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Were Abraham's Descendants Afflicted
400 Years or 430 Years?
Does The Bible Contradict Itself?
By Ken Raggio
One of the so-called "contradictions" in the Bible is about "How long were Abraham's descendants AFFLICTED? 400 years, or 430 years?" The Bible makes what appears (at first glance) to be a contradiction.
But on careful examination, there is no contradiction at all.
There are two separate statements in the scriptures.
POINT 1. AFFLICTION - 400 years
Genesis 15:13-14 tells us that God said to Abram, "Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a STRANGER IN A LAND THAT IS NOT THEIRS, and shall serve them; and they shall AFFLICT THEM FOUR HUNDRED YEARS; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance."
This verse says that THEY WILL BE AFFLICTED AS A STRANGER IN A LAND THAT IS NOT THEIRS. This affliction was not limited to their bondage in Egypt. (Bible scholars estimate that Israel was actually IN EGYPT for only about 215 years.) It also included their living in Canaan from the days of Abraham unto Joseph. They were nomads throughout that time, and were afflicted by the people of Canaan. Those years presumably began when Hagar and Ishmael first began to despise Sarah and Isaac.
It is a worthwhile observation that Abraham's descendant, Isaac, began to be afflicted the day he was weaned.
POINT 2. SOJOURNING - 430 years.
"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years," Exodus 12:40.
This does NOT say that they dwelt in Egypt 430 years. It says their SOJOURNING was 430 years. They SOJOURNED 430 years. They were AFFLICTED 400 years.
"And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt," Exodus 12:41.
I believe that period includes EVERYTHING that occurred between the day God made the Covenant Promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:2 until the Exodus.
"Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing," Genesis 12:1-2.
If their SOJOURNING (From the days of Abraham until the Exodus) was 430 years, and their AFFLICTION was 400 years, then I can only conclude that the FIRST THIRTY YEARS of Abraham's descendants' SOJOURN were WITHOUT AFFLICTION.
"And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place," Acts 7:6-7.
IS THERE ANY PROOF THAT THIS IS THE CASE?
When God FIRST made Covenant with Abram in Genesis 12:4, he was 75 years old and living in Haran, Syria. Genesis 12:4 - "So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran."
Sarai gave her maid Hagar to Abram after they had been in Canaan for 10 years. Genesis 16:3 - "And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife."
As SOON as Hagar conceived, she began to despise Sarai. Genesis 16:4 - "And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes."
But God dealt with Hagar after Ishmael was born, and the angel of the Lord commanded Hagar to SUBMIT to Sarai. Genesis 16:9 - "And the angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands."
Abraham was 86 years old when Ishmael was born. Genesis 16:16 - "And Abram was fourscore and six years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram."
Abraham was 99 years old when he was circumcised, and Ishmael was 13 when Abraham circumcised him. Genesis 17:24-25 - "And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin."
Abraham was 100 years old when ISAAC was born to Sarah. Genesis 21:5 - "And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him."
The day that Isaac was weaned, Ishmael mocked, setting into motion a traumatic chain of events that ended in the exile of Hagar and Ishmael. It was common in ancient times for Jewish mothers to wean their children at about the age of 3-4 years old. Genesis 21:8-9 - "And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking."
Abraham was 75 when God first made covenant with him. He was about 105 when his son Isaac was weaned, and Ishmael first expressed his hostilities. Thirty years.
From the DAYS that God first made Covenant with Abraham, until Hagar and Ishmael became adversaries in his household was about 30 years.
So, therefore, we can see the difference between the scriptures:
The 430 Years of SOJOURN for Abraham and his descendants began with the FIRST COVENANT.
The 400 Years of AFFLICTION for Abraham and his descendants began with the hostilities of ISHMAEL on the day Isaac was weaned.
Both periods ended with the EXODUS from Egypt.
That is how I see it.
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