by Farrell Till
In the listing of the sons and grandchildren of Jacob who went into Egypt with him (Gen. 46:8-27), we find that most of the sons had several sons and grandchildren, but for Dan (the son of Rachel's handmaid Bilhah) only one son was listed. This was Hushim (Gen. 46:23). It must be true, then, that Dan had had only one son at this time, because Yahweh's inspired, inerrant word said (after listing Jacob's sons and grandchildren) that ALL the souls that came with Jacob into Egypt were 70 (v:26), so Dan either had no other children or they stayed in Canaan or the Bible is not inerrant. I can't think of any other alternatives.
That biblical writers understood that Hushim was the only son of Dan who went into Egypt is confirmed by the SECOND census of the Israelites in Numbers 26:42, where Shuham was the only son of Dan listed. Of "Shuham," *Eerdmans Bible Dictionary* says this: "A son of Dan whose descendants were the Shuhamites (Num. 26:42-43). At Genesis 46:23, he is called 'Hushim'" (1987, p. 946). So biblical reference works recognize that Hushim and Shuham were the same person, and they must either do this or else explain why Genesis 46 listed ALL the sons and grandchildren of Jacob that went into Egypt but did not list a Shuham, who was later identified in a Numbers census as Dan's son.
So what is the problem? The first census of the chosen ones, recorded in Numbers 1, was taken to identify those of military age who could "go forth to war" (1:3). These were males who were at least 20 years of age (Ibid.). Verse 39 states that those 20 years old or older of the children of Dan that were "able to go forth to war" were 62,700. My, my, Hushim (Shuham) must have been a busy little bee after he entered Egypt, and he must have had a gene for proliferation that was passed along to those who descended from him. If there were 62,700 males above 20 from the children of Dan, then surely there were an approximately equal number of females in that age group, so there would have been over 125,400 descendants of Dan trekking through the wilderness at this time. I say OVER 125,400, because the 62,700 men numbered in the census were those who were "able to go forth to war." It would have been unlikely that every male descendant of Dan, without exception, would have been physically able to serve in the army. Surely, there were some elderly and infirm, if nothing else.
Furthermore, if there were at least 125,400 adults 20 or older at this time, there would surely have been an approximate number of Danites who were below 20. Let's just assume that the number under 20 years of age was only three-fourths the number above 20. This would have made the children of Dan at this time number 219,450, so why don't we assume that there were at least 550 infirm Danites above 20 so that we will have a good round number of 220,000?
So to believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of the omniscient Yahweh, we have to believe that within the space of just 4 generations (or 420 years, if you choose to believe Exodus 12:40), 220,000 people could have descended from just one person. Maybe someone on the list who is familiar with population-growth factors could help us visualize how many offspring each generation would have had to produce in order to grow from one person to 220,000 in this period of time.
Not having that expertise, I still find it hard to believe that 220,000 people could have descended from just one person in only 4 generations or 4 centuries (take your pick).
Another strange thing about the census in numbers is that the tribe of Benjamin had only 35,400 of military age at this time, yet Genesis 46:21 listed 10 sons of Benjamin who went into Egypt. I guess this just goes to show that when you are last (as poor Hushim [Shuham] was), you just have to try harder. It must have been fun for old Hushim and his male descendants, but you have to pity their poor wives.