I wrote on this subject previously here, https://gottadobetterthanthis.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/literalness-or-is-it-idolatry/, dealing with insistence on literalness as being, perhaps, idolatrous.

Here I’m looking at the assertions in Deuteronomy and pointing out that it is either an absurd error or isn’t meant to be taken literally. Moses could not comprehend the number of stars, but God knows, and knew just as well then. 

1These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan […] Moses spoke to the people of Israel according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment to them,[…] Moses undertook to explain this law, […]

9“At that time I said to you, ‘I am not able to bear you by myself. 10The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven. 11May the LORD, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!

The number of stars is about 10^24, one thousand times more is, of course, 10^27. Wow. Lots of Israelites. (Just descendants of Abraham, not the rest of us.)

Obviously Moses is feeling overwhelmed, and I’m willing to forgive him for the hyperbole with regard to the numbers, but it was Moses, and it is in context of being the words of the LORD. It is impossible to take the statement literally. Though, why shouldn’t we if we are to do so elsewhere?

Deuteronomy states this three times:

http://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/1-10.htmhttp://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/10-22.htmhttp://biblehub.com/deuteronomy/28-62.htm, and this third is significant in that it speaks to the future and refers to their numbers as of the stars as being in the past, and Israel will be numbered few because of their faithlessness.

As a side note, has the land of Israel ever looked like this?

6“The LORD our God said to us in Horeb, ‘You have stayed long enough at this mountain. 7Turn and take your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in the Negeb and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates. 8See, I have set the land before you. Go in and take possession of the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and to their offspring after them.’