When did the four hundred and thirty years of Genesis 15 start?


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Abram wondered how much longer he would have to remain a stranger in the Land of Promise, and if he would ever see the fulfillment of God’s promises. The Lord therefore revealed the answer to him saying: “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” (Genesis 15:13).

This verse along with Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:17 and other evidence make it clear that the four hundred and thirty years starts from God’s original call to Abraham to the establishment of Israel as a nation at the time of the Exodus (Genesis 12:3, 4; Exodus 12:40). This was the time of sojourn, first in Canaan and then in Egypt. This four hundred and thirty years period includes the time from Abraham’s call to leave Haran to Jacob’s actual descent into Egypt 215 years later, and that the interval between Jacob’s entry into Egypt and the Exodus was another 215 years.

Abraham would remain a wanderer as long as he lived, as would his descendants for four generations. The land of their sojourn is not mentioned in the vision, but its fulfillment is made clear in that both Canaan and Egypt were included. Canaan was economically dependent upon Egypt during the days of Abraham and Isaac, and politically dependent as well under the Hyksos kings in Jacob’s and Joseph’s time. So, it is not strange to find both lands included in the singular word “a land.” In the time of Moses, Palestine was considered a part of the Egyptian empire. Therefore, it is not uncommon for the author to include Canaan in the term “Egypt.”

The prophecy that the fourth generation of those who had entered Egypt would leave it (Genesis 15:16) and thus fulfill God promise (Exodus 6:16–20) came to pass just as God predicted.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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