How long were the children of Israel in Egypt? I always was taught, based on Genesis 15:13, that it was 400 years. However if you look elsewhere, scripture says the bondage of Israel was 430 years, (Exo 12:40, Gal 3:17) yet, when I started digging deeper, using the genealogies in Genesis, I found it couldn’t possibly be more than 350 years. Why does the Bible seem to have different time periods? This apparent contradiction can be fairly confusing, and is generally ignored by pastors and theologians all over the globe. They take what appears to be an open and shut case (Gen 15:13) and ignore other passages that contradict it. There are a couple of problems with this; first, they are taking verses out of context, or completely ignoring the context. Secondly, they refuse to dig a little deeper for something that isn’t even hidden; a simple surface reading of the context is required.
My purpose is to show that just because you’ve been taught something, it doesn’t make it true. And more importantly, we should always follow the truth, no matter where it takes us.
I’ll start by laying down some ground rules:
· First, truth rules over all
· Second, God’s word is truth.
· Third, God’s word cannot contradict itself.
· Fourth, if something does appear to contradict, we simply do not understand it properly.
Now, how can we solve this apparent problem? We’ll look up what the genealogies the Bible gives us and see what the maximum possible time of bondage would be: Kohath, Levi’s son, lived 133 years (Exo 6:18 ) His son, Amram lived 137 years. (Exodus 6:20)And Moses, Amram’s son, was 80 years old when the Exodus started. (Exo 7:7) 133+137+80 = 350
If you were to look at the genealogies given in Genesis 5:3-29; 7:6; 11:10-26, and add up all the dates, you’d find that Abraham was born in the year 1948 AM (Anno Mundi – Year of the Earth’s creation.)
Abraham’s Birth 1948 AM
Isaac’s Birth (Gen 21:5) 2048 AM
Jacob’s Birth (Gen 25:26) 2108 AM
Jacob was 130 years old when they entered Egypt (Gen 47:9) 2238 AM
Ok, now we can start uncovering some truths:
Galatians 3:16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. 17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.
What was Paul trying to say? Well, from the time of Abraham’s covenant with God to the giving of the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai was 430 years. My opinion is the “His Seed-but as of One” is talking about Isaac. Here’s the verse about that covenant,
GENESIS 12:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. (NKJV)
Ok, you might be thinking, ‘Oh! Abram was 75 when the covenant was established.’ But that’d be wrong. The verse says; Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Not, “He was seventy five when he received the covenant.” So, how old was he? Well, in other places in scripture, (Genensis 11:13, 15:7, Nehemiah 9:7) it tells us that God brought Abram out of Ur before he brought him out of Haran. This fact wasn’t lost on the earliest members of the early church. Stephen said,
ACTS 7:2 And he said, “Brethren and fathers, listen: The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, BEFORE he dwelt in Haran, 3 and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.'”
Ok, that’s all well and good, but does the Bible tell us how long Abram’s stay in Haran lasted? Thankfully, Genesis 15 helps us understand the answer,
GENESIS 15:13 Then He said to Abram: “Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years. 14 And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions. 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.
Now, you’re probably thinking, ‘But wait, where did those thirty years go to?’ Who was Abraham’s heir to the covenant? Isaac was,(Gen 17:19) he was the child by whom God continued the covenant. So, the starting period of the phrase, “Your descendants will be strangers in a land not theirs”, starts with Isaac’s birth. Not the enslavement of Israel. If Isaac was born 2048 AM, and Abraham was 100 years old when he was born, then the thirty “missing years” aren’t missing at all, God gave the covenant when Abram was about seventy, and then reaffirmed it thirty years later, but He was still talking about the same point in the future, when he would give the law on mount Sinai.
So, let’s count 400 years from Isaac’s birth to Mount Sinai that gives us the year 2448 AM. So, that takes care of the “400 Vs. 430” problem. But we’re left with another problem; how long were the children of Israel actually in Egypt? As we saw above Jacob and his family entered Egypt in 2238 AM. So subtracting 2238 AM from 2448 AM, and that gives us 210 years! This reconciles all the “apparent” contradictions.
Sadly, a lot of Christians don’t take the time to dig deeper into God’s scriptures, instead they rely on Pastors or Priests to tell them what God “really said” or what he actually “meant.” It’s like we’re in a Revived “Dark Age”, except we have enough information and technology to where we no longer have an excuse.
Now, more than ever, the church has truly become a conglomeration of sheep. We follow every wind of doctrine, We go by what feels right and what will cause the least amount of controversy. We need to grow past this spiritual funk we’re in; we’ve forgotten what really matters, and who really is in charge. We get so hung up on man-made traditions and doctrines; we’ve become a dysfunctional family. All that matters is what God says about his word, not what your pastor thinks, not what the Televangelist preaches, not what your Friends feel, not what your parents say, not even what you believe. God said it that settles it. Do we really want to go against The Almighty creator? Are we that stupid? Well, I once was, I don’t want to go back. Will you wise up, or stay stupid?