on Exodus 12 :37
From Rameses to Succoth - Rameses appears to have been another name for Goshen, though it is probable that there might have been a chief city or village in that land, where the children of Israel rendezvoused previously to their departure, called Rameses. As the term Succoth signifies booths or tents, it is probable that this place was so named from its being the place of the first encampment of the Israelites.
Six hundred thousand - That is, There was this number of effective men, twenty years old and upwards, who were able to go out to war. But this was not the whole number, and therefore the sacred writer says they were about 600,000; for when the numbers were taken about thirteen months after this they were found to be six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty, without reckoning those under twenty years of age, or any of the tribe of Levi; see Numbers 1:45, Numbers 1:46. But besides those on foot, or footmen, there were no doubt many old and comparatively infirm persons, who rode on camels, horses, or asses, besides the immense number of women and children, which must have been at least three to one of the others; and the mixed multitude, Exodus 12:38, probably of refugees in Egypt, who came to sojourn there, because of the dearth which had obliged them to emigrate from their own countries; and who now, seeing that the hand of Jehovah was against the Egyptians and with the Israelites, availed themselves of the general consternation, and took their leave of Egypt, choosing Israel's God for their portion, and his people for their companions. Such a company moving at once, and emigrating from their own country, the world never before nor since witnessed; no doubt upwards of two millions of souls, besides their flocks and herds, even very much cattle; and what but the mere providence of God could support such a multitude, and in the wilderness, too, where to this day the necessaries of life are not to be found?
Suppose we take them at a rough calculation thus, two millions will be found too small a number.
Effective men, 20 years old and upward 600,000 Two-thirds of whom we may suppose were married, in which case their wives would amount to 400,000 These, on an average, might have 5 children under 20 years of age, an estimate which falls considerably short of the number of children each family must have averaged in order to produce from 75 persons, in A. M. 2298, upwards of 600,000 effective men in A. M. 2494, a period of only 196 years 2,000,000 The Levites, who probably were not included among the effective men 45,000 Their wives 33,000 Their children 165,000 The mixed multitude probably not less than 20,000 ____________________________________________ __________ Total 3,263,000
Besides a multitude of old and infirm persons who would be obliged to ride on camels and asses, etc., and who must, from the proportion that such bear to the young and healthy, amount to many thousands more! Exclude even the Levites and their families, and upwards of three millions will be left.
"In Numbers 3:39 the male Levites, aged one month and upwards, are reckoned 22,000, perhaps the females did not much exceed this number, say 23,000, and 500 children, under one month, will make 45,500." - Anon.
Had not Moses the fullest proof of his Divine mission, he never could have put himself at the head of such an immense concourse of people, who, without the most especial and effective providence, must all have perished for lack of food. This single circumstance, unconnected with all others, is an ample demonstration of the Divine mission of Moses, and of the authenticity and Divine inspiration of the Pentateuch. To suppose that an impostor, or one pretending only to a Divine call, could have ventured to place himself at the head of such an immense body of people, to lead them through a trackless wilderness, utterly unprovided for such a journey, to a land as yet in the possession of several powerful nations whom they must expel before they could possess the country, would have implied such an extreme of madness and folly as has never been witnessed in an individual, and such a blind credulity in the multitude as is unparalleled in the annals of mankind! The succeeding stupendous events proved that Moses had the authority of God to do what he did; and the people had at least such a general conviction that he had this authority, that they implicitly followed his directions, and received their law from his mouth.
on Exodus 12 :37
Rameses - See Exodus 1:11 note. Rameses was evidently the place of general rendezvous, well adapted for that purpose as the principal city of Goshen. The Israelites were probably settled in considerable numbers in and about it. Pharaoh with his army and court were at that time near the frontier, and Rameses, where a large garrison was kept, was probably the place where the last interview with Moses occurred. The first part of the journey appears to have followed the course of the ancient canal. The site of Succoth cannot be exactly determined, but it lay about halfway between Rameses and Etham Exodus 13:20. The name Succoth (i. e. "tents" or "booths" in Hebrew), may have been given by the Israelites, but the same, or a similar word, occurs in Egyptian in connection with the district.
600,000 - This includes all the males who could march. The total number of the Israelites should therefore be calculated from the males above twelve or fourteen, and would therefore amount to somewhat more than two millions. This is not an excessive population for Goshen, nor does it exceed a reasonable estimate of the increase of the Israelites, including their numerous dependants.
on Exodus 12 :37
12:37 About six hundred thousand men - The word means strong and able men fit for wars, beside women and children, which we cannot suppose to make less than twelve hundred thousand more. What a vast increase was this to arise from seventy souls, in little more than two hundred years.