“At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt.”-Exodus 12:41
We’re told that about 600,000 men left Egypt.
But altogether, I would say considerably more than two million actually left.
First, the 600,000 figure consists of only men eligible for military service between the ages of about 20 to 50 years old.
This was the rule of census taking in those days.
Women, children, and the elderly were NOT counted.
And don’t forget that thousands of Egyptians and other foreigners of a variety of nationalities and races who after witnessing HASHEM’s awesome power also decided to leave with the Israelites.
Another probably little known fact is that there were scores of mixed families as well.
Egyptian men who had married Hebrew women and vice versa.
Heck, if you had had the opportunity to marry out of the slave labor class, wouldn’t you have taken it?
Verse 38 called this motley crew a “mixed multitude”.
The presence of this mixed group of foreigners (in Hebrew GER) was the very reason why God had to issue instructions on how to deal with this mixed group.
So I’d estimate that about 2 to 3 million is a credible figure of the total number of folks who left Egypt.
The truth is Scripture has little notion of numerical accuracy in the way it conjures up numbers.
The Bible often speaks in round numbers.
In Genesis 15:13, we’re told that Israel would be in Egypt 400 years.
However, here we’re told that “to the day” Israel spent 430 years in Egypt.
“To the day” is a statement indicating precision, so we can trust that 430 years is the accurate number while 400 is a round number.
Let’s also not forget the difference between a lunar and solar calendar.
In general, the Bible goes by the lunar calendar.
A lunar calendar year is 354 days while a solar calendar year is 365 days.
If we run the numbers based on our modern 365-day calendar, Israel would have been in Egypt for about 417 years.
Now there is a very interesting reason why the 600,000 figure is used and it is connected with the term “the Lord’s divisions“.
Depending on your translation, a variety of different expressions will be used.
“the hosts of the Lord”
“all the divisions of the Lord”.
However, the original Hebrew is “TSABA YAHWEH”.
TSABA means “hosts” or “forces”.
So a most literal rendering from the original Hebrew would be “YAHWEH’s forces”.
TSABA is also the exact same word used to describe the “host of heaven” referring to God’s army of angels.
The point here is that God is applying a distinctly military term to this ragtag mob of former slaves.
Even the expression “on foot” (RAGLI in Hebrew) from “six hundred thousand men on foot“ is a military term that reinforces the idea that the fleeing Hebrews are “the Lord’s battalions”.
The spiritual takeaway here is too awesome for words and it is this:
Your identity is NOT defined by your circumstances or your place in the world but by how God sees you.
As far as the world was concerned, the Israelites were a to-be-pitied race of forsaken slaves, but from God’s perspective, they were His mighty and holy army, a group of people who would soon become a beacon of light to the world.
Fellow brothers and sisters, the same principle applies to you as well.
Your co-workers, or even friends and family may make fun of your faith and treat you in a condescending manner.
Or maybe you’re in a situation where you have to endure harsh persecution.
I know this is much easier said than done, but when you are under attack, remember, you have two choices.
You can choose to view yourself from the depressing and condescending perspective of the world.
Or you can choose to view yourself from God’s perspective.