Exodus 12:40
Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
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(40) The sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt.—Heb., which they sojourned in Egypt

Was four hundred and thirty years.—Comp. the prophecy:—“Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs [Egypt, not Canaan], and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years and also that nation whom they shall serve will I judge” (Genesis 15:13-14). The genealogy of Joshua (1Chronicles 7:22-27), which places him in the eleventh generation from Jacob, accords well with this term of years. The other genealogies are more or less abbreviated.

Exodus 12:40. Who dwelt in Egypt — Or sojourned. We must observe, that it is not said, The sojourning of the children of Israel in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years; but the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt — That is, the sojourning of the Israelitish nation, from the time that Abraham left his native country to sojourn in Canaan, to the release of his posterity, who were long sojourners in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. Therefore, the Samaritan copy hath it, Who dwelt in the land of Canaan and in Egypt. So the Vatican edition of the LXX. It was just four hundred and thirty years from the promise made to Abraham (as the apostle explains it, Galatians 3:17) at his first coming into Canaan, during all which time the Hebrews were sojourners in a land that was not theirs, either Canaan or Egypt. So long the promise God made to Abraham lay dormant and unfulfilled, but now it revived, and things began to work toward the accomplishment of it. The first day of the march of Abraham’s seed toward Canaan was four hundred and thirty years (it should seem, to a day) from the promise made to Abraham, Genesis 12:2, “I will make of thee a great nation.” What reason have we then to admire the exact accomplishment of God’s promise! Notwithstanding the various revolutions and changes of all worldly affairs that must necessarily have happened in the space of four hundred and thirty years, yet God’s promise stands sure amidst them all. Yes, God’s word will stand fast for ever and ever! Heaven and earth may pass away, but his word cannot pass away.

12:37-42 The children of Israel set forward without delay. A mixed multitude went with them. Some, perhaps, willing to leave their country, laid waste by plagues; others, out of curiosity; perhaps a few out of love to them and their religion. But there were always those among the Israelites who were not Israelites. Thus there are still hypocrites in the church. This great event was 430 years from the promise made to Abraham: see Ga 3:17. So long the promise of a settlement was unfulfilled. But though God's promises are not performed quickly, they will be, in their season. This is that night of the Lord, that remarkable night, to be celebrated in all generations. The great things God does for his people, are to be not only a few days' wonder, but to be remembered throughout all ages; especially the work of our redemption by Christ. This first passover-night was a night of the Lord, much to be observed; but the last passover-night, in which Christ was betrayed and in which the first passover, with the rest of the Jewish ceremonies, was done away, was a night of the Lord, much more to be observed. Then a yoke, heavier than that of Egypt, was broken from off our necks, and a land, better than that of Canaan, set before us. It was a redemption to be celebrated in heaven, for ever and ever.Who dwelt - Read, which they sojourned. The obvious intention of Moses is to state the duration of the sojourn in Egypt. 40. the sojourning of the children of Israel … four hundred and thirty years—The Septuagint renders it thus: "The sojourning of the children and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt." These additions are important, for the period of sojourn in Egypt did not exceed two hundred fifteen years; but if we reckon from the time that Abraham entered Canaan and the promise was made in which the sojourn of his posterity in Egypt was announced, this makes up the time to four hundred thirty years. It is plain that those years are to be computed from the first promise made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1,2, to the giving of the law, from Galatians 3:17, where this is affirmed. And although it doth not plainly appear when that promise was made, because the Scripture mentions not Abraham’s age, neither when it was made, nor when Abraham came to Haran with his father, Genesis 11:31, but only when he went out of Haran, being seventy-five years old, Genesis 12:4; yet a good while after it was made, and, as it may seem more than probable, thirty years afterward, it is manifest there were only four hundred years of this time to come, Genesis 15:13. And many more years passed ere there was such a man as Israel or Jacob, and more ere there were any children of Israel, or of Jacob, and yet more ere they came into Egypt. How then can this be true which is here said?

Answ. 1. Some affirm that they were in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, which is sooner said than proved.

2. Some ancient Hebrew copies are said to have had more words than ours now have; for the LXX. and Samaritan interpreters after the words in Egypt, read, and in the land of Canaan. And some other copies after the word who, add, together with their fathers, or, and their fathers. And so rite difficulty vanisheth. And if it should be granted that there were some few such errors in our present copies in matters irately historical or chronological, which God might permit to be there for many wise and holy reasons, yet this is no prejudice to our faith, or to God’s providence, which hath been pleased to have so special a care of those texts which concern the essentials of faith and a good life, that all copies are agreed in them.

3. These four hundred and thirty years are not by the text confined to Egypt, but may be extended to any place where they were sojourners; and the Hebrew word asher is not to be rendered which, as relating to the time of their sojourning, but who, as belonging to the persons sojourning, as our translation well renders it; and the sense is, that they were sojourners, or, which is all one, strangers, or dwellers in a land that was not theirs, as it is said Genesis 15:13, for four hundred and thirty years. And the emphasis lies in the Hebrew word moshab, which is here fitly rendered sojourning; as toshab, coming from the same root, is commonly used for a sojourner, or one that lives in a place or land which is not his, as Leviticus 22:10 25:35,40 Num 35:15 Psalm 39:12. There is now but one difficulty remains, How the children of Israel can be said to be sojourners so long, seeing much of this time passed before they were born?

Answ. As Levi is said to pay tithes in Abraham, Hebrews 7:9, because he was in the loins of Abraham when Abraham paid tithes; with much more reason might the children of Israel be said to sojourn so long, because they sojourned a great part of it in their own persons, and the rest in the loins of their parents. And as ofttimes when the parents only are men- tioned, the children are included or intended, as Genesis 12:3, in thee, i.e. in thy seed; and Genesis 13:17, I will give it (the land) unto thee, i.e. to thy seed; and Jacob is said to be brought up again out of Egypt, Genesis 46:4, to wit, in his posterity; and David is oft put for his posterity, as 1 Kings 12:16 Ezekiel 34:23 37:24,25; why may not parents also be understood sometimes when the children only are mentioned? But we need not make suppositions, seeing we have examples; the persecution in Egypt, and deliverance out of it, which happened to the parents only, being attributed to their posterity, who neither felt the one, nor saw the other, Deu 26:5, &c. Compare Psalm 16:6 Judges 10:11,12. And the souls of the house of Jacob, (i.e. of the children of Israel, for by house it is evident he means only children,) which came with Jacob into Egypt, are said to be threescore and ten souls, Genesis 46:26,27. In which number and title Jacob himself is confessedly included. And therefore upon the very same ground, under this title of the children of Israel, we must understand Israel himself, who being the chief author and subject of this sojourning in Egypt, it were unreasonable to exclude him from the number of those sojourners. And this phrase being once extended to their immediate parent, may by a parity of reason be extended to their great grandfather Abraham, as being the first author of that famous peregrination or sojourning, which being begun in Canaan, ended in Egypt. Add to this, that the word Israel, as it is put for the people or children of Israel, is elsewhere used for the whole church of God, as Romans 9:6, and therefore may well include Abraham as the father, and, under God, the founder of it. And the title of

the children of Israel might well be given to all that people, and to the family from which they descended, because they were now known by that name. And that this indeed was Moses’s meaning, which is here produced, may be further gathered from hence, that otherwise Moses had contradicted himself; for by the years of the lives of Jacob, and Levi, and Kohath, and Amram, and Moses himself, which he precisely sets down, it appears that the sojourning of the children of Israel, strictly so called, in Egypt, was not above two hundred and fifteen years. And it is absurd to think that so wise and learned a man, as all acknowledge Moses to have been, should commit so gross an error, especially seeing that generation could easily have confuted him.

Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt,.... The Septuagint version adds, "and in the land of Canaan"; and the Samaritan version is,"the sojourning of the children of Israel, and of their fathers, in the land of Canaan, and in the land of Egypt.''Agreeably to which are both the Talmuds: in one (o) of them the words are,"in Egypt and in all lands,''and in the other (p),"in Egypt, and in the rest of the lands;''and in the same way Aben Ezra interprets the words. And certain it is, that Israel did not dwell in Egypt four hundred and thirty years, and even not much more than two hundred years; but then they and their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, dwelt so long in Mesopotamia, in Canaan, and in Egypt, in foreign countries, in a land not theirs, as the phrase is, Genesis 15:13 where the place of their sojourning, and the time of it, are given by way of prophecy. The Jews reckon from the vision of God to Abraham between the pieces to the birth of Isaac thirty years, so the Targum of Jonathan; but that cannot be, though from his coming out of his own native place, Ur of the Chaldeans, to the birth of Isaac, might be so many years, since he was seventy five years of age when he came out of Haran, Genesis 12:4 and if he stayed at Haran five years, as probably he did, then there were just thirty from his coming out of Ur of the Chaldees to Isaac's birth, since he was born when he was one hundred years old; and from the birth of Isaac to the birth of Jacob was sixty years, Genesis 25:26 and from thence to his going down to Egypt was one hundred and thirty, Genesis 47:9 and from thence to the coming of Israel out of Egypt were two hundred and ten years, as is generally computed, which make the exact sum of four hundred and thirty years; of these See Gill on Acts 7:6, Galatians 3:17.

(o) T. Hieros. Magillah, fol. 71. 4. (p) T. Bab. Megillah, fol. 9. 1.

Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
40. four hundred and thirty years] cf. the round number 400 in Genesis 15:13 (hence Acts 7:6, Jos. Ant. ii. 9.1, BJ. v. 9. 4). Whether it is historically correct is more than we can say: not only is Egyptian chronology itself uncertain, but we do not know the Eg. king under whom Jacob went down into Egypt; hence we have no independent data for fixing with precision the interval between Jacob’s migration into Egypt and the Exodus. The chronology of P (from whom all systematic dates in the Pent. are derived) is artificial, and in many of its particulars entirely undeserving of confidence: still this figure may itself be correct. It is however inconsistent with the many passages of P (see on Exodus 6:27), which place Moses and his contemporaries in the fourth generation from Jacob’s sons. P himself may have been unconscious of the inconsistency; for he may have reckoned—of course, falsely—a generation at 100 years (cf. Genesis 15:16, comp. with 13). In a later age it appears to have been noticed; and in all probability the reading of LXX. Sam. here ‘in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, was 430 years,’ originated in an endeavour to lessen it: for, as the period from Abraham’s migration into Canaan to Jacob’s descent into Egypt was (according to P) 215 years (Genesis 12:4; Genesis 21:5; Genesis 25:26; Genesis 47:9), this reading reduces the period of the sojourn in Egypt to half of that stated in the Heb. text. The reading of Sam. LXX. was followed by St Paul in Galatians 3:17, by Jos. Ant. ii. 15. 2, and by many ancient Jewish and Christian authorities; but it cannot be the original text; not only has Israel’s sojourn in Egypt alone to do with the present context, but until the birth of Jacob’s sons there were no ‘children of Israel’ to dwell in Canaan at all. Cf. the Introd. p. xlv.

40, 41. The length of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt.

Verses 40-42. - The narrative of the departure from Egypt is followed, not unnaturally, by a notification of the length of the sojourn, which is declared to have been a space of four hundred and thirty years. In the "Introduction" to the Book, we have examined the question, which here arises,

1. As to the soundness; and

2. As to the true meaning, of the Hebrew text, and have arrived at the conclusion that it is sound, and that it means what it says, viz., that 430 years elapsed between the arrival of Jacob in Egypt, with his sons, and sons' sons, and their families, as related in Genesis 46:1-27, and the commencement of the exodus. The time is required by the genealogy of Joshua (1 Chronicles 7:22-27). It is in remarkable accordance with the traditions that Joseph was the minister of Apspi, and that the Jews went out under Menephthah. If not absolutely required for the multiplication of the race from "seventy souls" to above two millions, it is at any rate more in accord with that fact than the alternative number, 215. It is twice repeated, so that "the mistake of a copyist" is almost impossible. Verse 40. - The sojourning of the children of Israel, which dwelt in Egypt. Rather, "Which they sojourned in Egypt." (Compare the Septuagint - ἡ κατοίκησις η{ν κατῴκησαν.) Four hundred and thirty years. Literally "thirty years and four hundred years." Exodus 12:40The sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt had lasted 430 years. This number is not critically doubtful, nor are the 430 years to be reduced to 215 by an arbitrary interpolation, such as we find in the lxx, ἡ δὲ κατοίκησις τῶν υἱῶν Ἰσραήλ ἥν κατῷκησαν (Cod. Alex. αὐτοὶ καὶ οί πατέρες αὐτῶν) ἐν γῇ Αἰγύπτῳ καὶ ἐν γῇ Χαναάν, κ.τ.λ. This chronological statement, the genuineness of which is placed beyond all doubt by Onkelos, the Syriac, Vulgate, and other versions, is not only in harmony with the prediction in Genesis 15:13, where the round number 400 is employed in prophetic style, but may be reconciled with the different genealogical lists, if we only bear in mind that the genealogies do not always contain a complete enumeration of all the separate links, but very frequently intermediate links of little historical importance are omitted, as we have already seen in the genealogy of Moses and Aaron (Exodus 6:18-20). For example, the fact that there were more than the four generations mentioned in Exodus 6:16. between Levi and Moses, is placed beyond all doubt, not only by what has been adduced at Exodus 6:18-20, but by a comparison with other genealogies also. Thus, in Numbers 26:29., Exodus 27:1; Joshua 17:3, we find six generations from Joseph to Zelophehad; in Ruth 4:18., 1 Chronicles 2:5-6, there are also six from Judah to Nahshon, the tribe prince in the time of Moses; in 1 Chronicles 2:18 there are seven from Judah to Bezaleel, the builder of the tabernacle; and in 1 Chronicles 7:20., nine or ten are given from Joseph to Joshua. This last genealogy shows most clearly the impossibility of the view founded upon the Alexandrian version, that the sojourn of the Israelites in Egypt lasted only 215 years; for ten generations, reckoned at 40 years each, harmonize very well with 430 years, but certainly not with 215.

(Note: The Alexandrian translators have arbitrarily altered the text to suit the genealogy of Moses in Exodus 6:16., just as in the genealogies of the patriarchs in Genesis 5 and 11. The view held by the Seventy became traditional in the synagogue, and the Apostle Paul followed it in Galatians 3:17, where he reckoned the interval between the promise to Abraham and the giving of the law as 430 years, the question of chronological exactness having no bearing upon his subject at the time.)

The statement in Exodus 12:41, "the self-same day," is not to be understood as relating to the first day after the lapse of the 430 years, as though the writer supposed that it was on the 14th Abib that Jacob entered Egypt 430 years before, but points back to the day of the exodus, mentioned in Exodus 12:14, as compared with Exodus 12:11., i.e., the 15th Abib (cf. Exodus 12:51 and Exodus 13:4). On "the hosts of Jehovah," see Exodus 7:4.

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