Archive for March 4th, 2010

How Many Israelites Actually Left Egypt (Part 2)

As we mentioned earlier, exegetic scholars–both Jewish and Christian–have long recognized the problems with the numbers mentioned in the Bible. Judging by the numbers listed in the beginning of Numbers, the Israelite nation must have consisted of about two and a half million people. This must have been a rigorous job for the two midwives in charge of their birth (Exod 1:15 )! There were precisely 22,273 firstborn males (Num. 3:43); given 600,000+ males, this would mean an average of ...

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How Many Israelites Actually Left Egypt? (Part 1)

According to Numbers 1:46, the Israelite army stood at “six hundred three thousand five hundred fifty.”

On the basis of the census taken, one must assume there was an excess of 2,000,000 Israelites in the wilderness, of which  603,550 were soldiers.  The sheer numbers raises many questions: How could the wilderness provide for such a large number of people over a forty year period? By the same token, how could the livestock and other flock animals subsist on a relatively sparse ...

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The Best Question of the Passover Seder

Children have an unusual ability when it comes to confronting our spiritual hypocrisy as parents and as adults; very often they get to the essence of the problem as they perceive things. Frequently, as parents we often fail to hear the questions our young people ask of us; often we overreact whenever we feel that our beliefs and values are being questioned or attacked.

Rather than listening with an inner ear, as parents, we often react with harshness and anger. Sometimes ...

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Disputed Origins of Religion: Modern Views (Part 2)

In the last two centuries, we have witnessed the rise of many new theories concerning the origins of religion which continue the debate started by the ancients.  There seems to be little agreement among scholars as to how or why religions first originated.

Herbert Spencer identified the origin of religion  in what he perceives to be the universal practice among primitive peoples of worshiping the ghosts of their ancestors. He then goes on to trace the further evolution of religious consciousness ...

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Disputed Origins of Idolatry: Pre-modern Views (Part 1)

The origin of idolatry is a fascinating study in and of itself. Maimonides traced the origin of idolatry to  the pre-Diluvial era of Enosh. Maimonides writes:

During the days of Enosh, humankind made a serious mistake, and the wise men of that generation gave foolish advise. Enosh himself was one of those who erred. Here is what developed: They said for as much that God created the stars and the celestial planets with which to control the world. He placed them ...

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