Monday, May 16, 2022

How many people in ancient Israel?

THE ANXIOUS BENCH: Peopling the Biblical World (Philip Jenkins).
The Biblical world at various eras is probably the most intensely studied society in human history. Just how many books, for instance, have been written about Palestine in the time of Jesus? Despite all that work, though, we still have major areas of ignorance about such a basic issue as population. If we look at a country today, that is such a critical theme. How many people are there to pay taxes, to serve in armies, to populate cities, and to feed those cities? Numbers are not everything, but nor are they nothing. So just how many people lived in Palestine – broadly defined – at any given time? And how many in Jerusalem itself?


Like so much in our ancient sources, ancient claims about the population statistics of Palestine and Jerusalem are on the tabloid level of credibility.

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