There were 800,000 soldiers, but 1,100,000 men: The numbers given in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles are different, but the thing being counted is different too. 2 Samuel gives the number of soldiers, while 1 Chronicles gives the number of men who could be called on to fight if need be. The first number is smaller than the second, as we would expect.
    http://www.errancy.com/how-many-soldiers-in-israel/


    Joab gave the sum of the number of the children of Israel--It amounted to one million one hundred thousand men in Israel, capable of bearing arms, inclusive of the three hundred thousand military (1 Chronicles 27:1-9), which, being already enlisted in the royal service, were not reckoned (2 Samuel 24:9), and to four hundred seventy thousand men in Judah, omitting thirty thousand which formed an army of observation stationed on the Philistine frontier (2 Samuel 6:1). So large a population at this early period, considering the limited extent of the country and comparing it with the earlier census (Numbers 26:1-65), is a striking proof of the fulfilment of the promise (Genesis 15:5).
    http://devel.searchgodsword.org/com/jfb/view.cgi?book=1ch&chapter=21&verse=25



    For further comments on this see
    http://www.specialtyinterests.net/hebrew_numbers.html

    http://74.125.113.132/search?q=cach...ers+in+1+chronicles?&cd=8&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
     
  5. preachinjesus

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    It probably helped that Israel had (and still has) a mandatory conscription for all males once they reach "fightin' age."

    In the time you are talking about the actual size of the Nation of Israel would have been well into the millions by this point...and growing. :)
     
  6. donnA

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    you can not resort to calling the bible not true, (and in effect calling God a liar) just because you do not understand it.
     
  7. corndogggy

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    Even at the lower but still ridiculous 800,000 number, this would have easily been the greatest army throughout all of history until fairly modern times, way larger than the Roman and Mongolian armies combined. Why then are they always overlooked?
     
  8. drfuss

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    drfuss: Another thing to consider is that the number in the army also included slaves and others who came to Israel to live, such as Uriah, the Hittite. Many people came to live in Israel to join God's Chosen People as encouraged a number of times in Dueteronomy where the Israelites were encourgaed to accept strangers. The Israelites believed and taught that the way to God was by joining God's Chosen People.
     
  9. preachinjesus

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    How do you come by your stats for historical armies? How big were the Egyptian and Babylonian armies? Just curious.

    What are you searching for in posting this? Also, just a curious question. :)
     
  10. Joseph M. Smith

    Joseph M. Smith
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    I do not buy the "house of cards" logic that if one statement in the Bible is shown to be false (in some empirical sense), then the whole thing is invalidated. Do you really want to set yourself up to be knocked down in such a fashion? If I make a typo in this posting (which, likely, I will), does that invalidate the entire posting? No.

    As for the size of the armies ... allow for scribal errors, or for just plain hyperbole ... but so what? Does that change our understanding of who God is and what He is about? Not at all. We need not chase down every possible factual discrepancy, because our knowledge of God is vaster far than these statistics.
     
  11. LadyEagle

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    God's hyperbole? Puleeeese.....
     
  12. preachinjesus

    preachinjesus
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    Well not all the Bible was always interpretted literally. Even the Scriptures allow for an allegorical interpretation of themselves.

    When some the NT writers quoted the OT they did so (sometimes) by working up their own Greek translation of the Hebrew. This isn't unusual I don't think. :)

    There are many things that Jesus said that I take as actual statements of hyperbole. How many of us have plucked out our own eye? Mabye His point is greater than the action dictated. :)
     
  13. North Carolina Tentmaker

    North Carolina Tentmaker
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    Lots of different opinions on this number corndog, I know that UNRV.com gives that same 4 million number, but it is talking about Roman citizens only. The population of the entire empire is estimated between 50 and 70 million people.
     
  14. Joseph M. Smith

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    No, not God's hyperbole. The Deuteronomic historians, who may have -- MAY have, I don't know -- had a need to glorify Israel's military prowess.

    But my principal point remains the same. The numbers are interesting from a critical perspective, but the essential veracity of the Bible is not destroyed even if they are not correct. The message of the Bible lies in its revelation of who God is and not in the historical minutiae.
     
  15. Magnetic Poles

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    There are definitely errors in any translation or manual transcription. For example:

    Two and twenty years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign.
    --
    II Kings 8:26

    Forty and two years old was Ahaziah when he began to reign.
    --
    II Chronicles 22:2

    Does this negate the whole tome? I don't see it that way.
     
  16. corndogggy

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    I'm not the one saying it negates the entire bible. I do get tired of people saying that it IS 100% correct because if it wasn't it would negate the entire thing. More than likely, it isn't 100% correct in a literal sense, and I can live with that, but I can't stand it when people insist that it is, no matter what it says.
     
    #16 corndogggy, Apr 15, 2009
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  17. Marcia

    Marcia
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    The Bible is 100% inerrant in the original autographs.
     
  18. Joseph M. Smith

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    But that is unproveable, since we do not have the originals. I would continue to argue that matters of statistics or detail are not relevant. The authority of the Bible lies in its understanding of who God is and what God does and of who we are and what our condition is. For that I do not need to worry about minutiae. This goes to the very nature of revelation itself -- whether it is fundamentally propositional or relational. While those two cannot be entirely divorced, I would argue that revelation is essentially relational. Facts do matter, but not so much that the slightest misstep leads to a complete failure.
     

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