Context: Deuteronomy 32:10 10 In a desert land he found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye, ... 13 He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields. He nourished him with honey from the rock, and with oil from the flinty crag, 14 with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats, with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat. You drank the foaming blood of the grape. Problem: The Bible informs us that the children of Israel wandered in the “desert” for 40 years (cf. Ex. 19:2; 23:31). They numbered over 600,000 adult men (Ex. 12:37; Num. 1:1-4:49), which would be a total population of some 2 million. But, Deuteronomy 32:13-14 speaks of there being plenty of produce for them and their flocks, which seems highly improbable for this many people and flocks in a “desert.”
Deuteronomy 32:1 - 52
ESV - 1 Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak, and let the earth hear the words of my mouth. 2 May my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like gentle rain upon the tender grass, and like showers upon the herb.
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First, I would say that, despite the description of the wilderness in the passage cited in the question as "a barren and howling waste", it also states in that same passage that God "fed him with the fruit of the fields." This implies to me the existence of arable or pasture land, particularly in connection with the various springs or oases noted in Scripture, where the Israelites camped during the years of their wandering. Also, even if that land was not naturally available, God might have played a supernatural role in providing it, in the same way that He gave the people manna and quails to eat. In addition, the existence of the other nomadic peoples of the region that are mentioned in Scripture (who would have had their own livestock to support) indicates to me that the land through which the Israelites journeyed could not have been completely barren in that respect.
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