These are the Israelites, counted according to their families. All the men in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550.Numbers 2:32 NIV
I have always found the logistics of the Exodus to be staggering. Without debating how accurate the numbers are, think about what would be involved in managing a group of several million people, along with flocks and other possessions, as they travel through a wilderness for 40 years. We, or at least I, often picture a somewhat compact camp. And all of the pictures I have ever seen show it that way. But think about what it would really be like.
There were 603,550 men over 20 years old. That probably would mean at least half a million family units, each including a wife and a couple of children, for a total of two million in the camp. And that is likely a conservative estimate. Each family seemingly had a small flock of sheep and other animals used to transport their stuff.
For a bit of perspective, the city of Huston, Texas, has a population of 2.3 million people and occupies an area of 640 square miles. And Huston is likely packed tighter together than Israel’s camp would have to be. Each family had to have enough space for their animals to graze—something not needed by Huston residents. Their camp may easily have occupied over 1000 square miles. Providing government, food, water, grazing, and other necessities of life would present immense challenges for a group this size without any established sources of supplies. And think of trying to communicate with all of them without modern communication abilities.
This is not meant to cast doubt on the account of the Exodus. Instead, it is to show the extent of the provision that God must have made for this unruly mob, even if they had been much smaller. A mob that constantly complained throughout the trip. God is truly amazing.