Return to ICB Menu
Return to blog post

Building the Internal Chronology of the Bible

My Journey: A Question of 430 Years

At this point, Rûãch @Élöhîm led me to watch a documentary on Dr. David Rohl's research into locating Biblical events and people in time, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest.(1) Similar to Heinrich Schliemann who believed the Troy of Homer's Iliad had actually existed, Dr. Rohl took the Biblical account at face value (more or less). While his findings are still not accepted by mainstream Egyptologists or Biblical scholars, I found what he had to say about Exodus 12.40 very informative. I learned in the documentary that Exodus 12.40-41 in the Septuagint (2) contained a key phrase not preserved in the Masoretic text,(3) on which all English translations are based. While a check of Brenton's(4) English translation of the Septuagint verified Dr. Rohl's information, I decided I wanted to see exactly how the verses read in the original language. So how far to go with this? Were the references works I already had sufficient to do what I wanted, or did I need to go deeper and learn the basics of the languages? I already had reference books related to the original languages, such as Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament,     Young's Analytical Concordance, and     Vine's Expository Dictionary of the New Testament. Hmmmm . . . My curiosity got the better of me and I chose the deeper path. Fortunately, I had taken Classical Greek in college, so at least I knew what additional books to get if I wanted to learn Hebrew and New Testament Greek and start doing my own translations. Although, as it turned out, the Greek of the Septuagint was neither purely Classical     nor purely New Testament, but somewhere in between, as was only to be expected, given its location in time between those two eras. So, I got grammars and the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia,(5) the standard Hebrew Bible text in seminaries, and dove into learning the basics of Hebrew first,   and New Testament Greek second. With the help of lexicons and dictionaries, I started doing my own translations of Scripture, always checking against a variety of translations to make sure I was not going off the deep end. What I found was I enjoyed doing my own translations and diving deeper into Scripture. In fact, I eventually moved on to second year grammars and I have kept up learning more about translating Hebrew and Greek into English. The bottom line is I have found doing my own Bible translations extremely valuable in my pursuit of the truth of YHWH @Élöhîm's Story, which is probably why Rûãch @Élöhîm nudged me onto that path. All that being said . . . Here are my English translations of Exodus 12.40-41 from the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia and the Septuagint.

and the sojourning of the sons of Yisrä@ël who dwelt in the land of Mitsräyim ~ [was] 430 years # So it happened at [the] end of 430 years ~ it happened in that very day, [that] all the hosts of YHWH went out from the land of Mitsräyim # (Exo. 12.40-41 - Masoretic, dmd translation) But the dwelling place of the sons of Israáyl, his dwelling in the land of Aigúptos and in the land of Chanaán, [is] 430 years. And it came to pass after the 430 years, it happened in that very day, [that] all the hosts of YHWH went out from the land of Mitsräyim [by night] (Exo. 12:40-41 - Septuagint, dmd translation)
Comparison of Exodus 12.40-41
MasoreticSeptuagint
and the sojourning of the sons of Yisrä@ëlBut the dwelling place of the sons of Israáyl,
who dwelt in the land of Mitsräyim ~his dwelling in the land of Aigúptos
and in the land of Chanaán,
[was] 430 years #[is] 430 years
So it happened at [the] end of 430 years ~and it came to pass after the 430 years
it happened in that very day,it happened in that very day,
[that] all the hosts of YHWH[that] all the hosts of YHWH
went out from the land of Mitsräyim #went out from the land of Mitsräyim
by night

The difference in Exodus 12.40 is quite obvious: the phrase "and in the land of Chanán." Putting the two together gave me this:

and the sojourning of the sons of Yisrä@ël who dwelt in the land of Mitsräyim [and in the land of Kenäøan] ~ [was] 430 years # So it happened at [the] end of 430 years ~ it happened in that very day, all the hosts of YHWH went out from the land of Mitsräyim [by night] # (Exo. 12.40-41, dmd translation)

As Dr. Rohl had pointed out, this meant the 430 years counted not from when Yaøáqöv moved to Mitsräyim but rather from when @Avrähäm moved to Kenaøan. Well, that's quite different than what has been taught in the 20th century church. I decided a little more research was in order, which proved quite interesting. First of all, Scripture itself confirms the 430 years as counting from @Avrähäm. Surprise, surprise. In Galatians 3.17, Paul wrote:

But I am saying this, the law introduced 430 years later does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God [with reference to Christ], so as to nullify the promise [dmd translation].

Paul was talking about the Abrahamic covenant and the giving of the Law at Mt. Sînäy. He cited 430 years between the two events. Actually, that is a rounding because the Friendship Covenant occurred 10 years after @Avrähäm got to Kenaøan. Since the New Testament quotes from the Hebrew Scriptures are well attested as coming from the Septuagint,(6) it's likely Paul was also referring to Exodus 12.40 in the Septuagint text here. Now it is possible Paul had access to a first century Hebrew text that had not lost the phrase "and in the land of Kenaøan," but there is no way to know that. We do know the Septuagint provides the information of 430 years spent in Kenaøan and Mitsräyim and the New Testament writers quoted from the Septuagint. So, that's a New Testament confirmation that the Septuagint did preserve a genuine phrase lost in the later Hebrew manuscripts used to form the Masoretic text. I found another confirmation in the Geneva Bible.(7) The first edition of the Geneva Bible was translated by the English Reform scholars in exile in Switzerland in 1560. The Geneva Bible was the first 'commentary' Bible with its use of marginal notes. As such, it gives insight into how the Calvinist Bible scholars of the day understood Scripture.

So the dwelling of the children of Israel while they dwelled in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And when the four hundred and thirty years were expired, even the selfsame day departed all the hosts of the Lord out of the land of Egypt. (Exo. 12.40-41, Geneva)

Now, the Geneva Bible has a marginal note for Exodus 12.40-41:

"From Abraham's departing from Ur in Chaldea unto the departing of the children of Israel from Egypt are 430 years."

In addition, the Geneva Bible marginal note for Acts 7.6 (Stephanos' defense before the Sanhedrin) speaks to both the 400 years in Genesis 15.13   and the 430 years in Exodus 12.40-41 and Galatians 3.17:

There are reckoned four hundred years, from the beginning of Abrahamís progeny, which was at the birth of Isaac and four hundred and thirty years which are spoken of by Paul, Gal 3.17, from the time that Abraham and his father departed together out of Ur of the Chaldeans.

So, the 16th century English Reform scholars understood the 430 years as referring to the time between @Avrähäm and the Exodus. They start the 430 years count from when @Avrähäm and Terach left @Úr Käsdîm instead of from when @Avrähäm arrived in the land of Kenaøan. Since Scripture does not indicate how long Terach lived in Chärrän before he died, the English Reform scholars' count could technically work.

However, Exodus 12.40 in the Septuagint states

the benê Yisrä@ël spent 430 years in Mitsräyim and in the land of Kenaøan.

Nothing in either the Masoretic or Septuagint texts indicates the 430 year count includes the time spent in Chärrän. Therefore, Iím sticking with the 430 year count starting from when @Avräm arrived in Kenaøan.

Still, even though I now had my 430 summary years for the chronology chart, I knew there was another verse to consider in examining the question of how long the benê Yisrä@ël spent in Mitsräyim; Genesis 15.13

And He said to @Avräm, "Know for certain that your seed will be a sojourner in a land not theirs and they will serve them, and [by them] they will be oppressed ~ 400 years" # (Gen 15.13 - dmd)

Does this verse mean @Avrähämís seed would be enslaved for 400 years? Thatís a common interpretation today, but I think the English Reform scholars were right in counting the 400 years from Yitschäq's birth to the Exodus. So, Iíll look at the 400 years verses next.

FOOTNOTES (1) Rohl, David M. Pharaoahs and Kings: A Biblical Quest. ( A Test of Time: The Bible from Myth to History). New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. 1995, 425p. Return (2) The Septuagint (LXX) is the second century B.C. Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, which was authoritative Scripture for the first century Christians. Return (3) The oldest Masoretic text dates from the 10th century A.D. Source: Wikipedia 'Masoretic Text' article is a nice summary with good documentation. Return (4) Brenton, Sir Lancelot C.L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English. London: Bagster & Sons. 1851 (2001, US: Hendrickson), 1138p, 248p. Return (5) Elliger, K. and Rudolph, W., eds. Biblica Hebraica Stuttgartensia. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft. 1967/77, 1574p Return (6) Bromiley, Geoffrey W., et.al. The International Standard Bible Encylopedia, vol. 4 (Q-Z);, revised 1956. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. 1988, 'Septuagint,' pp.400 . Return (7) 1599 Geneva Bible. White Hall, WV: Tolle Lege Press. 2006, 1366p. Return

Return to blog post Return to ICB Menu


Site Creator: Dori Scholar     This page last modified: October 11, 2017     Send correspondance to: dorischolar@yahoo[dot]com Legal Stuff:   Copyright 2017 by Dori Scholar.   Permission to distribute this material via e-mail, or individual copies for personal use, is granted on the condition that it will be used for non-commercial purposes, will not be sold, and no changes made to the format or content.   When quoting, please keep the context and provide the source   URL: http://www.badgerholt.com.       Scriptures are cited from New American Standard Bible (NASB), English Standard Version (ESV) Young's Literal Translation (YLT), Geneva Bible, 1599 ed., Jay Green's KJ3: Literal Translation, Gary Zella's Analytical Literal Translation of the New Testament, or my own translation (dmd).