Report on Exodus Census Counts

The future history of the people of ancient Israel is occasionally seen chronologically in the counts found in the Bible. Once such place is the counts at the Exodus. These counts map to the number of days in 3500 years, a match to the 70 jubilees the world is now finishing. There are some detailed issues. This page explains and provides interactive tool for exploring.


The book of Numbers includes census counts for the nation of Israel. These census counts are recorded carefully, and seconded for all of us to read today. Why did God take such care in making sure we knew these numbers?

Because they are a day-count at the rate of one family head, able to serve in the army, for each day in the age between the Exodus from Egypt and the end of the age.

This query takes those counts, allowing for various choices in application, and runs out the dates. The resulting query shows the dates when we switch from one tribe, or sub-tribe, to another. Be warned that there has rarely been confirmation on the intermediate dates in counted lists list this. What appears to matter are the totals So, we may find that only the start and stop periods for these reports are significant. Until we have even one strong confirmation, we must take the intermediate dates with caution. That said, Korah’s rebellion appears to warrant special treatment.

A curious feature of these census’ is that Korah, one of Aaron’s sons, Korah’s brother, and 250 other followers take part in a revolt and are destroyed by the Lord. This story is recounted carefully at the time of the second census as well as at the first. Note that 2 brothers + 250 others = 252 family heads taking part in the revolt. They were all priests, which are worth 5 regular heads of households. So, 252 * 5 = 1260. At the rate of 1/day, this is 1260 days somewhere in the age. Since it is recorded twice in Numbers, this gets generated twice in the following query. Also, since the priests, of which these fellows were, are "set apart" in various ways they should be set apart here. What does that mean for a sequential list? Either they come first, or they come last. Since the start of this period is probably right at the Exodus, and since there is little history in the following 40 years, I’ve chosen to place the last in all the reports generated here.

Choosing the right Start date

There are various candidate dates when we should start the counts and run them out. The reasonable ones are offered below. The following are the reasons behind each choice.

  • 2/2/1 FE The date the census was originally called. This date is a reasonable choice for no other reason than this is when the census was called. The other choices detract from this choice, and the reason the census was called this date was not because the date was special to the census, but to the army who was about to advance and fail in their first attempt at taking Canaan. All the other dates seem better than this one.

  • 1/1/15 FE, Date of the Exodus This date is more appealing because this is the date the Israelites left Egypt. Choose this date to see that the grand totals in this report is a total of 3500 years to the day and that Exodus to 2 is probably this many days. This does point at the inflexion day, 3501/1/15 FE and is an interesting choice.

  • 1/1/1 FE, Date of the start of the calendar. This is appealing if you want to use the start of the year as the start of this period. Some other places, like Solomon’s Temple dedication work best when the start of the year is chosen. Nothing else supports this choice.

  • 9500/12/1 AA This choice, the default in the form below, is probably the best choice. This is 60 days before the start of the calendar, 75 days before the first Exodus. This choice has confirmation through the fact that it was 40 years from this date that the Israelites began to advance towards the Jordan river, suggesting this to be the date that God started advance his plan to get the Israelites out of Egypt, 40 years before. This choice also aligns the period of Korah’s rebellion with the start of the 7X period of Daniel. Recall his "schedule" was 1260, 1290, and then a special 1335. If this last 1335 is overlapped with the 1290 day period, as we chart it elsewhere, then Daniel points at the date 3501/1/15, and his first 1260 day period will align with the first set of Korah’s rebellion. (Muddled, I know, sorry.) Anyway, this makes a choice of 75 days early at the start align with the last, special, 75 day period at the end of the age. The pattern here at the day level count agreeing with so many other places where the number of days needed to start a project happening at the end of the project too. (Like 19 year fall of Jerusalem, 19 years back.) So, this is the default choice, and for various reasons, probably the best.

Choosing the right Levite Strategy

The total number of Levites is not clear from the Hebrew Text. The problem is that two different possible numbers are given, and depending on which one is used a different total length is provided in the report. The following are the issues around the two choices:

  • 22,000 total Levites This choice is the summary number given for the number Levites in the first census. It is the default. It is my preferred choice because it renders the list with an exact 3500 day interval.

  • 22,300 total Levites This choice is provided for the curious. The Septuagent supports this choice, but is in clear disagreement with the Hebrew. Check relevant footnotes in most bibles.

Choosing the Order of Presentation

Because of my desire to get Korah’s rebellion to align at the end of the age, providing a link that the Book of Jude seems to support, all queries through here will put his rebellion, and the counts from him at the end of the generated report. The other tribes, counted in the census, have less clear place in the generated report. The following are the two choices presented here.

  • As Counted This choice will present all the other tribes in the order as presented in the census. This is the default below, but probably not the right one. Generally speaking the textual order is not the chronological order if there are keys anywhere else about what the order should be. But, we are generation a census report which gives dates to the census reports actually recorded for us, so this is the default here.

  • In Walking Order This choice presents the counts in the order that they were to advance out of the camp when the pillar of fire advanced. This has also been "bunched" since there were two census’ and only one kingdom, which presents a problem for us still. Advice on this problem? Send e-mail to address at bottom of page.

Parameters for Census Count Report

Starting Epoch Levite Strategy Order
2/2/1 FE, Date census called
1/1/15 FE, Date of the Exodus
1/1/1 FE, Start of calendar
9500/12/1 AA, 60 days before calendar start.
22000 Total Levites
22300 Total Levites
As counted
Bunched tribes, in walking order.

This query produces the historical dates corresponding to the sequence of dates implied by the national census’ recorded in Numbers.

Choosing the right starting epoch is hard. The default choice stands the best chance of being right. It is 40 years to the day before the advance on the Jordan river.[1] (Note that 9500 AA is a sabbath year, with 13 months, so month 12 and 13 are the last two months of this year. 40/11/1 FE minus 40 years, is 0/12/1 FE)

This default starting point causes the 1260 day intervals of Daniel at the end of the age to line up perfectly, using other work done elsewhere on the site. This makes the census counts and Daniel’s account confirmations of each other. Note the dates in the result of this query for the dates of the "classic" seven years of tribulation.


For the default case...

The entire system is circular, ending 3500 days to the day from where it started. (The extra 75 days from Daniel, the last row in the chart above, are not part of Exodus and don't count for this analysis.) It does not matter what starting date is used, if the standard Levite count is used the ending date is 3500 years from the starting date.

The default settings are curious because they essentially land at the same end as can be deduced for Daniel’s 1335 days based on the calendar.

Of course this is off by 1 day. Pretty good over a running total over 1.2 million in these various counts.

The last few dates in the series are clearly following a pattern. The Naphtali date in 1874 is the second general election in the newly formed Germany Reich of 1871.

January of 2003 marks the start of the Second Persian Gulf War, and the issuing of the "Road Map" peace document, marking the start of the Tribulation and starting the war.

July of 2006 is the war across the Israel/Lebanon border.

1. Deuteronomy 1:3