It says in Exodus 12:38:

"A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds—a great deal of livestock."

Do any Scriptural or other sources say what this mixed multitude was composed of? The original Hebrew says "ereb" per Strong's Concordance, but there aren't any specifics mentioned at all.

  • Fun Fact: I was listening to some hassidic speaches in which they were claiming the "mixed multitude" is like the present day illuminati, controlling the world, so it might be like how some protestants view Jesuits: A type of menacing force responsible for all the rebellions in the wilderness, and continuing on even to the present day. Point being, there is a huge tradition about this erev rav subverting the "true" believers, e.g. amazon.com/dp/B01KKFBHF6/…
    – Robert
    Aug 8, 2021 at 17:38

2 Answers 2


In Ex 12:38, the word translated "mixed" is עֵרֶב (ereb) which occurs about 15 times in the OT. It is used in several ways:

  1. "mixed" group of people or "foreigners" who have not become Israelites, Ex 12:38, Neh 13:3, Jer 25:20, 24, 50:37.
  2. "woof" as in warp and woof of woven cloth, Lev 13:48-59
  3. "Arabia" (the country), or "mixed peoples", Eze 30:5.

It appears that following the series of miracles that God performed in Egypt, many locals, Egyptians and others, decided to leave with the Israelites and joint them in their trek to Worship the God of heaven and earth. This had been going on for several generation previously.

When Jacob entered Egypt, his family numbered 75 people (Acts 7:14, Ex 1:5). Some of these were not direct descendants of Abraham such as the wives of the 12 patriarchs, notably Joseph’s own wife. 215 years and four generations later at the exodus, Israel’s army had over 600,000 men excluding women and children, (Ex 12:37, Num 1:46, etc) suggesting a total population of several million people, requiring many additions. This included a significant mixed multitude (Ex 12:38) showing that Israel obviously consisted of many non-biological Jews had joined. (Note that it is biologically impossible for Israelite numbers to have grown from 75 to several million biologically without many outside additions.)

Indeed, the Old Testament contains many examples of foreigners becoming part of Israel, indicating that the Israelite Covenant was open to all and was never exclusive. For example:

  • Abraham’s own household must have consisted of perhaps 2000 people just to be able to raise an army of 318 men to liberate Lot, Gen 14:14. Indeed, Abraham’s chief servant (from Damascus) was clearly a believer and very devout as shown in Gen 24.
  • Moses married a Midianite (Ex 2:16-21).
  • Caleb, who represented and led the tribe of Judah was a Kennizite (Num 32:12).
  • Rahab was a Canaanite (Josh 2:1, 2, Matt 1:5)
  • Ruth was Moabite (Ruth 1:4 16, 17, Matt 1:5) – these last two make King David descended from foreigners (Ruth 4:13-16).
  • Uriah was a Hittite (2 Sam 11:3)
  • King David’s elite personal regiment was Gittite, Philistines (1 Chron 18:17)
  • The Rechabites were Kenites (Jer 35:1-19)
  • Many other foreigners lived in Israel (1 Chron 22:2, 17, 2 Chron 30:25)
  • In Esther’s time “many of the people of the land became Jews” (Esther 8:17, 9:27)
  • Even in NT times, many Jewish synagogues were attended by godly gentiles converted to Judaism (Acts 13:16, 26, 16:14, 17:17)
  • Many Jewish proselytes came to worship in Jerusalem (John 20:20, Acts 2:9-11)
  • Jesus quotes Isa 56:7, “My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations”, Mark 11:17.
  • Further, biological Israelites could opt out of the covenant and be cut-off (Ex 30:33, 38, 31:14, Lev 7:20, 21, 25, 27).

Thus, it is abundantly clear that membership of Israel was always open to all and voluntary. See also “Pagan Salvation” for the logical extension of this idea. The distinction between a biological Jew/Israelite and a convert becomes extremely blurred if meaningful at all.


Thus, the Mixed multitude that left Egypt with Israel consisted of those who had been impressed with God's power and the religion of the Israelites and wished to leave Egypt behind.

  • Good answer. Why do you say 215 years though, instead of the 430 that is recorded?
    – Matt
    Aug 8, 2021 at 0:40
  • @Matt - the 430 years was the time from of Abraham settled in Palestine (Gal 3:16, 17), then a Provence of Egypt. The time from when Jacob went to Egypt to the Exodus was 215 years according to the Bible's internal Chronology and four generations.
    – Dottard
    Aug 8, 2021 at 8:03
  • Do you have a source for saying that "(Note that it is biologically impossible for Israelite numbers to have grown from 75 to several million biologically without many outside additions.)"? Did someone do calculations?
    – ConanG
    Sep 4, 2021 at 14:26
  • @ConanG - I did the calculations. If we say that there were 3 million people, that is an increase ratio of 40,000 which would require an increase in four generations of 14 times per generation. That is, every family would need to produce an average of more than 28 children.
    – Dottard
    Sep 4, 2021 at 21:22
  • @Dottard Would the mixed multitude be part a particular tribe or are they the so called sojourners. Jan 29 at 13:13

Some of these foreigners are not foreigners. Example Abraham had sons after Sarah's death. Midianite was Abrahams Son by Keturah Gen 25:2, 6

Moabite was Lots son by one of his daughters, when they fled Sodom

Noah son Ham had Canaan who Noah put a cures on that had Heth (gr grandson to Noah) Gen 10.

Some believe because Abraham Paid King Melchezadack Tithe, that this was a name given to Shem Noahs Oldest Son, which Abraham knew.

So Canaanites are Ham's Son.

These people many were distant cousins.

Further, Joseph was sold into slavery at 17, he was not interpreting dream until he was 28, and that meant they had 7 yrs of plenty so that makes Joseph at least 35-36 when he mets up with his brothers 3 trips from Israel to Egypt. The 75 were 11 brothers, Jacob, Rachel, Leah (which were Lemech daughters who was Rebecca's brother- so Rachel and Leah are first cousins to Jacob.

Then two handmaids which may also have been relatives. And 11 brothers had wives from their kindsmen. (Without any grand children that is 37) if they had 12 kids each... it is not hard to see where in 18 yrs Jacob had 75 & that is not including Joesph that already was in Egypt.

Further I do think there was more then 218 yrs. I think it was 430 yrs. 4 generations when they live 120 yrs. and Moses was 80 when he came back to get the Israelites. We know he was about 120 yrs old when he was taken to heaven.

  • Welcome to the site, Jeannie. You give some interesting points in your answer but have not yet commented on who the mixed multitude, who were foreigners to the offspring of Abraham, were. That is the point of the question (which is not about chronology). If you care to take the 'Tour' below, that will help you form answers that are truly hermeneutical, and not opinionated on more loosely related issues. The question did not actually ask for who, in the multitude, were not foreigners.
    – Anne
    Oct 3, 2021 at 10:14
  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Oct 3, 2021 at 13:08
  • 1
    My statement was to some of the folks the main answer replier gave. The problem is the "Foreigners" that were pointed out, were actually cousins and part of Abrahams Ancestry genealogy not all after him. So if they are directly related but before Abraham, then would you consider your grandmothers sister Aunt Betsy a forgiener. No. The way the question is worded however is in error, I am an Epidemiologist in profession and I have created the geneology of but you have to as from Noah, as he was hebrew. Abraham is 10 or 11 generations from Noah. Those folks are "kinsmen" not foreigners Oct 4, 2021 at 16:11
  • I gave references such as Genesis chapter 10. Oct 4, 2021 at 16:14
  • Fair comment, Jeannie!
    – Anne
    Oct 10, 2021 at 12:22

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