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Home Forums Existence of the Israelites in Egypt How long was the sojourn in Egypt? Reply To: How long was the sojourn in Egypt?

  • Deborah Hurn

    January 5, 2021 at 3:06 am

    In support of the idea that Abram was first called aged 55 yrs in Ur of the Chaldees are details in the patriarchal history:

    Gen 11:27-32 JPS Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begot Lot. (28) And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. (29) And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. (30) And Sarai was barren; she had no child. (31) And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. (32) And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years; and Terah died in Haran.

    Act 7:2-4 NRSV And Stephen replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our ancestor Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, (3) and said to him, ‘Leave your country and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you.’ (4) Then he left the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God had him move from there to this country in which you are now living.

    So, Abram’s father Terah took Abram his son and Lot his grandson and left Ur for Canaan. Right from the beginning in Ur, therefore, there was a divine calling to migrate to Canaan (cf. Gen 15:7). Reading between the lines, it seems that when the family arrived in Haran, Terah didn’t want to go further, so they dwelt there until he died. Perhaps the initial calling was to both Terah and Abram in Ur, but Terah lost momentum/faith. When he died in Haran, Abram was then free to continue on and obey the calling. Nahor, however, did not continue on to Canaan, and his descendants in Haran later supplied wives to Abram’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob.

    Note that Abram and Lot had gained possessions and persons in Haran:

    Gen 12:5 NRSV Abram took his wife Sarai and his brother’s son Lot, and all the possessions that they had gathered, and the persons whom they had acquired in Haran; and they set forth to go to the land of Canaan.

    This takes time. These proposed 20 years in Haran anticipate (echo) Jacob’s 20 years in Haran when he fled from Esau and over that time acquired 4 wives, 11 sons, and a lot of livestock. From these texts combined, I think it is eminently reasonable to suppose that the extended family spent 20 years in Haran.

    Thus, the 30-year difference between the 430 years from the first calling in Ur of the Chaldees (involving both Terah and Abram) and the 400 years (involving only Abram) in Canaan thus consists of 20 yrs “dwelling” in Haran and another 10 years “dwelling” in Canaan until Abram received the second promise (the covenant) at age 85 (Gen 15; 16:3). This seems to be a very simple solution for what has become a difficult problem. Surely I am not the only one to have suggested this.