Joseph and BrethrenFrom this point forward Joseph will dominate the majority of the next chapters. Joseph the dreamer, who was betrayed by his brothers, sold into Egyptian slavery and eventually would become the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. Much like Esther, it was for “such a time as this.” God was orchestrating provision for great famine that would occur and more than that God was slowly fulfilling prophetic promise that had been given to Abraham many years prior.

Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.

Joseph was 30 years old when he was promoted in Egypt and scripture tells us that Joseph died when he was 110 years old. Therefore, from simple math alone we can arrive at the valid conclusion that Joseph lived in Egypt in a position of leadership for 80 years. If Joseph was indeed sold into slavery when he was 17 then there is a total of 13 years that involved prison and working in Potiphar’s house. Therefore Joseph was technically in Egypt for a total of 93 years until his death.

We know from scripture that Jacob and his household entered into Egypt during the second year of famine (Gen. 45:11). How many entered into Egypt with Jacob is the question we must sort out. According to three scriptures in the Old Testament we see that seventy Israelites enter into Egypt (Genesis 46:27, Exodus 1:5, and Deuteronomy 10:22.) However, based upon the testimony of Stephen in Acts 7 we are told that there were a total of seventy-five.

On the surface these seem to contradict each other. How can three verses in the Old Testament declare that only seventy entered into Egypt and Stephen tell us seventy-five? Stephen did not contradict the Old Testament numbers but rather he just computed differently. There are a few reasons this could have happened.

In Genesis 46:27, neither Jacob’s wife (Genesis 35:19) nor his concubines are included in the number of the household entering Egypt. It also mentions Jacob’s “daughters and his son’s daughters” (Genesis 46:7), yet the only daughter included in the seventy was Dinah (vs. 15,) and the only granddaughter was Serah (vs. 17). We also find that the wives of Jacob’s sons are not included in the seventy (Genesis 46:26.) Finally, when one reads the Hebrew text only two descendants of Joseph are mentioned in Genesis 46 while in the Septuagint the descendants of Joseph are counted as nine.

In regards to the Masoretic and Septuagint texts, there are many scholars who believe that Stephen was quoting from the Septuagint when he said what he said. Deuteronomy 10:22 reads the same in both of the texts, yet Genesis 46:27 and Exodus 1:5 differ. The Hebrew text says “seventy” while the Septuagint says “seventy-five.” Various commentators conclude that this is nothing more than easy addition.

The descendants of Jacob that went to Egypt were sixty-six in number (Genesis 46:26,) but when counting Joseph and his two children and Jacob also, then number comes up to be seventy. The Septuagint tells us that “all the sons of Joseph who he got in Egypt were counted, “nine souls.” Sixty-six plus nine equals seventy-five. (R.C.H. Lenski Commentary) Therefore, many conclude, that instead of the Masoretic contradicting the Septuagint it is only including the grandchildren of Joseph into the number of those entering Egypt (1 Chronicles 7:14-21.)

However, there is another possibility which makes this number unimportant in my opinion.  Is it possible that with this 70-75 number of the immediate household of Jacob that we are also forgetting the many servants? Remember that Abraham himself had 318 servants in his household (Gen. 14:14) who were more than likely all male, therefore not including women and children servants!

There are some that estimate that Abraham’s entire estate (if I may call it that) could have numbered around 3,000! We need to provide for the fact that servants marry and have children too! If this is this case then we are set upon with a staggering number of people that enter into Goshen at the time Jacob’s household entered also! This would explain not only the rapid increase that troubled the future king of Egypt but also the unbelievable number of the Israelites and the mixed multitude! (Exodus 12:37-38.)

TIME IN EGYPT: Sojourn and Bondage

Taking the premise of the household of Jacob and the vast numbers of servants that went into Egypt during the time of famine shown just how incredible the promise of God towards His children really is. However, as to the time Israel spent in Egypt is up-for-debate.  The Bible bounces between two numbers (400 and 430) in relation to the time span that Israel was sojourning in Egypt.

Exodus 12:40-41 (KJV)
40 Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

Genesis 15:13 (KJV)
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;

Acts 7:6 (KJV)
6 And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years.



As one can quickly see, scripture presents what many declare another contradiction of scripture. In Galatians 3:17, the apostle Paul tells us that the Law of Moses (given three months after the Israelites exit from Egypt) came 430 years AFTER God had made his covenant with Abraham. However, Moses also stated in Exodus 12, as we have seen, that the children of Israel sojourned in Egypt 430 years. How can this be possible when accepted Bible chronology shows us that a minimum of 215 years passed between the time God called Abraham and the time Israel (Jacob and his household) entered Egypt?

To get a better understanding of the sojourn in Egypt we can easily start with a reference point found in Genesis 46:11 which clearly indicate that Kohath, the son of Levi and grandfather of Moses, was born prior to Jacob moving to Egypt with his sons. From this we can then ask the questions: if Kohath had just been born at that time and if Amram was born the last day of Kohath’s life then Amram could not have been born no later than 134 years after entering Egypt based upon the fact that Kohath died at 133 years old (Exodus 6:18.)

Amram lived 137 years (Exodus 6:20.) If Amram had fathered Moses on the last day of his life, then Moses would have been born no later than 272 years after Jacob and his household entered into Egypt. Understand that we are just allowing for the maximum amount and thus putting the birth of these children on the last day of the father’s known year to live. Also, in each instance we are adding a year based upon a 10 month total term pregnancy. (133+1 + 137 +1= 272.)

We all know that Moses was 80 years old when the Exodus of Israel occurred. In fact as an interesting side note, Moses’ life is filled with increments of 40. Forty years in Egypt, forty years in wilderness of Midian, and forty years of wandering in the wilderness where Moses would die at 120.

Add the 80 to the 272 and we arrive at 352 years which would be considered the MAXIMUM time that Israel was in Egyptian bondage. Barnes and various other commenters arrive at the maximum sojourn of 350 years. What we often fail to recognize is that scripture never tells us that the BONDAGE was 400-430 years. The keyword used is “sojourn.” If it was indeed 215 years from when God called Abraham at 75 years old to the time that Jacob and his household entered into Egypt we suddenly see the easy truth.

This is clarified even more by the words of the Apostle Paul.

Galatians 3:16-17 (KJV)
16 Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.
17 And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

The 430 years begins with God’s promise to Abram, made at the time he entered into Canaan and ended with the giving of the law, which was the same year as the Exodus (Law was given three months after Exodus.) Therefore the sojourn in Egypt (Jacobs’s arrival until the Exodus) lasted around the same length of time! Another principle prophecy that is easily missed is found in Genesis 15:16.

Genesis 15:16 (KJV)
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

It would be during the lifespan of the fourth generation that they would emerge from the land Abram had been told about.  Moses is the 4th generation from Jacob (Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses.) What is interesting to note is that Joshua and Caleb were born a year before or the same year of Moses flight from Egypt. The Egypt they knew was WITHOUT Moses

If Jacob did not enter Egypt until the period of famine that followed the period of plenty it helps us narrow this down a little better. We know that Jacob’s household arrived in Egypt at some point in the second year of famine (Gen. 45:11).  When they arrived Joseph would be approximately 39 years old.  (30 when placed in position, 7 years of plenty and 2 years out of 7 of famine).

Therefore Jacob and his household would have lived relatively easy for at least 71 years (Josephs death at (110) – age when Jacob entered Egypt (39).) The scriptures then tell us that when Joseph died there arose another king that knew not Joseph. Is this all that scripture tells us? No! In fact, there is a space of time between Joseph’s death and the arrival of the new king.

Exodus 1:6 (KJV)
6 And Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation.

How many times have we read through scripture and missed this crucial key? All his brethren died and all THAT generation! This is not hard to imagine due to the fact that Joseph, outside of Benjamin, was the youngest of his brothers. Yet, the Midrash believes that Joseph outlived all of his brothers based upon Genesis 50:24 in which he speaks to his brethren saying “I die.” Whether this means his immediate brethren or the larger contingency of his people we do not know. Regardless, before the new king arrives all twelve of the sons of Jacob are dead and the entire generation associated with them.

We do know that Joseph lived to see his great-great-grandchildren by Ephraim and his great-grandchildren by Manasseh (Genesis 50:23.) So we see in this span of time the children of Israel saw the incredible promise of God given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as their seed increased abundantly, multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty until the land was FILLED with them (Exodus 1:7.) ***The word “increased abundantly” is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 1:20 when God commanded the waters to “swarm” with fishes. ***

How much time passed between the death of Joseph and the birth of Moses? As we can see there is an interval of time between these two instances in history while the children of Israel are living in Egyptian prosperity and increase. If Jacob went down into Egypt at 130 (Gen. 47:9) and Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born (Gen. 25:26) then Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born (Gen. 25:1.) This entire period comes to 290 years. Subtract 75 years for the age of Abram when the covenant of Genesis 12 was given and we get 215 years. This easily gives us 215 years of sojourning in and around Canaan and 215 years of sojourning and oppression in Goshen and Egypt.

Joseph lived to be 110 (Gen. 50:26). Joseph was 39 when Jacob arrived in Goshen at age 130 (Gen. 45:6). This means that Joseph protected the Israelites in Goshen for about 71 years. Moses was born 80 years before the exodus. That accounts for 151 of the 215 years, and means that between the death of Joseph and the birth of Moses were 64 years. Sometime during that period of time the slavery and oppression began.

Let’s just assume the half-way mark of 32 years after the death of Joseph which is fairly ample time for such a large host of Israelites and those connected to them to increase and a new king to arise. We would then have a period of 112 years of persecution. That would place Moses being born after Goshen being in bondage for 32 years, then adding his 80 years until the Exodus.

WHAT ABOUT THE 400 YEARS NUMBER?

How then did we get the 400 year number found in Genesis 15 and Galatians 4? Most believe it began when Isaac was five years old which was the approximate time that Isaac was weaned and when Ishmael was seen laughing at the feast.  It was this laugher that Paul constituted as persecution in Galatians 4:29.

NOTE OF INTEREST: Remember Ishmael’s mother is EGYPTIAN (Gen. 21:9.) The play on words cannot be overlooked when Isaac’s name means “laughter” (Hb. Yitschaq.) and Ishmael is seen laughing (Heb: Tsachaq.) Abraham Tsachaq in (Gen. 17:17), Sarah Tsachaq in (Gen. 18:12), and when Isaac is born she names him “Tsachaq” because all that hear of his birth will Tsachaq because of her age at the time of birth (Gen. 21:6-7.) Ishmael is seen “Tsachaq” at the feast celebrating “Yitschaq.) Isaac is later seen as an adult “Tsachaq” with Rebekah (Gen. 26:8), and when Joseph is in the house of Potiphar it is the wife of Potiphar that proclaims a Hebrew was brought in to Tsachaq the household of Egyptians! 

So the 400 years began with Isaac being weaned around five years old. It is up for debate whether Ishmael was persecuting Isaac in the sense that we arrive at from Galatians 4:29. It very well could have been that when Sarah saw Ishmael laughing (Tsachaq) at a feast celebrating (Isaac, Heb: Yitschaq-he laughs) that she realized Ishmael if allowed to continue as the accepted son of Abraham would receive part of the divided inheritance. The response of Abraham is evident that had things been allowed to continue the way they would then there would have been a division of inheritance.

Genesis 21:9-12 (KJV)
9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.
10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.
11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.
12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.