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 How long were the Israelites in Egypt?

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maflynn
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PostSubject: How long were the Israelites in Egypt?   Tue Aug 26, 2008 1:07 pm

Genesis 15:13-14
Then the Lord said to him, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.

Exodus 12:40
40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years.

Galatians 3:15-18
15 Brothers, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. 17 What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. 18 For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
NIV

So we have in Genesis we have God telling Abraham they will be enslaved and mistreated for 400 years. Exodus telling us that the time in Egypt was 430 years and Galatians saying that between the promise to Abraham and the law 430 years passed.

Lets add a little more confusion to the conversation Smile

Genesis 46:11
11 The sons of Levi:
Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

Numbers 26:58-59
(Kohath was the forefather of Amram; 59 the name of Amram's wife was Jochebed, a descendant of Levi, who was born to the Levites in Egypt. To Amram she bore Aaron, Moses and their sister

Hereís my point with the preceding passages. Kohath was Leviís son and they entered into Egypt, Kohath had Amram, who had Moses. Basically Moses is a second generation Israelite who was born in Egypt. Even when you factor in the extended lifespans of the patriarchs its difficult to get to 430 years in two generations. Especially when you consider that Moses was 80 years old when he led the nation out of Egypt, that leaves 350 years in one generation.

I like this translation better but I'm not sure which one is truly more accurate since I'm not a Hebrew expert..

Exodus 12:40
40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
KJV

Hereís the subtle difference. The sojourn of the children of Israel were 430 years, not there dwelling in Egypt and this aligns itself with the Galation's passage.

So what do you guys think?.
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rogermugs
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PostSubject: Re: How long were the Israelites in Egypt?   Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:54 pm

hey maflynn


i have a couple of thoughts on this... first related to the generational gap. I've definitely heard before that the generations mentioned throughout the bible are often sort of... almosts... that is the writers will sometimes say so and so was the son of someone when really they were several generations down the line. It just made more sense to leave out the sort of 'unimportant' people in between...

so that may explain the year gappage... but i dont know.

as for the specifics of the years.. is 400 years? 430? more? - I dont know about this... i'm also not really sure...

here are a couple of resources first of all:

http://users.aristotle.net/~bhuie/210.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Exodus

i tend to take this stuff as "more or less" kinds of dates. not that they were incompetent about dates back then, but that the matter isn't pressed much to be that specific...

i'm kinda curious to hear how long the egyptians said they were there... there has to be some sort of record they kept...

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maflynn
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PostSubject: Re: How long were the Israelites in Egypt?   Sat Aug 30, 2008 7:21 am

rogermugs wrote:
hey maflynn


i have a couple of thoughts on this... first related to the generational gap. I've definitely heard before that the generations mentioned throughout the bible are often sort of... almosts... that is the writers will sometimes say so and so was the son of someone when really they were several generations down the line. It just made more sense to leave out the sort of 'unimportant' people in between...

so that may explain the year gappage... but i dont know.
I've heard that explanation in different parts of the bible but to be honest, that's can be a little reckless when we uncover something that we don't understand. We just say the Bible omitted a specific piece of information that accounts for the difference. The wording is pretty clear about Moses Lineage and I take the Bible literally besides using Galations, it makes total sense to have only two generations. The 400 vs. 430 is less of a concern or an issue as mentioned in the links. It could be just when the counting started.

I kind of think the KJV has it right, their sojourn lasted 430 years not their captivity but if I say that why is every other translation wrong?

Quote :

i'm kinda curious to hear how long the egyptians said they were there... there has to be some sort of record they kept...
You know being that your country was destroyed by God, your Army drowned in the red sea, I'd be surprised if they had a detailed record of what had happened or how long the Israelites were slaves.
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Nathan
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PostSubject: Re: How long were the Israelites in Egypt?   Mon Sep 01, 2008 1:56 am

I just looked up Genesis 15:13-14 in my commentary set (WBC). He pointed out that there is a chiasmus here with verse 16: oppress - 400 years - fourth generation - return. Note the wording itself will vary based on your translation. He also points out that the figure 400 years is probably just a rounded number indicating that their use of the term generation is a symbolic or rounded 100 years per generation.

As far as your other comment about the 350 year gap in generations... Remember that this passage is not a scientific record of specific facts, which is how our minds are used to thinking of data. There can be a lot of things missing that we might like to have, so we must be content with whatever has been transmitted to us. Another good example of this is the edited genealogies found in Matthew. Also I'm not an expert on genealogies or anything, but I'd recommend not getting too caught up in numbers or figures that are thousands of years old and not coming to us from someone with as modern scientific mindset.

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rogermugs
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PostSubject: Re: How long were the Israelites in Egypt?   Mon Sep 01, 2008 8:10 am

Quote :

I've heard that explanation in different parts of the bible but to be honest, that's can be a little reckless when we uncover something that we don't understand. We just say the Bible omitted a specific piece of information that accounts for the difference. The wording is pretty clear about Moses Lineage and I take the Bible literally besides using Galations, it makes total sense to have only two generations. The 400 vs. 430 is less of a concern or an issue as mentioned in the links. It could be just when the counting started.

I kind of think the KJV has it right, their sojourn lasted 430 years not their captivity but if I say that why is every other translation wrong?

i tend to think its a bad idea to JUST take the bible literally... that is, when david says he became a worm it doesn't mean he was actually a worm, its a poetic device... in the same way I agree with nathan's response... just because it's not how we write histories today (with almosts, or abouts) doesn't mean its any less accurate, or that it should be discounted for its writing style of its day...

but i can see how it could be a slippery slope

Quote :

You know being that your country was destroyed by God, your Army drowned in the red sea, I'd be surprised if they had a detailed record of what had happened or how long the Israelites were slaves

good call.

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maflynn
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PostSubject: Re: How long were the Israelites in Egypt?   Tue Sep 02, 2008 8:33 am

rogermugs wrote:
i tend to think its a bad idea to JUST take the bible literally... that is, when david says he became a worm it doesn't mean he was actually a worm, its a poetic device... in the same way I agree with nathan's response... just because it's not how we write histories today (with almosts, or abouts) doesn't mean its any less accurate, or that it should be discounted for its writing style of its day...
I agree where the context uses symbolism or poetry but by the same token, I'm not about to say that because I do not understand verse that it must have omitted information. I think that is a slippery slope.

As for the genealogy, I'd rather air conservative side, especially in this circumstance. The Bible is stating only a couple of generations. We're not talking about the genealogies of Genesis starting from Adam. There's enough evidence to show that they author - Moses would not exclude his direct forefathers to Levi when writing the book and because there are fairly long genealogies in Genesis.

I don't have an iron clad reason for the differences, but I do lean towards the idea that the 400 years was meant as the time span from the covenant with Adam to the exodus as opposed to the 400 years being in egypt. Because the scripture is a little confusing on this subject, I cannot say for sure and in the scheme of things, its not a huge issue. A nice topic to banter about but not to lose sight on the important issues recorded in the book of Exodus.
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