|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
7:1-16 Stephen was charged as a blasphemer of God, and an apostate from the church; therefore he shows that he is a son of Abraham, and values himself on it. The slow steps by which the promise made to Abraham advanced toward performance, plainly show that it had a spiritual meaning, and that the land intended was the heavenly. God owned Joseph in his troubles, and was with him by the power of his Spirit, both on his own mind by giving him comfort, and on those he was concerned with, by giving him favour in their eyes. Stephen reminds the Jews of their mean beginning as a check to priding themselves in the glories of that nation. Likewise of the wickedness of the patriarchs of their tribes, in envying their brother Joseph; and the same spirit was still working in them toward Christ and his ministers. The faith of the patriarchs, in desiring to be buried in the land of Canaan, plainly showed they had regard to the heavenly country. It is well to recur to the first rise of usages, or sentiments, which have been perverted. Would we know the nature and effects of justifying faith, we should study the character of the father of the faithful. His calling shows the power and freeness of Divine grace, and the nature of conversion. Here also we see that outward forms and distinctions are as nothing, compared with separation from the world, and devotedness to God.
Verse 6. - In a strange land; a land belonging to some one else (Hebrews 11:9, γῆ ἀλλοτρία, as here); a land in which he had none inheritance, not yet become the possession of his seed; for as the writer to the Hebrews says, he dwelt in tents with Isaac and Jacob; not applicable, therefore, in the first instance to Egypt at all. And this sojourning as strangers and pilgrims lasted altogether four hundred and thirty years, vie. two hundred and fifteen years in Canaan, and two hundred and fifteen in Egypt; which agrees exactly with St. Paul's reckoning in round numbers of four hundred years from the giving of the promise to Abraham to the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai (Galatians 3:17). The "four hundred years" must not be taken in connection with the bondage" and the ill treatment which characterized the last half of the period, but as spoken of the whole period during which they had not possession of the promised land. Bring them into bondage. So the LXX.; but the Hebrew, as rendered in the A.V., has "and they shall serve them." But some (see Gesenius, 'Thes.') render the Hebrew as the LXX. Do. Four hundred years. This is a round number, as in Genesis 15:13. The exact time, as given in Exodus 12:40, 41, was four hundred and thirty years.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And God spake on this wise,.... The Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions read, "and God spake to him", and so does one of Beza's copies; and the Ethiopic version reads it both ways, God "said thus to Abraham", as in Genesis 15:13.
That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; or "be a stranger in a land not theirs"; first in the land of Canaan, and then in Egypt, which were possessed by other persons, the natives of them:
and that they should bring them into bondage; that is, the inhabitants of the lands, and particularly Egypt, should bring the seed of Abraham into bondage, as they did; and very hard bondage it was, at least some part of it:
and entreat them evil four hundred years; which must be reckoned not from the time of their going down into Egypt, which to their coming up out of it were but two hundred and ten years, but from the birth of Isaac: which was as soon as Abraham had the promised seed, and may be reckoned after this manner; from the birth of Isaac to the birth of Jacob, sixty years, Genesis 25:26 and from thence to the coming of Jacob into Egypt, one hundred and thirty years, Genesis 47:9 and from thence to the coming of the children of Israel out of Egypt, two hundrd and ten years; which in all make up four hundred years; for the sojourning and evil entreating of Abraham's seed are not to be confined to the land of Egypt, but belong to other lands, where they were within this time, though that land is more especially intended; and so the Septuagint version renders the text in Exodus 12:40. "Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, which they (and some copies add, and their fathers) sojourned in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, were four hundred and thirty years": and this text is differently read in the Talmuds, in one of them thus (f); "and the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt", , "and in all the lands, were four hundred and thirty years"; and in the other of them thus (g), "and the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt", , "and in the rest of the lands, were four hundred years"; upon which latter the gloss has these words;
"from the time that the decree of the captivity was made between them to the birth of Isaac, were thirty years; and from the birth of Isaac, until the Israelites went out of Egypt, were four hundred years; take out of them the sixty of Isaac, and the one hundred and thirty that Jacob had lived when he went down into Egypt, and there remain two hundred and ten; and so is the decree, that "thy seed shall be a stranger in a land not theirs", Genesis 15:13 and it is not said in Egypt, but in a land not theirs; and when Isaac was born, Abraham was a sojourner in the land of the Philistines; and from thence, till they went out of Egypt, it will be found that Isaac and his seed who were the seed of Abraham, were strangers: and the thirty years before that are not numbered in the decree;''
See Gill on Galatians 3:17.
(f) T. Hieros, Megilla, fol. 71. 4. (g) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 9. 1. Vid. Aben Ezra, in Exodus 12.40.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
6-8. four hundred years—using round numbers, as in Ge 15:13, 16 (see on Ga 3:17).
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