Monday, January 09, 2012

Ben Gurion said what?

This is what was happening in May 1960. It seems that David Ben Gurion had expressed his belief that only 600 Israelites left Egypt - not 600,000 - and joined their Israelite brethren in Canaan, where most had remained in the first place. This talk was broadcast on the radio, and Agudath Israel tried to bring down the government.

Here's some of the coverage in Maariv:

May 17:

May 18:

May 19:


  1. In מפיהם של רבותינו, Bnei Brak 5768, pp. 367-379 they reprinted an interview R. Zalman Sorotzkin had with Yisrael Shpiegel of Hamodia (23 Iyar 5720) entitled "תשובה לראש הממשלה, מר דוד בן-גוריון, על דבריו בקשר ליציאת מצרים" where he attempts to prove Ben Gurion wrong. There's was also an article in Kulmus about this a while back where they tried to show where Ben Gurion went wrong with his calculations.

  2. where did he get the number 600 from? he just made it up?

  3. Yeah, he basically made it up.

    I mean, he made a calculation - read it. He said that the descendents of Levi listed amount to 25 males, which implied 50 in total with their wives. Multiply that by 12 (tribes) and you get 600, which seemed far more reasonable than 600,000 because of the multiple logistical problems the number 600,000 poses. He believed that this small group rejoined the vast majority of Hebrews, who had remained in Canaan in the first place.

  4. "[a] small group rejoined the vast majority of Hebrews, who had remained in Canaan in the first place."

    That is--by far--the majority opinion of scholars from all the relevant fields. Minus the "re" in rejoined.

  5. I dont think the article mentions that he quoted the Radak, that the word "elef" doesnt have to mean thousand, but can acually mean "family." [It still doesnt work out neatly, but hey.]

    Amazing how things have changed. At least Ben Gurion was acknowledging the Exodus, only challenging details of it. Today many in the cabinet would say otherwise. Also I note that prominent frum writers and bloggers on the internet have publicly written of their doubt - or at leat that they find "very troubling" - the notion that there were 600,000 men between 20 and 60 that left Egypt.

    DIYYUK - Michale Chazzani from the NRP said that as long as Ben Gurion didnt vioalte halacha, he had no problem. Shma mina Chazzani didnt think ben Gurion's hashkafa was a violation of halacha.

  6. Also remind me of the story R. Lau had with Fidel Castro as recorded in R. Lau's book אל תשלח ידך אל הנער

  7. DF: I'm aware of many places where 'lp ought to mean clan, but where does the Radak actually say that?



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