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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?

  • Ken Griffith

    April 13, 2021 at 6:31 pm

    Here is a draft of an unpublished paper I’ve written on this subject that respectfully disagrees with Dr. Petrovich.

    Appendix – The Scriptural Durations

    Dr. Floyd Nolan Jones commendably defended his interpretations of the scriptural durations in The Chronology of the Old Testament. Yet, there are a few of them for which we might improve on his arguments, while getting the same answers.

    First consider the passages which give the Biblical durations:

    * Genesis 5-8 give a total of 1656 yrs from Adam to the Flood

    * Genesis 11 gives 352 years from Flood to the death of Terah

    * Genesis 12 gives Abraham’s age as 75 when he entered Canaan and went down to Egypt

    * Acts 7 – Abraham entered Canaan immediately after his father died.

    * Exodus 12 – Sojourn of children of Israel in “Misr” was 430 years

    * Genesis 15 – Abraham’s children will be afflicted 400 years

    * 1 Kings 6:1 – Solomon began temple 480 years from Exodus, in his 4th year

    * 1 Kings 11:42 Solomon reigned 40 years

    * Ezekiel 4:5 390 years of Iniquity of Israel preceded the destruction of temple (586 bc)

    * Judges 11:26 from year of crossing Jordan to Jepthah was 300 years

    * Judges 12:7-13 to 13:1 From Jepthah to Sampson was 6 + 7 + 10 + 8 + 40 = 71 yrs

    * Acts 13 450 year period often interpreted as from Division of land to Samuel

    Of these passages, four are controversial:

    430 years begins with Abraham or Jacob?

    400 years suffering begins with Isaac or Jacob?

    450 years defines the Judges or the time from Isaac to division of the land?

    480 years from Exodus to Temple excludes years of oppression or is complete?

    In two of the controversies the Bible gives both a total duration for the period as well as many short durations of rulers during that period. Choosing to sum up the short durations in a way that differs from the total duration for the period leads to errors.

    Long versus Short Sojourn

    Finnegan, Steinman, and Petrovich all interpret the sojourn in Egypt as beginning with Jacob’s entry in the second year of famine and ending with the Exodus. They interpret the sojourn of the “Children of Israel” in Exodus 12 defining this period as starting with Jacob, who was given the name “Israel” by God. Petrovich argues that the Hebrew text only allows the 430 years to be in Egypt, not “Egypt and Canaan” as stated in the Septuagint. However, Petrovich has missed the forest because of his focus on the trees.

    Jones shows that the 430 years began with Abram’s visit to Egypt in 1921 BC. The 400 years of affliction began with Ishmael the son of the Egyptian Hagar mocking Isaac at his weaning at age five, 30 years after entering Canaan. The 450 years from the “choosing of the fathers” until the division of the land in Acts 13 also began with the weaning of Isaac.

    In the same year as Isaac’s weaning Abraham began to suffer persecution by the Philistines stopping up his well, and he accepted a covenant from Abimelech to live under his rule in the land of the Philistines. (Genesis 21:22-32) In the Levant at this time period a covenant always defined a lord and a vassal. In this case Abimelech was the lord, and Abraham was the vassal.

    As Petrovich rightly points out, the Hebrew of Exodus 12 does not have the word “Egypt”, it is the word “Misraim.” Misraim is the father of the Egyptian tribes as well as the Philistines. When Abraham entered Canaan it was ruled by Philistines under the control of the Egyptian Fourth Dynasty, and it remained under Egyptian control until the Exodus in 1491.

    Therefore, Abraham was sojourning in the “land of Misraim” from the day he crossed the Euphrates and entered Canaan. There is also evidence that as late as the Neo-Assyrian Empire, parts of the Levant were still called “Musri” by the Assyrians.

    Second, the choice of the words “children of Israel” is required because Abraham had seven sons who left Canaan and went East, leaving Egyptian territory. Isaac had two sons, of which one named Esau went East, leaving Egyptian territory.

    Jacob, given the name “Israel,” was the first of Abraham’s descendants of whom it could be said that all of his descendants endured the sojourn under Misraim until the Exodus.

    Thus using the same sense as the author of Hebrews which states that Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek while in the loins of his great-grandfather Abraham, so also, the children of Israel began their sojourn under Misraim in the loins of Abraham on the day he crossed the Euphrates River into Canaan, on the 15th of Nisan, 1921 BC.

    The third duration of 450 years given in Acts 13 proves this.

    Acts 13:19-20 is usually translated as follows:

    “And when He had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, He distributed their land to them by allotment. After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.”

    However, in the Greek original text there were no periods. And the word order is different. The Greek word order is as follows:

    “And having destroyed nations seven in the land of Canaan he gave as an inheritance of the land of them during years four hundred and fifty and after these things he gave them judges until Samuel the prophet”

    It is evident from the context that the 450 years refers to the previous block of events, not the following one. It counts from the “choosing of the fathers” at the weaning of Isaac to the division of the land by Joshua.

    Four centuries from Isaac to the Exodus, plus 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, plus 10 years of Joshua’s conquest and division of the land, gives 450 years from the choosing of the fathers until the fulfillment of the land promise, as per Joshua 21:43:

    “So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.”

    The Egyptian Side of the Equation Agrees

    We do not claim that Egyptian history dictates our interpretation of the Bible. But as we’ve shown in chapters 6-12, the Egyptian history perfectly agrees with the Ussher-Jones interpretation of the duration of the sojourn “in Egypt.”

    Petrovich follows Stewart in saying that Joseph served under Sesostris I of the 12th Dynasty. However, we have very good data for the lengths of reigns and co-reigns of the 12th dynasty. The 12th Dynasty ended a few decades short of 215 years after Senusret I’s 11th year which was the second year of famine, when Jacob came down into Egypt. Petrovich, therefore, gives us a scenario where the Exodus would have occurred in the middle of the Hyksos period, two centuries after the end of Dynasty 12.

    Historically, the most likely time of the Exodus was after the 12th Dynasty ended without an heir and Pepi II of the Sixth Dynasty had taken control over all of Egypt. Pepi died and his son, Merenre II lived for one year before being “killed by his enemies.” Dynasty 13, also co-reigning as the viziers, also had a pharaoh who died at this time. Ka-ankh-ra is listed as Concharis in the Book of Sothis, who died in his fifth year, which was seven hundred years from the accession of Menes, the first king of Egypt.

    Our chronology finds that the Exodus occurred 40 years after the disappearance of Amenemhat IV of Dynasty 12 in Thebes, who was Moses. The kings reigning when the Exodus occurred were Merenre II of Dynasty 6 in Memphis and Koncharis (Ka-ankh-ra) of Dynasty 13.

    Long versus Short Judges

    Those who interpret the 450 years of Acts 13:20 as measuring from the Conquest until Samuel encounter the difficulty that the 480 years from the Exodus to the Temple cannot accommodate this. 40 years in the wilderness, and 42 years of David’s reign after Samuel’s death, plus 4 years to the temple, results in about 536 years total.

    Rather than conclude the 450 years must not be intended to apply to this period, commentators came up with the theory that 480 obedient years omits 86 years of disobedience.

    However, the 300 years to Jephthah do not allow for this theory, as Jephthah was only 71 years years before Sampson who reigned 20 years before Samuel, thus giving only 391 years from the Conquest until Samuel. This breaks the long judges chronology.

    The only way to harmonize all the passages is to apply the 450 years to the time from Isaac to the division of the land.

    In debating the 450 years duration with other scholars, we have seen them insist the 450 years must be taken literally, while in the same breath saying the 480 years only includes the years of obedience. There is no Scriptural warrant for the “years of obedience” argument. Yes, it does appear in one sense to triangulate, if you count the years of oppression to add up to 86 years. But it breaks the triangulations of the other durations we are given in Scripture.

    The interpretation of Jones harmonizes both the 450 and the 480 years as being literal and accurate. This interpretation also harmonizes with extra-biblical data we have about Egypt during the same time period.

    Again, we do not claim that Egyptian history dictates our interpretation of the Bible. But as we’ve shown in chapters 6-12, the Egyptian history perfectly agrees with the Ussher-Jones interpretation of the short chronology for the Judges.

    Long Versus Short Divided Kingdom

    After deciphering Akkadian in the late 19th century, scholars identified several synchronisms between Shalmaneser III of Assyria and Ahab and Jehu of Israel. The problem is that the dates of Shalmaneser are 44 years lower than the Bible’s dates for Ahab. Thiele assumed the Biblical data was in error and needed to be corrected. A Bible believer would assume the opposite.

    The Assyrian king list has many inconsistencies and never warranted such absolute trust. Furthermore, Ezekiel 4:5 gives us the duration from Jeroboam’s idolatry (the sin of Israel) to the destruction of the Temple in 586 BC, as 390 years.

    For the third time, we do not claim that Egyptian history dictates our interpretation of the Bible. But as we’ve shown in chapters 6-12, the Egyptian history for this period agrees with the Ussher-Jones interpretation of the long chronology for the Divided Kingdom, placing Solomon’s death in 975 BC.


    Considering the fact that we have three interpretations of the controversial Biblical passages that are internally consistent with the Bible, and the fact that we have three interpretations of the Egyptian data for those same time periods, and they both agree, suggests that Jones correctly solved the Bible chronology. The fact that our Egyptian chronology agrees so exactly with Ussher-Jones suggests that we have solved the Egyptian chronology problem correctly as well.