New Defender's Study Bible Notes
1:46 all they that were numbered. This number did not include the women and children nor the tribe of Levi. All the Israelites in the wilderness must easily have exceeded two million. Since there were only seventy who had entered Egypt (Genesis 46:27), this represented an average doubling of the Israelite population every twenty to thirty years, depending upon the somewhat uncertain duration of their stay in Egypt, which may have been as little as 215 years or as much as 430 (Genesis 15:13; Exodus 12:40,41; Galatians 3:17). This represents an unusually high growth rate, implying large families (Jacob had twelve sons, for example). As reported in Exodus 1:7, “the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.” Despite these large numbers, God miraculously provided food and water for them in the desert for forty years. Their numbers no longer grew, however. The corresponding total at the end of the forty years was only 601,730. Of this total, only Caleb and Joshua were left from the number in the first census, all others dying in the wilderness because of unbelief.