I have a bit of a complicated question about the population of the Israelites at the time of the Exodus and then at the time of the first census. J.W. Wenham (see here https://legacy.tyndalehouse.com/tynbul/Library/TynBull_1967_18_02_Wenham_LargeNumbersOT.pdf) understood "eleph" to be referring to military captains, which solves many problems associated with large numbers in the Old Testament.
In his paper, he estimates the Exodus population at around 70,000. Though, I'm having a hard time understanding what he believes the Israelite population to be at the time of the first census in Numbers in his paper.
My question is, based off 1 Corinthians 10:8, when Paul says 23,000 died at the golden calf incident (3,000 killed by Levites and 20,000 by the plague in Exodus 32), does understanding "eleph" to be a military term line up with the estimated population at the Exodus (Exodus 12:37) going down by 20,000 to what the estimated population would be in the first census in Numbers (Numbers 1)?
In other words, given the understanding of "eleph" as a military term, what is the total estimated population of Israel from the information in Exodus 12:37, and what is the total estimated population of Israel from the information in Numbers 1, and do we see a 20,000 person drop as Paul says?