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Bible History Timeline 430 Years In Egypt

Here’s a letter pointing out a possible error and an overlooked fact.

I have really enjoyed using the Bible Timeline along with my studies, and appreciate this awesome resource. It really helps to have a clearer picture of all of the events and how they relate to one another. Thank you for the PDF version of the timeline. This is a great bonus!
I know that the timeline states that there may be inconsistencies due to a number of different factors, but I was curious about one in particular and hoping you could explain it to me.
In Exodus 12:40 it says that the Israelites lived in Egypt for a total of 430 years to the day when Moses lead them out. On the timeline there is only about 200 years between the time when they came to Egypt and the Exodus of Moses. This seems like a big discrepency, and I’m am interested to know why this doesn’t appear to line up with scripture. I understand the enormous task of trying to put all of this information on a single resource, and I know it can’t be 100% accurate due to conflicts in the historical record. I was just hoping you could help clear this up for me.

The dating of the time in Egypt – either 215 or 430 years – is one point of contention among those striving to develop a Biblical chronology.

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Egypt: the land of Mizraim

We used James Ussher’s chronology for our biblical dates. As you know, his chronology is the most widely accepted. The question becomes why did he place the dates when he did. Bishop Ussher worked with a variety of biblical manuscripts and historical resources. The verses mentioned do say the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years in the Masoretic text.

Other manuscripts (the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint) add the words “and Canaan” after Egypt in the above quote, so that it reads “the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt and Canaan was 430 years”. This made the beginning of the 430 year period when Abraham arrived in Canaan. This is 215 years earlier than Jacob’s arrival in Egypt, and would shorten the Israelites’ period in Egypt to 215 years (215 + 215 = 430). This was the view taken by James Ussher.

However, in Acts 7:6, Stephen states that Abraham’s descendants were to be “enslaved and mistreated four hundred years”. But then in Galatians 3:16-17 Paul makes reference to a 430 year period from Abraham leaving Haran to Moses receiving “The Law”. As you can see, biblical chronologists work to coordinate all the verses and use multiple sources.

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23 thoughts on “Bible History Timeline 430 Years In Egypt

  1. The 430 years of Ex 12:40-41 begins at Jacob’s birth. Jacob entered Egypt at the age of 130; and 2238 years after Adam sinned. They spent 260 years in Egypt and 40 in the wilderness. However, the time spent in the wilderness is included in the 430 years of Ex 12:40-41. And, the 480 years of 1KI 6:1 begins at the END OF Exodus in BCE 1438; which occurs 2538 years after Adam sinned.

    1. Where do you get that info from Earl?

    2. The promise was made to Abraham and confirmed to jacob ps105:9-10, confirmation is last statement, last statement of God was made to Jacob of the same, when God said, do not fear to go Egypt , after that 430 years passed and then law was given, Paul talked about two things in one thing: promised made to Abraham, promised confirmed to jacob for law IChr16:16-17, ps105:9-10

      1. The children of Israel, not Jacob, neither Isaac, none Abraham, Gen15:13-16 was told that his seed will be in strange land, and afflicted for 400 years in that land, and on fourth generation came back to Mamre where Abram was living, so Abram, Isaac and Jacob were not inclusive in 430 in Egypt. And Paul was talking about promise made to Abram, and that promise confirmed. The text say, the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law which was 430 years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise none effect.
        Paul illustrated this by verse 15 say, if the covenant is confirmed, no one to disannul. The scripture make it clear that the promise was made to Abram, but confirmation was made to Jacob for the law, hence after God talked to Jacob at Beersheba, next communication was law to Moses, so Paul was confirming Exod12:40, 41, Gal3:15-17.

    3. Ex. 12:40

    4. Earl, the Septuagint contain the answer. The later translations lost (in capitals) part of the verse:
      Exodus 12:40  Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in CANAAN AND Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. 
      The breakdown is 215 years in Canaan and 215 years in Egypt. And they left Egypt on the same day that they moved into Egypt.

  2. The Temple was started 480 after thr Exodus ENDS in BCE 958 and 3018 after Adam fell (and time on earth) began. 6000 – 3018 would mean that Christ would return 2982 years after BCE 958; or in the year CE 2924. On the Hebrew calendar this is Tishri 10, 5785 (the day of atonement) or Yon Kippur.; which begins at sunset on Tishri 9. On our calendar this is the 11th of October, 2024.

  3. It is an interesting question, but the answer seems inadequate to me for the following reason: Abraham was NOT an Israelite, Issac was NOT an Israelite. They were Hebrews, but not Israelites. The sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt had to start with Jacob and his sons moving to Egypt. And, if you would say “the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt and Canaan,” it still has to start with Jacobs return to Canaan from Haran, because before that there were no IsraelITES in Canaan.

  4. The sojourn of the Israelites had to start with the children of Jacob, because Jacob WAS Israel, and his children were the ISRAELITES (children of Israel). Abraham and Isaac were Hebrews, but NOT Israelites. The verses in question say “Israelites” or “children of Israel,” not “Hebrews.”

    1. I think you made a good point.
      The text says, the children of Israel, not Israel, neither Isaac, none Abraham.

  5. A couple of problems:
    First: Abraham could not be referred to because he wasn’t an Israelite or of the “children of Israel”. Jacob, his grandson, was renamed Israel. So the children of Israel entered Egypt when Joseph (his son) was sold into Egypt
    Second: Ex 12:40 does say that they were in there for 430 years. The addition that is suggested “and Canaan” cannot be made because the very next verse says that “at the end of the 430 years” …they “went out of the land of Egypt”. No mention of Canaan there.
    Gen 15:13 is a prophesy that they will be slaves for 400 years there. They sojourned there longer because at first they were not slaves but later became such.
    It is very clear from those verses that they were in Egypt for 430 years.

    1. Guy…your comment is both rational and realistic. It aligns with scripture.

    2. 400 years and 430 years are not the same time frame. 400 years is when the Israelites were scattered all over the face of this earth in the land of captivity.

    3. According to the Samaritan Pentateuch Exodus 12:40 “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and fathers of them, who dwelt in Canaan and in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.”

      430 years before the exodus was when God spoke to Abram at the age of 70 saying that his seed would dwell in a land that is not theirs for 400 years. The exodus occurs 400 years after the birth of Isaac.

      Esau and Jacob are said to be living in “the land wherein they were strangers”.(Gen 36:7) Also, when Abraham purchases land to bury Sarah he claims to be a stranger and sojourner. (Gen 23:4)|reference=Exod.12&options=VNHUG

      1. I think your overall argument has merit as the Hebrew has no preposition attached to the 400 years of Genesis 15:13 so it could in my view as much be “in 400 years” as “for 400 years” But your assertion that Abram was 70 when God spoke to him makes little sense to me as a way of also explaining 430 v’s 400 since in Gen 12:4 he is already aged 75.

    4. First of all, I want to address Abraham being a Hebrew, verses the offspring of Jacob being the children of Israel. Abraham was the father of the promise. It was him that God blessed. He begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob. There would have been no children of Israel if the seed of Abraham wasn’t blessed. In Genesis 39:17 Joseph, the son of Jacob was called a Hebrew. In Exodus 1:15 the midwives in Egypt were called Hebrews. Exodus 2:11, Moses witnessed an Egyptian striking one of his Hebrew brethren. The Children of Israel were Hebrews.

      Second, Moses spent 40 years in Egypt, the second was in Midian, and the third was in Egypt/Wilderness. Moses died at the age of 120 years. If the 430 years began with Jacob, would it compute for 3 to four generations to pass, or would it make more sense to back it up to Abram?

  6. Galatians 3:16-17 (KJV)
    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.]

  7. Act 7:6 God spoke to him in this way: `Your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and ill-treated for four hundred years.
    7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ God said, `and afterwards they will come out of that country and worship me in this place.’

    Stephan’s speech to the Sanhedrin. His face was like that of an angle, that is he was lit up with the Holy Spirit, so we know his words were true.

    God told Abraham that they would be OUT OF THE COUNTRY for 400 years, not there in Canaan. They would come back to Canaan after that time.
    They were in Egypt for 430 years, they became slaves within the 1st 30 years or so, during the lifetime of Joseph. They likely sold themselves to Pharaoh, same as the Egyptians did.

    I’ll believe the Holy Spirit every time.

    1. Dick, I really don’t see how you arrive at the Hebrews being slaves during Joseph’s lifetime. Why would his father have been afforded a state funeral ending in Canaan, and be mourned by so many senior members of Pharaoh’s government if that were so? (Genesis 50:1-14) Also how could 70 people entering Egypt (Genesis 46:27) become a takeover security threat for the nation in just 30 years? (Exodus 1:7-9)

  8. Check the genealogy of Levi, who came out of Canaan with his father Jacob and the rest of the family.
    Exodus 6:16
    This is the Korah of the rebellion, which occurred after the exodus.
    Numbers 16:1 gives the same list only in reverse order.
    Genesis 46:11 gives us Levi and his son Kohath as leaving Canaan.
    There do not seem to be be any missing names in these lists.
    Only 4 generations (and two of them already alive at the move to Egypt) are not sufficient for 430 years.

  9. Genesis 15:16 makes it clear that Abraham’s descendants would come out of Egypt in the fourth generation. Exodus 6:14-25 gives not only the four generations but also their life spans: Levi – 137 years, Kohath – 133 years, Amram – 137 years (first three); Aaron is the fourth generation and Aaron was 83 (3 years older than Moses) at the start of the Exodus. Kohath was among those who entered Egypt (Gen 46:11). His 133 years plus Amram’s 137 plus Aaron’s 89 total only 359 years. The sojourn in Egypt could not have been 430 years.

    1. Hi Randall – There is certainly some debate about this. You can see some ideas laid out about it here You can find additional resources by searching the question. Thank you for your thoughts!

  10. I have really enjoyed digging into this. I am still not fully persuaded by the answersingenesis link although it is well argued. My reservations are (1) I don’t clearly see the 64 year gap between the death of Joseph and the birth of Moses except as a plug number that fits and (2) the taunting of Ishmael (albeit of an Egyptian mother) who was immediately expelled hardly seems like the beginning of oppression, especially as Ishmael and Isaac buried Abraham together. I am drawn to the central argument of Drew Washicheck, esp as in Gen 14:4 the translation of in the 13th year omits the preposition for “in” in the Masoretic text, meaning that Gen 15:13 also without a preposition around the 400 years could logically be translated the same way. So I lean towards that as the best and most straightforward explanation unless someone can show me that the 64 years asserted by Ainsworth can be proven.

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