The 400 Years of Genesis 15 13
In this article we are going to be discussing the four hundred years in Genesis 15 13. Where was it? Was it really only four hundred years? And is this a future prophecy? I am writing this article because after further research, I see a major deception going around on the topic. I hope by the time we are finished you will have a better understanding of Exodus 12 40, Genesis 15 13, and the number of years of slavery in Egypt.
- "And he said unto 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;
When Did the Sojourning Start?
We know that this prophecy does not pertain to Abraham himself because he died in Genesis 25. It does not pertain to him, but his descendants. Since he had no descendants at this time, the starting point for the 400 years must have occurred in the future and not at that time. Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born, and seventy five years old when The Most High gave him the first promise in Genesis 12 4. This would account for twenty years, so the beginning of the four hundred years would have to occur at another time in his lifetime. We read that in Genesis 21 8.
Genesis 21 12 explains how Isaac is this seed. This is the point at which the four hundred year prophecy begins; five years after Isaac’s birth. So Isaac's seed is the one that will sojourn in this place as prophesied.
- "However, another difficulty might seem to arise from Exodus 12:40 where it says, 'The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years'. Is this a contradiction, error, or difficulty? Once again, this type of question actually reveals a very important, yet subtle way of thinking. It reveals how one approaches Scripture. If I am to come to Scripture and read a passage and ask, 'Is that wrong?' I am revealing that I do not truly believe Scripture is without error. The proper approach, since it is God’s infallible Word,is to ask, 'Since this cannot be in error, how is my understanding in error?'
- Once we realize this, we can then look at the passage and realize that this statement made by Moses actually adds clarity. When we think of the children or people of Israel we typically think of Jacob, his 12 sons, and their descendants. Remember though, the promise was not made to Jacob, but to Abraham. What Moses is subtly pointing out is that the nation of Israel did not start with Jacob, but with Abraham (Genesis 12:2 reveals that the nation of Israel began with him). Therefore, this passage is including Isaac and Abraham in the nation of Israel. Also, 430 years prior to the exodus is when Abraham first lived in Egypt. There is no contradiction or difficulty. Simply put, the nation was named after Jacob/Israel, but it started with Abraham.
- Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones also concludes in his The Chronology of the Old Testament that not only was Abraham a member of the nation of Israel, but that the 400 years of sojourning and affliction started with Isaac’s weaning at five years old when Ishmael mocked him. 3 This point about Isaac’s weaning and Ishmael’s mocking 30 years after the promise is also concluded by James Ussher in his The Annals of the World:
- Based on these verses (Ga 4:29, Ge 15:13, Ac 7:6), we conclude that this persecution started at this time when Isaac was five years old and Abraham made this feast. This was thirty years after Abraham left Haran. 4
- For a more detailed look at when and in what order these events took place, and to learn a few other interesting facts, see the timeline below. One interesting fact, for example, is that Isaac was still alive (he was 168) when Joseph was sold into slavery. (How Long Were the Israelites in Egypt? by David Wright on July 5, 2010)
The twenty five years, plus the five years equals thirty years; this is the difference between the four hundred years and the four hundred and thirty years. It's clear that the four hundred year prophecy and the four hundred and thirty years come at the same time in Exodus 12 40. This is confirmed in Acts 7 6. Remember, the prophecy said that his descendants would be afflicted four hundred years. Genesis 21 9 can be seen as the starting point of the affliction.
Now we can determine the number of years of slavery in Egypt counting the years forward from Genesis 12 4 to determine the passage of time to the death of Joseph. This would have been the earliest point of time to start to figure the slavery of Yisrael.
The three hundred and fifty years minus the two hundred and six years to Joseph’s death leaves us with sixty four years, which means Moses was born sixty four years after Joseph died. This is tied together when realizing that Moses’ mother was the granddaughter of Levi in Numbers 26 59.
Even though the beginning points of the two prophecies are thirty years apart, once the four hundred year prophecy begins they run simultaneously to conclusion: Exodus 12:40. The most time the children of Jacob spent in slavery in Egypt would have been one hundred fourty four years, but this does not take away the time of sojourning.
Proving This Is Not A Future Prophecy.
Acts 7:6. "See? Paul just gave a future prophecy saying that this would happen." Read it from verse 1. He isn't giving a future prophecy. He is referencing Genesis. After verse 6 he goes onto how Jacob was given the covenant and then they went to Egypt.
So as we can see, the four hundred year prophecy has already been fulfilled long ago in the time of Egypt. The idea that this is a future prophecy is a result of not understanding the timeline of the sojourning period and not reading verses in context. When we read Acts 7 6 and onward this is confirmed to not be a future prophecy. Please friends, read scripture in context and study to show yourself approved. It can be so easy to fall into a trap like this.
The idea that this prophecy is a future one fails on many points.
- Why would the Most High warn Abraham of a prophecy that would occur over thousands of years later, but not warn him about a prophecy that would come upon his descendants within only a few hundred years?
- Why do the scriptures referencing this prophecy then cut to stories on his descendants rather than describing this 400 years? It seems as if they would describe a prophecy to come over a thousand years later in later texts.
- How come there are no clear prophecies in the New Testament of this 400 years being given if this prophecy was not fulfilled? We get that when we read Isaiah and Revelations, but not here in this prophecy.
- The trade did not start with America. The first 19 or so Africans to reach the English colonies arrived in Jamestown, Virginia in 1619, but before that the slaves were taken to Europe (Africa and the Transatlantic Slave Trade By Dr Hakim Adim Last updated 2012-10-05)
Be careful when reading prophecies. By taking a few verses out of context you can lead yourself to a world of confusion and false prophecies. But trust in the Most High and he will have you covered.
Peace and blessings, and all praises to the Most High.