Ancient Israel

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How Many Left Egypt?

The Bible states that 603,550 fighting men in ancient Israel left Egyptian slavery under Moses (Numbers 1:46). Biblical commentaries, using this number, project that roughly two to three million people left Egypt.

The above estimate is likely a bit low, since such projections cannot take into consideration the unknown number of non-Israelite males who also left slavery (Exodus 12:38). Additionally, the number of men in the tribe of Levi is also unknown, as God forbid counting them since they were dedicated to his service (Numbers 1:47).

First Human King

Technically, the first human king over ancient Israel was not Saul but one of Gideon's sons named Abimelech (Judges 8:23, 31 - 32)! After his righteous father died, He conned relatives to give him money then used it to hire assassins to murder all but one brother. The city of Shechem then made him their king. Their willingness to recognize Abimelech as their ruler seems to have been accepted by others in Israel (Judges 9:22). His rule over the people abruptly ended after three years (verses 53 - 54).

The Greatest Enemy

The Philistines were arguably the nearest, fiercest and most protracted enemy of God's people. They were a warlike people who inhabited the southern seacoast of Canaan, an area God intended to be part of Judah's inheritance in the land (Joshua 13:2 - 3, 15:47).

They first come in conflict with Israel under Joshua, who attacked but could not subdue them (Joshua 13:3, Judges 3:3). After the death of a Judge named Ehud (1212 B.C.), a man named Shamgar killed 600 Philistines who had invaded the land (Judges 3:31). Samson single-handedly fought them during the twenty years he was a Judge (see Judges 14 - 16).

Israel battled the Philistines many times during the days of Samuel the prophet and King Saul (1Samuel 14:52). King David fought these battle-hardened people on at least eight separate occasions!

Though greatly diminished under David, the Philistines continued to harass their neighbor for many more years. In fact, during the rule of Judah's King Hezekiah (715 - 686 B.C.), they again attempted to invade the land (2Chronicles 28:18). The prophets Isaiah, Amos, Zephaniah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel foretold of God's punishments against these implacable enemies.


Although countless people have been murdered, throughout history, for their belief in God (see Matthew 23:34 - 37, Acts 7:52), the Old Testament only records the names of a few of them.

Urijah, a prophet, spoke out against the sins of Judah and Jerusalem (Jeremiah 26:20 - 23). Judah's King Jehoiakim not only had him hunted down as he fled to Egypt, he had him dragged back to Jerusalem where he personally murdered him.

Zechariah, a priest, called the children of Israel to repent of their sins. Judah's king at the time had the people stone him to death in the court of Jerusalem's temple (2Chronicles 24:20 - 21). It is likely, though not certain, that Jesus was referring to this murder when he chastised religious leaders for their hypocritical behavior (Matthew 23:35, Luke 11:51).

How Long in the Promised Land?

The Israelites entered the land of milk and honey in 1405 B.C. under the leadership of Joshua. Ten of the tribes (the Kingdom of Israel) stayed in the land until they were conquered and taken captive by the Assyrian Empire in 723 B.C. (682 years). The remaining tribes, composing the Kingdom of Judah, stayed in the land until 586 when the Babylonian Empire conquered them and took them as captives as well (819 years).

Recommended Articles
Why Is It Called the Promised Land?
What Were the Plagues of Egypt?
Where Is Shechem Located?
When Did the Philistines First Attack Israel?
Joshua's Greatest War Victory!
Where Did the Romans Kill Christians?
What Did the Temple Look Like?
Where Did Israel Migrate After Captivity?

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