Thursday, July 31, 2008

Numbers 3 and OT Family Size

One more lingering thought from Numbers 3:

In J. J. Owens' commentary he ponders the fact that there were 22,273 firstborn among the Israelites (Numbers 3:43) and what this indicates about the typical family size in OT Israel. If the population of Israel might be estimated at c. 2 million at this time, Owens concludes, "This would average approximately eight children per family, discounting the grandparents and childless couples. This figure, as an average, is high, but it is not unreasonable as a figure as it would seem when one considers the large families which are characteristic of the eastern world" (p. 93). This certainly fits the praise of fruitful families elsewhere in the Bible. Children are like "arrows in the hand of a warrior" and the blessed man "has a quiver full of them" (Psalm 127:4-5). The blessed man's wife is "like a fruitful vine" and his children pop up "like olive plants all around your table" (Psalm 128:3).

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