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The biblical narrative in Exodus 11 tells that all firstborn sons of Egypt died in a single night. While maybe there's no historical evidence of that, it would be interesting to know what was the estimated population in Egypt in 1446 BC, so we could deduce the number of (supposedly) killed children.

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The exact population is a bit unclear. Estimates for the time period fall in between 2 and 4 million. This area of Egypt was one of the more densely populated areas in the world at that time due to the fertility of the Nile delta.

In the Biblical account, Exodus 12:30 says "for there was not a house without someone dead". Family size is also tough to nail down. Based on typical ancient family structures, we can assume that the average extended family was between 10 and 20 people rather than the lower numbers we see today. So, we can figure that the death toll was probably at least between 100K and 200K, assuming at least one death per extended family (household) with an affected population of about 3 million, give or take.

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Can you give sources for the 2-4M figure? – Felix Goldberg Dec 14 '12 at 23:14

The Wikipedia's World Population Page shows that is estimated that the world population grew from 35 million in 2000 BC to 50 million in 1000 BC. This doesn't answers the question but suggests that Egypt's population could be somewhere between a million to ten million at that time.

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The Book of Exodus, as near as scholars can tell, was written during the time of the Babylonian Exile (in the 6th Century BC). That means any actual real events depicted would have had to have been part of an oral tradition among the Jewish people for nearly 1,000 years. Expecting such a work to be historically factual is rather unreasonable.

During the Babylonian Exile there would have been a lot of pressure on the Jewish people to assimilate. Such a process had already destroyed the 10 northern tribes during their exile in Assyria. So you can see where a story of how they had persevered as a unified people through a similar enslavement before would have been socially useful (if not outright essential to their continued existence as a separate people).

Thus Exodus was never intended to be a modern-style work of historical event documentation. Exodus is a story about who the Jews were as a people, and what was special about their relationship to their God. Don't miss the forest for the trees.

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This is not an answer to the question. The question is not about the accuracy of the Bible, that is only what sparked the question and the asker acknowledges that.. The question is "what was the estimated population living in Egypt around 1446 BC [the supposed time of the Biblical Exodus}?" – Schwern Dec 11 '15 at 21:22
The scholars have been telling tall tales forever. The scientific method was invented to be ignored, I suppose. – Ricky Dec 11 '15 at 21:32

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