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Exodus 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Exodus 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Now these are the names of the children of Israel, which came into Egypt; every man and his household came with Jacob.

2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah,

3 Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin,

4 Dan, and Naphtali, Gad, and Asher.

5 And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls: for Joseph was in Egypt already.

(1:5) "And all the souls that came out of the loins of Jacob were seventy souls."
How many were in Jacob's family when they came into Egypt?
Seventy souls came into Egypt, see Acts 7:14 where the author of the SAB reads a contradiction.

6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

7 And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.

Population Explosion!
(1:5, 7) The Israelite population went from 70 (or 75) to several million (Ex.12:37, 38:26, Num.1:45-46) in a few hundred years.
The increase is indeed called exceeding mighty. And it all happened in 215 years. How miraculous? In modern times we have seen a maximum population growth of about 2.2% per year. We could call that normal or average perhaps. If Israel had grown at that rate, after 215 years they would have increased to about 7,534 persons. But if we increase the growth to about 5% (less than double the average) we arrive at over 2,5 million after 215 years.
To calculate how many children a pair would need to have to arrive at a few million in 215 years time, let's assume the following simple model: we start with 24 people (the 12 sons of Jacob and their wifes). They all get 6 children each. None of the children marry, none die. That means that after 25 year there are now 96 people: the original 24 plus 72 children. In the next 25 years these 72 children marry with each other, having each six children, their parents won't get any more children. We arrive then at 312 people 50 years after our start. In the third 25 years, the original parents, now grandparents, die. Their children have no more children, and their grandchildren intermarry and have 6 children each. We arrive then at 936 people after 75 years. If we continue this process it means that at the beginning of the 225th year we have 484,200 person. Not enough. But if every pair has 7 children, we easily reach the required number as we have 2,129,341 in year 225.
That is, even in our days, not uncommon. Wikipedia contains an article on fertility rates and countries like Niger and Afghanistan are above 7 children.
So yes, the growth was abundant, but not impossible nor can it be called unscientific.

8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.

9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we:

10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land.

11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.

12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.

13 And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:

14 And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

15 And the king of Egypt spake to the Hebrew midwives, of which the name of the one was Shiphrah, and the name of the other Puah:

16 And he said, When ye do the office of a midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the stools; if it be a son, then ye shall kill him: but if it be a daughter, then she shall live.

17 But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive.

18 And the king of Egypt called for the midwives, and said unto them, Why have ye done this thing, and have saved the men children alive?

(1:18-20) "Therefore God dealt well with the midwives."
God rewarded the Hebrew midwives for lying to the Pharaoh.
Is it OK to lie?
Is the author of the SAB really suggesting it would have been a better course of action for the midwives to let Pharaoh kill the children? What the midwives did here was saving lives!
Moreover, we do not really know if they were “lying”: perhaps they instructed the women not to call them to help with delivery, and they indeed only visited after the fact.

19 And the midwives said unto Pharaoh, Because the Hebrew women are not as the Egyptian women; for they are lively, and are delivered ere the midwives come in unto them.

20 Therefore God dealt well with the midwives: and the people multiplied, and waxed very mighty.

21 And it came to pass, because the midwives feared God, that he made them houses.

22 And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive.