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Feeding the 5000


DavidStack

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In the famous Bible story of feeding the 5000, Jesus and his 12 disciples feed 5000 men with 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. But, the 5000 only counts the men, and since these people have been following Jesus for over 2 days, it can be assumed that they are with their families. On average, we'll say that each man has a wife and two kids, speaking that some of the men weren't married and some of the men had much larger families. That means that this story is actually the feeding of the 20000.

First, let's look at how much bread and fish would be needed to feed these people. According to Mark 6:42, the people "ate and were satisfied." These people hadn't eaten for 2 days as they've been following Jesus, so to eat and be satisfied, each person would need at least 2 fish and a loaf of bread. There needed to be 40000 fish and 20000 loaves of bread, meaning that Jesus multiplied the amount of fish by 20000 and the amount of bread by 4000, and that doesn't even include the extra 12 basket-fulls of bread that the disciples picked up afterwards. That's crazy!

We can also see how long it would take to pass the bread around. The passage states that the people were divided into groups of 50 and 100, so if the groups are close to equal, there are 133 groups of 100 and 134 groups of 50 (267 groups in total). With large groups like that, the distance between the center of one group to the center of another was probably around 30 meters (close to 100 feet). The disciples had to pass around a lot of food to each group, so they likely stayed all together. Thus, they had to walk a 26700 meters to go to each group, and since the people ate and were satisfied, they probably wanted seconds, so that's actually 53400 meters with an average velocity of 1.4 m/s (the average walking speed). Using kinematics, we know that v = x/t, so t = x/v. Therefore, it would take 38143 seconds for the disciples to pass out that food, which is about 10 hours and 36 minutes. That's a lot of time!

By understanding physics, you can appreciate the incredible awe of this miracle.

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