Before you can go to war and wipe out an entire culture, you must first figure out how many troops you have, right? Well, not really, I mean, it didn’t stop the Israelites from invading all those previous cities. Since God is all-knowing, couldn’t he just give them the precise number? And didn’t they just have a census a mere two years ago? And another in Egypt two years before that? Could their population really have changed that drastically? Well, yes, actually. Remember, there were all those mass-murders committed by God. Okay, so how many people died? Was anyone keeping track?
As a matter of fact, I was. Let’s begin with the specifically listed numbers. God murdered the 10 spies who didn’t want to invade Canaan, required the death of the man who picked up sticks on the Sabbath, 250 entire families (I’m low-balling this to 750) were swallowed up by the Earth for incorrectly believing that God loved them, another 14,700 plague deaths because the Israelites complained about the previous deaths, Aaron’s death, Zimri being stabbed in the back for having sex with a foreigner, and the 24,000 of the most recent plague caused from the Israelites getting too close to Moab and Midian. That gives us a total of 38,963!
But is that the total? Nope, not even close! There were even more instances of death where a number isn’t recorded. God burned alive an uncounted number for complaining, another unknown amount were buried alive by quail corpses as far as the eye could see, many were no doubt killed when they tried to take Canaan after being told not to, several more would have been killed when Arad attacked them, and even more when they obliterated his city out of revenge, another swath of them were bitten by fiery serpents for complaining, and those who remained had to take part in the invasion and occupation of Sihon, then Jazer, and then Bashan, and whoever survived and celebrated with sex was cut down by Moses’ swordsmen! And of course, anyone else guilty of breaking any of God’s crazy commandments during the two-year span would have to be executed as well. I’d say that all those deaths would at least double the previous number to 77,926.
Now we’ve got to take into account all of the people who died from poor diet. While the bible claims there was enough manna for everyone, that doesn’t mean they’re getting all their necessary vitamins and minerals. Malnutrition for two straight years is gonna kill a lot of people. What about all the “bitter” water they had to drink? Jazzing up a stagnant puddle with sticks may mask the awful flavor, but it certainly won’t remove all the microbes that cause dysentery. Let’s not forget the heat causing sunstroke, the constant traveling causing exhaustion, and the lack of sanitation causing infections. Anyone young or old would be especially susceptible. And of course, two years have passed, so we should see a fair amount of people just dying from age-related causes. Anyway, I’ll toss in another 30,000 deaths, which I think is a serious under-estimate at 107,926.
Finally, there would have been a fair amount of births in this two-year stretch, but without any medicine or obstetricians, a good amount of them would result in death, sometimes for the mother as well. So let’s subtract around 8,000 from our total, and just go with a decrease in the population of an even 100,000. Again, seems really low, but I’m trying to give the bible the benefit of the doubt.
So, 100,000 deaths, almost all of them were directly or indirectly caused by God. Tune in tomorrow to see how close our estimate is for Numbers 26:1-4.