THE DURATION OF
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
PAUL J. RAY, JR.
From possibly as early as the LXX (ca. 250-150 B.C.1), there has
been a tradition that the 430 years in Exod 12:40 (or apparently
rounded to the 400 years of Gen 15:13) represent only 215 actual
of Israelite sojourn in
ing the sojourn in
verses, however, appears to indicate that the total years constituted
full period of time of the sojourn in
The Jewish historian Josephus (first century A.D.) provides a
divided testimony--one time apparently following the LXX, and
associating the rise of Joseph to power as vizier of
the Hyksos (Dynasties 15-16, ca. 1730-1575 B.C.2), and another time
following the MT.3 Rabbinic tradition as reflected in Seder ‘Olam
(second century A.D.)4 and Rashi (eleventh century A.D.)5 allows but
years for the sojourn in
The NT also appears to be divided on the subject. In Acts 7:6-7,
Stephen uses essentially the same wording as the Genesis passage,
which appears to allocate a full and literal 400 years to the Israelite
the 430 years extended from Abraham to the giving of the Law,7
1 I.e., if MSS B and h, which carry this tradition, reflect that early a form of the
4 Edgar Frank, Talmudic and Rabbinical Chronology (New York, 1956), pp. 11,
19. For a list of those who hold this position in rabbinic tradition, cf. H. H. Rowley,
From Josephus to
5Rashi, Pentateuch with Rashi's Commentary, vol. I, ed. A. M. Silbermann and
M. Rosenbaum and A. M. Silbermann, (
2, p. 61.
6 Midrash Rabbah, trans. H. Freedman and M. Simon
points out that Gal 3:16 says it was "not only to Abraham but to 'his seed" which the
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
than representing the totality of the sojourn in
he appears to be following the LXX of Exod 12:40.8 Acts 13:17-20 is
a further NT passage that is sometimes seen as having a bearing on
this question though its reference to "about 450 years till Samuel
the prophet pertains to a period of time subsequent to the Sojourn.9
Among the Early-Church Fathers there is also division of
opinion on the interpretation of the chronology in these biblical
references. For instance, Tertullian supports the short chronology,
whereas Hippolytus favors the long one.11
Since different versions of the OT have carried these two tradi-
tions, and commentators have aligned themselves accordingly to one
tradition or the other, it is necessary to examine the various ancient
texts, in order to discover the preferable reading. It is also necessary
to take a look at the history, archaeology, and other biblical data
which may have some bearing on the text, so as to ascertain the best
setting for the events dealt with in Gen 15:13-21 and Exod 12:40.
Depending on the interpretation given to the 400 (430) years,
the events of Gen 15 happened either during Middle Bronze Age I
(2200-1950 B.C.) or during Middle Bronze Age IIA (1950-1800 B.C.)--
or more specifically, about 2095 B.C. or. 1880 B. C., respectively.
Abraham came to
Dynasty (ca. 2112-2004 B.C.) or during the First Dynasty of Babylon
(ca. 1894-1595 B.C.).12 (Through the years considerable attention has
promises were spoken; and indeed, just before Jacob went down into
they were spoken to him for the last time (Gen 46:2-4)--exactly 430 years before the
Law was given, if the long chronology is allowed.
8 This is disputed by Herman N. Ridderbos, The Epistle of Paul to the Churches
9 Harold w. Hoehner, "The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage," BSac 126
313-314; Jack R. Riggs, "The Length of
Theological Joumal 12 (1972): 29-30; James R. Battenfield, "A Consideration of the
Identity of the Pharaoh of Genesis 47," JETS 15 (1972): 79. On the basis of MSS B, x:
A, and C, the text should indicate, according to B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort a,
period of "about 450 years" (or more precisely 447 years)--i.e., 400 years of bondage
and Hort, The New Testament in Original Greek (New York, 1948), p. 276.
10 Tertullian, An Answer to the Jews 2 (ANF, 3:153).
11 Hippolytus, Expository Treatise Against the Jews 6 (ANF, 5:220).
12 The foregoing dates are based on the Middle chronology for the beginning of
Hammurabi's reign (i.e., 1792 B.C.), and follow J. A. Brinkman, "Mesopotamian
been devoted to the date of the Exodus, and I have obviously opted
for an early dating. On this point, see my further discussion in
“Excursus A" at the end of this article.)
It will be pertinent to begin our analysis with the two OT
passages which are the most relevant to our discussion, Exod 12:40
and Gen 15:13-21, noted at the outset of this article. The former is
given within a chronological statement in the context of the account
of the Exodus itself, and the latter is in the setting of God's ratifica-
tion of his covenant with Abram, which included both the con-
firming of the promises of the seed (vss. 13-17) and the land grant
I. Textual Evidence on Exodus 12:40
In Exod 12:40,
the extent of
the MT as 430 years (the more exact amount for the round number of
Gen 15:13).14 The major manuscript evidence for the LXX,15 plus
the Samaritan Pentateuch,16 supports the addition of "and their
to the phrase "the children of
other ancient versions.17
As for the time period itself, the 430 years are divided between
and in an obelus of the Syro-Hexapla, as well as in all known
manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch. The Vulgate, Peshitta,
and the Targum follow the MT. Although when the Samaritan
of the Historical Period" in A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient
13Gerhard F. Hasel, "The Meaning of the Animal Rite in Genesis 15," JSOT 19
981): 67-70. See also M. Weinfeld, "Berith," TDOT (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1975), 2:
9-260; and "The Covenant of Grant in the OT in the Ancient Near East," JAOS 90
14 The ancient versions follow the MT for the most part in Gen 15:13-21.
However, the LXX (all MSS except 82*) adds the phrase "and humble them," to the
list of things that will happen to Abram's seed during the 400 years (300 years, MS
79*). There are a few other minor variations that also affect the meaning of this
passage very little, if at all. In essence, it is only Exod 12:40 that has a bearing
textually on the problem under consideration.
15 MSS AFM a-tv-c2. The fact that the various manuscripts place this phrase in
two different locations in this verse would seem to indicate its secondary character.
16 MSS ABCD4EFG1HINPQW3X1BDCF (=) dln.
17 Armenian, Bohairic, Ethiopic, Syro-Hexapla, Eusebius-Chron.
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
Pentateuch and the LXX coincide they are usually considered to be
preferable to the MT, the manuscripts in this case do not reflect the
exact same original. They are divided in terms of their order of
with LXXB reading "in the
Canaan,” whereas LXXh reads "in the
which occurs in all known manuscripts of the Samaritan Pentateuch.
Interestingly, LXXB also originally added an extra five years to,
the sojourn, here and in vs. 41, whereas the other LXX manuscripts,
as well as the other ancient versions, are agreed on 430 years. This
deviation of LXXB and the afore-mentioned one suggest that LXXB
is evidently not to be taken as the original and better reading of this
verse. Table 1 gives an overview of the textual data on Exod 12:40:
Summary of Textual Data on Exod 12:40
Variant MT Samaritan Josephus LXX Other Ancient
All known --
(only) MSS a-gi- Aeth, O.
Canaan & All known h
Egypt & Ant. 2.15.2 B Syro-
As can be seen from these data in Table 1, the majority of the
ancient texts lend support to the long chronology (for the sojourn in
support for that chronology, it does indicate a direction of prob-
ability as to the original. The LXXBh and Samaritan Pentateuch,
readings seem, therefore, to be Midrashic exegesis, as is Rashi.18
18 U. Cassuto.
A Commentary on the Book of Exodus,
(Jerusalem. 1967). pp. 85-86. Indeed, Rashi is somewhat dependent on the LXX (cf.
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
2. Interpretational Problems in Genesis 15:13-21
With regard to Gen 15:13-21, there are two interpretational
matters that have a specific bearing on this investigation; namely,
(1) the question of who is the oppressor of the descendants of
Abraham for the "400 years" (vs. 13); and (2) the significance of the
term "fourth generation" in designating the time of return from
captivity (vs. 16).
Who Oppresses Whom?
Although Abraham and his descendants were sojourners (ger)
both Canaan and
record of their being servants to the Canaanites, or being in any way
oppressed by them. In fact, these patriarchs were treated well and
were allowed to travel freely throughout the land.
It has been pointed out by those favoring the short chronology
for the Egyptian sojourn (i.e., 215 years, with the previous 215 years
from Esau, and that Joseph was sold as a slave by his brothers.19
However, these events or situations were intra-family quarrels and
hardly qualify for the expression "they will oppress them." That
expression requires an entirely different entity as the oppressor (cf.
the inverted parallelism of vs. 13). The Egyptians are the only ones
who would appear truly to qualify for this role.
A further indication that the oppression must relate to the
Egyptian sojourn emerges from the fact of God's promise to Abraham
in vs. 15 that Abraham would not be involved in these tragedies, but
would die in peace. Abraham lived for a century after the events
described in Gen 15, Jacob and Esau being 15 years old when he died
(Gen 25:7, 26). Oppression to the patriarch's descendants would
Rashi, 2:61). It is also interesting to note that it is an anachronism to call Abraham,
and even Jacob himself "children of
Samaritan Pentateuch) before Jacob had sons at
on his way back to
(1913-1880 B.C.)--or the time of Jacob's return to
to William H. Shea for this observation.)
19 Cf. Martin Anstey, The
Romance of Bible Chronology (
117; also Francis D. Nichol, ed., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, 1
(Washington, D.C., 1953): 314.
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
have been oppression to the patriarch himself; and thus, whether
oppression had come from his own family or from outsiders
Abraham would have had a difficult time dying in peace if, indeed,
as the short chronology necessitates, where was already oppression to
the patriarch's descendants during his own lifetime.
Problem of the Four Generations
"And in the fourth generation they will return here" (Gen
15:16). The time reference in vs. 13 is the "400 years"; therefore, the
meaning in vs. 16 appears to be four generations of 100 years each.
This length for a generation does not occur elsewhere in the OT, but
this is possibly so because people in patriarchal times were recog-
nized as living to be 100 years of age and older, as a general rule.20
However, there is a more simple solution to this matter. The
Hebrews, like other ancient peoples, dated long periods of time in
terms of lifetimes,21 or the cycle of a person's lifetime,22 the word dor
coming from a root meaning "to go in a circle."23 This is to be
contrasted with the word toledot which is also translated as "genera-
tions," but in the biological sense of descendants.24 Therefore, dor
should be seen as a circle or cycle of time, rather than generation(s),
as both etymology and context would suggest.25
Starting from at least the time of Rashi,26 and using the tradi-
tional definition of a generation to mean from the time of a man's
birth to the birth of his offspring, those who have favored the short
20 K. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, The Pentateuch, vol. I, trans. James Martin, in
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1952),.p. 216.
21 D. N. Freedman and J. Lundbom, "dor," TDOT (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1978).
3:170, 174; W. F. Albright, "Abram the Hebrew: A New Archaeological Interpreta-
tion," BASOR, no. 163 (1961), p.p. 50-51; and Robert Baker Girdlestone, Synonyms
the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1948), p. 315.
22 R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, and Bruce K. Waltke, eds., "Dor,"
Theological Wordbook of the Old
23 William Gesenius, Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, trans.
Samuel P.. Tregelles (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1982), p. 193.
24 William L.
Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1971), p. 387.
25 Cognates in Akkadian (daru) and Arabic dara) also bear this out (cf. Freedman
and Lundbom, pp. 170, 172).
26 Rashi, 1:61.
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
chronology have pointed to Exod 6:16-27, which would indicate
four generations from Levi to Moses.27 Furthermore, a comparison
with another four-generation genealogy in Num 26:57-62 would
seem to strengthen their case. On the basis of these two apparently
rather weighty pieces of evidence, it would seem that 400 (430) years
would be far too long a period of time between Jacob's descent into
the leaving of Canaan (obviously into
and the return into
There are indications, on the other hand, that both of the above
four-generation genealogies of Moses are stylized and incomplete.
Exod 6:14-27, which gives genealogies for Reuben, Simeon, and
Levi, begins by saying, "These are the heads of their fathers'
houses," a technical term for a collection of families (or more
accurately, kin-groups) denominated by a common ancestor, i.e., a
lineage.28 Also included are the names of such sons as were founders
of families: mispahot (i.e., lineage segments). Thus, stated in another
way, the names included in this genealogy are "the heads [ra'se] of
the father's-houses of the Levites according to their families" (vs.
25b--not each individual. The heads of families, thus, are: Levi
(actually the tribal or lineage founder), the first generation; Kohath
(with his brothers Gershon and Merari), the second generation; and
Amram (and his
generation. However, this is where the heads of families conclude.
The name Amram of vs. 20 may be a conflation of the name of
the Amram who was the head of one of the third-generation families
of Levi, with the name of a later Amram who was the father of Moses
"and Aaron.29 There was a tendency among the Levites to name their
sons after their forefathers (cf. 1 Chr 6:7-13; Luke 1:5, 59-61). Thus,
several generations appear to have been telescoped here, with
27 This assumes the validity of basing the fulfillment of this verse on Levi's
28 Keil and Delitzsch, 1:469.
29 Those listed as sons of Izhar and Uzziel, vss. 21-22, are possibly several
generations later, the term "son" thus indicating a later descendant, with the most
important names listed first in that they appear in current events surrounding the
Exodus (cf. Lev 10:4; Num 3:30; 16:1). For examples of this phenomenon elsewhere,
cf. Gen 11:26,32; 12:4; 46:16-18, 24-25.
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
Amram, the father of Moses and Aaron, probably being at least the
grandson of the original Amram, if not even a later descendant.30
(See Table 2.) According to Num 3:27-28, after the numbering of
people in the wilderness in the second year after the Exodus, the
Kohathites were divided into four families (mispahot). These
families of the Amramites, Izharites, Hebronites, and Uzzielites
consisted of 8600 men and boys (not including women and girls), of
which about a fourth (or 2150) were Amramites. This would have
given Moses and Aaron that incredibly large a number of brothers
and brothers' sons (brothers' daughters, sisters, and their daughters
not being reckoned), if the same Amram, the son of Kohath, were
both the head of the family of the Amramites and their own father.31
Obviously, such could not have been the case.
The genealogy of Num 26:57-62 is also incomplete (possibly rep-
resenting a harmonization with Exod 6). After the list of eight fam-
ilies (mispahot), there is a break at vs. 58. Again Levi, Kohath, and
Amram are first-through-third generations, respectively. Jochebed is
not the daughter of Levi, but rather a daughter of Levi--that is,
"Levitess" (cf. Exod 2:1; the Hebrew of the two verses is the same
Further evidence pertinent to the Levi genealogies may be
in the fact that the genealogies of
Ephraim (Num 26:35-36; 1 Chr 7:20-27) indicate seven and eight
generations, respectively, 52 for the same or a slightly lesser time
period than that encompassed in the four-generation genealogies of
Levi in Exod 6:16-27 and Num 26:57-62. At the very end of each of
these other genealogies, we find reference to several contempora-
neous individuals from the three tribes. Thus, these more-extended
genealogies of Judah and Ephraim would seem to indicate incom-
pleteness in the Levi genealogies.
30 An alternative view is that there is only one Amram, thus leaving the parents of
Moses and Aaron unnamed; cf. W. H. Green, "Primeval Chronology," BSac 47
31 Keil and Delitzsch, 1:470.
32 The genealogical comparisons of this section of the paper (including Table 2)
reflect only the data given in the biblical text. I am not attempting here to do a
thorough historical reconstruction of these genealogies, which would of necessity
include all instances of genealogical fluidity; cf. Robert R. Wilson, Genealogy and
History in the Biblical World (New Haven, 1977), pp. 27-36.
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
My reconstruction of the genealogical data is summarized in
Table 2, and further elaboration is provided in Excursus B at the end
of this article.
Summary of Genealogical Data
Gen., Num26:35-36 and I Chr 7:20-27 Exod 6:16-27 I Chr 2:1-20
2 Ephraim Kohath Perez
3 Shuthelah Becher Tahan Amram Hezron
4 Eran & Tahath Laadan ? Ram Caleb
5 Eleadah Ammihud Amram = Jochebed Amminadab Hur
6 Tahath Elishamat* Aaron* = Elisheba Nahshon* Uri
7 Zabad Nun* Bezaleel*
8 Shuthelah Joshua*
10 Ezer & Elead & Beriah
11 Rephah & Resheph
*Contemporaries during the Exodus and after.
Italics indicate founders of families.
3. Historical Setting
In the previous two sections, we have dealt with the biblical and
textual data as well as the interpretational problems which accom-
pany them in presenting a case for the long chronology. It was
found that these data allow for such a reconstruction. In the present
section we deal briefly with historical and archaeological data that
have significant implications for the "long-chronology" view pre-
sented here. These relate to the historical setting for Abraham and
for Joseph, and to the time of the oppression of the Israelites in
The long chronology for the sojourn of
the Israelites in
would place the birth of Abraham ca. 2170 B.C., and thus would
the events of his first year in Canaan, his visit to
the events of Gen 15 ca. 2095 B.C. The basic question to be asked here
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
this: Are the conditions in Canaan and
compatible with the narratives in Genesis? Indeed, the case seems to
be such that we can answer in the affirmative.
lated.34 In the Negev, there was settlement from the twenty-first to
the nineteenth centuries B.C., but not before or afterwards (cf. Gen
20:1, 24:62; 28:20).35 However, in the central hill country there was
apparently a sparseness of population, reflected by the fact that
could move freely between Shechem and
where he could pitch his tent and graze his flock as he pleased, as did
Isaac and Jacob. Archaeological findings reveal the same condition
in the interior of
the nineteenth century the cities west of the
again occupied.37 It is interesting, moreover, that Asiatics during
33 On Shechem, see G. Ernest Wright, Shechem: The Biography of a Biblical City,
(New York, 1964), pp. 110-112; and William H. Shea, "Famines in the Early History,
pp. 151-152. On
sidered," WTJ 33 (1970): 20-44, and "Traditional Site of Bethel Questioned," WTJ 34
34 M. Ibrahim, James A. Sauer, K. Yassine,
1975," BASOR, no. 222 (1976): 51-54.
35 Nelson Glueck, "The Age of Abraham in the Negeb," BA 18 (1955): 6-9;
"Exploring Southern Palestine (The
Desert (New York, 1959), pp. 60-101. Cf. William G. Dever, "The EB IV-MB I
Horizon in Transjordan and
also R. Cohen and W. G. Dever, "Preliminary Report of the Second Season of the
'Central Negev Highlands Project,'" BASOR, no. 236 (1979), pp. 42, 57-58; and
"Preliminary Report of the Third and Final Season of the 'Central Negev Highlands
Project,'" BASOR, no. 243 (1981), p. 61.
36 Both Gen 12:6 and 21:31 use the term maqom("place") rather than 'ir ("city")
for these sites, as does Gen 28:19 for
those particular times (i.e., MBI for the former, and MBIIA for the latter).
37 G. Ernest Wright, Biblical Archaeology (
Yohanan Aharoni, The Land of the Bible: A Historical Geography, trans. A. F.
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
region with relative ease.38 Thus, it would not have been difficult for
to enter the unguarded borders of
If the long chronology puts Abraham in
it also puts Joseph in
1991-1782 B.C.), instead of (as with Josephus and tradition) during
Hyksos Period. Likewise, it brings Jacob into
Again, it is necessary to see if this period correlates with what we
know from the narratives in Genesis and Exodus.
From this point of view, the Beni-Hasan Asiatics (depicted on a
wall of the tomb of the nomarch Khnum-hotep III) reflect the time
of Jacob and Joseph, rather than that of Abraham.39 There is also
mention of famine during the Twelfth Dynasty.40 These circum-
stances correlate with the biblical evidence.
According to Gen 37:2, Joseph was sold into slavery and
according to my suggested reconstruction, in 1902 B.C., or late in the
reign of Amenemhat II (1929-1895 B.C.). There is concurrence with
Egyptian history in that during the Twelfth Dynasty slavery of Syro-
Palestinians was growing.41 Joseph was purchased by an Egyptian
official named Potiphar (Gen 37:36), and was made a domestic
servant or steward, something which was quite common during the
Middle Kingdom (Dynasties XI-XII, ca. 2022-1782 B.C.).42
When Joseph became vizier to Pharaoh,43 he was given
Pharaoh's second chariot (Gen 41:43; cf. 46:29). This fact may seem
to pose a problem in that the Hyksos brought the horse (cf. Gen
and chariot to
38 Alan Gardiner,
39 Percy E. Newberry; Beni
Hasan, Part 1 (
40 Shea, "Famines," pp. 69-71, l7l-173; Gardiner, p. 129.
41 William C. Hayes, ed., A Papyrus of the Late Middle
Kingdom in the
42 Charles F. Aling,
43 See J. Vergote, Joseph en Egypte (
44 J. A. Thompson, The Bible and Archaeology, 3d ed. (
1982), p. 44. For doubts concerning this longstanding argument, cf. John Van Seters,
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
the Hyksos Period has been found at Buhen in
from ca. 1875 B.C.45 The wording "second chariot" in Gen 41:43 may
suggest, of course, that chariots were uncommon.46
Joseph's marriage to the daughter of a
priest of On (
as arranged by the Pharaoh (Gen 41:45), is also significant. On was
the center of worship of the sun-god Re, and Joseph's father-in-law
was no doubt a priest of Re. Although the Hyksos did not suppress
the worship of Re, they venerated Seth, who was their primary deity.
If Joseph had lived during the Hyksos Period, he probably would
have received a wife from the family of a priest of Seth, rather than of
Re.47 It is also possible that Joseph's land reforms during the famine
(Gen 47:20-26) may be connected with the breaking of the dominance
of the great nomarchs of the land by Pharaoh Sesostris III (ca. 1878-
1843 B.C.) at this very time.48
A further argument put forward for the view that Joseph was
Avaris was in the Delta, and this is coupled with the fact that Joseph
his father to dwell in the
him (Gen 45:10).49 However,
the land of
it were in a part of
Joseph resided (see especially Gen 46:29, 31, telling of Joseph's
Pharaoh). During the Twelfth Dynasty, the capital was at It-towy
(Lisht), a site compatible with the conditions of the narrative, which
require a capital neither too near to, nor too far from, Goshen.50
There was also a secondary capital, possibly at Qantir.51 (Both the
The Hyksos: A New Investigation (New Haven, 1966), p. 185, and T. Save-Soderbergh,
45 Walter B. Emery,
46 Aling, p. 45. However, a viable alternative is "second" in the order of
47 Aling, pp. 45-46; d. also Wood, p. 38, n. 45.
48 Battenfield, pp. 82-84.
49 Nichol, 1:462.
50 Battenfield, p. 81.
51 lbid., pp. 81-82. See also Manfred Bietak, Avaris and Piramesse: Archaeological
Exploration in the Eastern Nile Delta
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
[probably Tell er-Retabeh]52 and Per Ramses [probably Qantir],53
which were built well before the birth of Moses,54 are probably
of later names by a copyist to identify
the storage cities to readers who would not know the original
As can be seen from the above reconstruction, the Israelite
Patriarchal period spans the transition between MBI and MBII.
When MBI came to be recognized as a discrete historical period, it
was suggested by Nelson Glueck and W. F. Albright that this was
the period of the Patriarchs.56 Since then, this conclusion has been
disputed by Thomas L. Thompson and J. Van Seters.57 A recent
survey of the archaeological data,58 however, supports the position
of those initial conclusions for MBI as the period of settlement in the
Jacob narratives belong to MBIIA. It would seem, then, that these
achaeological data support a biblical chronological framework
based on the long chronology.
The Time of Oppression
We turn our attention next to the time of the Oppression of the
after the death of Joseph, when there arose over
new king who "did not know Joseph" (Exod 1:8). In Hebrew, the
verb qwm plus the preposition ‘al often means "to rise against" (cf.
Deut 19:11; 28:7; Judg 9:18; et al.), and as such would not indicate a
52 Alan Gardiner, "The Delta Residence of the Ramessides;" JEA 5 (1918): 268. T.
53 Bietak, pp. 230, 268-271, 273, 278-283.
54 John Rea, "The Time of the Oppression and the Exodus," JETS 3 (1960): 62.
55 Nichol, 1:473, 497-498; Aling, p. 95.
56 Nelson Glueck, "The Age of
Abraham in the
68; W. F. Albright, The Archaeology of
83; "Abraham the Hebrew," pp. 36-54.
57 Thomas L. Thompson, The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives (New
(New Haven, 1975), pp. 104-112.
58 J. J. Bimson, "Archaeological Data and the Dating of the Patriarchs," in Essays
the Patriarchal Narratives,
ed. A. R. Millard and D. J. Wiseman (
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
peaceable accession to the throne of a nation. This statement would,
therefore, fit more precisely with a situation in which the Hyksos or
other outsiders were taking over the Egyptian throne than it would
with the rise of a native Egyptian Dynasty.59 Although possibly, as is
sometimes suggested, it could refer to Ahmose I (ca. 1575-1553 B.C.),
the first king of the Eighteenth Dynasty (ca. 1575-1318 B.C.), in
taking back a throne that was rightfully his, other considerations
seem to go contrary to this. For instance, in Exod 1:9-10, the new
says: "Behold, the people of the
mightier than we: come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they
multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war,
they also join themselves unto our enemies and fight against us, and
go up from the land."
This statement may well have been made
finished multiplying to the population peak which they reached just
prior to the Exodus. The Israelites were, in fact, never more numeri-
ous and mighty than the native Egyptians; but they were indeed so,
in comparison to the Hyksos, who were never very numerous in
numbers. If the new Pharaoh "who knew not Joseph" was a Hyksos
ruler, he could expect war with the Egyptians at any time; and since
Joseph and the Hebrews had been on friendly terms with the
Egyptians, he could also expect the Hebrews to join themselves to
There are other reasons which support the suggestion that it
the Hyksos who began the oppression of
Ahmose had been the Pharaoh of the oppression, it would seem
illogical that the Egyptians would fear the Israelites after the
Egyptians' successful expulsion of the Hyksos, pushing them back
Hyksos had enslaved the Hebrews, the latter would certainly have
had no desire to leave with the Hyksos; and since the Jews were on
friendly terms with the Egyptians, a clear distinction would be
59 Rea, p. 60.
60 Ibid., p. 61.
61 Ibid., pp. 60-61.
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
It seems, therefore, that the Hyksos were the ones who enslaved
the Hebrews.62 They forced them to build the storage cities Pithom
and Per-Ramses (cf. Exod 1:11), the latter of which (if at Qantir) has
finds from the Hyksos Period and earlier (associating it with Avaris)
and which also has finds from the Nineteenth Dynasty (ca. 1318-1209
B.C.), including bricks with the name "Ramses," as well as ostraca
which have the name "Per-Ramses." These finds correlate well with
the literary sources concerning Per-Ramses.63
There is no need, then, to try to circumvent the lack of
Eighteenth-Dynasty remains at Qantir,64 for it was not during this
period, but rather during the Hyksos Period, that the Hebrews were
forced to build these cities. The Hyksos oppression, therefore,
probably began about 1730 B.C.65 The difference between that date
and 1450 B.C., the date of the Exodus, is 280 years. When 40 years for
the wilderness wanderings are added, the time is 320 years--or "in
fourth generation or cycle of time" (cf. Gen 15:16), when
Indeed, an even earlier, but lesser period of oppression can be
seen as existing at the beginning of the reign of Amenemhat III
(1842-1797 B.C.), or during a possible coregency between him and his
father Sesostris III,66 since this was the approximate time that
Asiatic slaves appeared in Egypt.67 This oppression may be dated to
ca. 1850 B.C., in fulfillment of the 400 years of Gen 15:13,68 with a
more intense period of oppression during the Hyksos domination,
as mentioned above. Subsequent to the Hyksos domination, the
62 If the tradition in Josephus is correct, the Hyksos did make some people slaves;
cf. Ag. Apion 1.14.
63 Aling, pp. 66-69; d. Shea, "Exodus," pp. 231-232.
64 Bietak, pp. 236, 268.
65 Rea, p. 61.
66 G. Goyon, Nouvelles
Inscriptions rupestres du Wadi
p. 22; James Henry Breasted, A
History of the Ancient Egyptians (
p.160; and W. K. Simpson, "Historical and Lexical Notes on the New Series o£
Hammamat Inscriptions," JNES 18 (1959): 20-37; and William J. Murnane, Ancient
67 Georges Posener, "Les Asiatiques in Egypte sous les XIIe et XIIIe dynasties,"
68 Battenfield, p. 84.
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
Egyptian rulers of the Eighteenth Dynasty, evidently after a brief
period of relaxation from the Hyksos oppression, found it to their
advantage to oppress the Hebrews.69 Thutmose I (ca. 1532-1518 B.C.)
who acceded to the throne in 1532 B.C., would be a likely candidate
for the Pharaoh of the death decree,70 If we reckon an Exodus of ca.
1450 B.C. According to Exod 1:15-22 and 7:7, this decree was probably
issued about half way between the birth of Aaron and the birth of
4. Summary and Conclusion
Ever since the appearance of LXXBh, with variant translations
of Exod 12:40, there has been a division among scholars as
the sojourn of the Israelites in
long, as the variant reading claims, or 430 years long, as the Hebrew
text gives the time period. Although, along with Gen 15:13-21, Exod
12:40 is our primary source, evidences other than the variants of the
ancient translations of the Scriptures are needed in order to reach
decision with respect to whether the long chronology or the short
for the Israelite sojourn in
A comparison of various genealogical data reveals that while on
two sons of Joseph, reveal six, seven, and eight generations for the
same time period, evidencing that there are some missing genera-
tions in the genealogy of Moses. Thus, this genealogy in Exod 6:16-
27 should not be taken as support for the 215-year view. The
genealogical data favor, instead, a longer time period.
The historical and archaeological evidence also seems to have
closer correlation with the biblical data if the 430 years are taken to
the length of the Israelite sojourn in
the career of Joseph seem to fit well into the Twelfth-Dynasty
varying intensities bridging the reign of Amenemhat III, the Hyksos
Period, and the Eighteenth Dynasty. Also, Abraham appears to fit
just as well, if not better, into the twenty-first century, than into the
nineteenth century. Moreover, not only are the evidences from these
various directions compatible with Palestinian and Egyptian
69 Rea, p. 61.
70 Shea, Exodus, p. 233.
THE ISRAELITE SOJOURN IN
history, but they also seem to provide preferable explanations for-
or, at least, to avert--some of the problems that arise in connection
with the short chronology (such as the lack of Eighteenth-Dynasty
remains at Qantir, and the reference in Num 3:27-28 to 8,600
brothers and cousins of Moses and Aaron).
In short, the various lines of evidence would seem to indicate
that the 430 years should be taken at face value for the Israelite
particular reconstruction is tenable and defensible, and that it
deserves attention as an alternative to the "short-chronology"
DATE OF THE EXODUS
The dating of the Exodus is very controversial. There are two main
periods which have been suggested as fitting best the evidence for this
event--one at the end of the Late Bronze Age I, and the other at the end of
the Late Bronze Age II. A thirteenth-century date has been favored by most of the scholarly world, with either a low date of ca. 1220 B.C. (cf. W. M. F.
1280 B.C. (cf. W. F. Albright, From Stone Age to Christianity [Garden City,
N.Y., 1957], p. 256).
However, a fifteenth-century-B.C. date is preferred by other scholars.
These scholars, too, hold either to a high date of ca. 1470 B.C. (cf. J. Bimson,
"Redating the Exodus and Conquest," JSOT 5 : 144) or a low date of
1445 B.C. (cf. J. W. Jack, The Date of the Exodus [
I have opted for the fifteenth-century "low date," as recently modified to
ca. 1450 B.C. by W. H. Shea, "Exodus, Date of the," ISBE, rev. ed. (Grand
article are based on this date for the Exodus.
THE GENEALOGIES OF EPHRAIM, LEVI, AND JUDAH
In Table 2 in the preceding main article, I have summarized my
reconstruction of data from several genealogical lists: for Ephraim (begin-
ning with his father, Joseph) in Num 26:35-36 and I Chr 7:20-27; for Levi in
6:16-27; and for
PAUL J. RAY, JR.:
to provide a detailed analysis, a few of the specifics deserve mention, and this excursus is devoted to them.
Nahshon, the sixth generation from
year after the Exodus and was at that time the prince or leader (nasi; cf.
Num 2:3; 7:12) of the tribe of
Elisheba (Exod 6:23). Since Levi was Jacob's third son (Gen 29:34) and at
least presumably married before Judah71 (who took a long time to have a
surviving male offspring in Perez [Gen 38]), it is unlikely that Aaron would
be the fourth generation of Levi while taking a wife from the sixth
least the sixth generation from the sons of Jacob. It may be noted also that
Bezaleel (Exod 31:2), one of the builders of the Tabernacle and a contem-
of Moses and Aaron, was of the seventh generation of
Ephraim was the second son of Joseph (Gen 41:52). Taken together,
Num 26:35-36 and 1 Chr 7:20-27 indicate four family lines for this tribe, two of which are treated in detail.72 The family of Shuthelah is carried down for twelve generations into the days of the Judges (1 Chr 7:21b-24), whereas the family of Tahan is traced eight generations up through Joshua, who was
also contemporary with Moses and Aaron. The sixth generation from
Ephraim is indicated as Elishama (Num 7:48), who was the leader (nasi') of
the tribe of Ephraim at that time. Indeed, it is possible that the high number
of generations for Ephraim might be explained by the population explosion
toward the end of the 430 years, or that some of the names represent the sons
of one and the same individual. In any case, however, the first generation of
Ephraim himself and the last four generations are clearly continuous (Num
7:48; 13:16), reducing Ephraim to six generations, at the most.73 This is
consistent with what we have seen for
the genealogy of
seems to be the case for Levi also.
On the basis of the above evidence, it would seem plausible that the
genealogies of Levi in Exod 6 and Num 26 are incomplete. As such, they are
consistent with a view that the 400 (430) years could refer to the Israelite
accommodate the above data; however, 400 (430) years would accommodate those data rather well. It would seem, then, that the expression "in the fourth generation [dor]" should be understood as "in the fourth cycle of time," as suggested in Section 2 of the main article.
71 Levi and Judah were probably only about 1 year apart in age. In fact, it would
seem that all eleven sons born to Jacob in his exile, exclusive of Benjamin, were born
within a seven-year period (Gen 29:28-30:28; 31:38).
72 Keil and Delitzsch, The Books of Chronicles, trans. Andrew Harper, in Biblical
Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich., 1952), pp. 139-142.
73 Before he died, Jacob prophesied that Joseph's descendants would be fruitful
(Gen 49:22). There are also six generations from Joseph to Zelophehad for the tribe of
Manasseh (cf. Num 26: 28-33, 21:1, and Josh 11:3).
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