The meaning of "aluf/elef" depends on context. Sometimes it means "1000," sometimes "contingent," and sometimes (like in the Book of Mormon), "regiment." Samson killed "1000" Philistines, plainly with "contingent" in mind, a dozen or so. Still a remarkable feat of arms.The 603 "thousands" in Exodus work out nicely to "contingents," and a total of some tens of thousands of Israelites. A lot, but not an unmanageable number.
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