The 400 years of Sojourn for the Israelites.

13 Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. (Genesis 15:13, NIV)

The aforementioned scripture is the subject of much debate. Some believe that the Bible contradicts itself in ascribing the number of years of sojourn for Abraham and his descendents. I will endeavor to succinctly shed light on the matter.

Genesis 15:13 God tells Abram (who would eventually become Abraham) that his seed would be sojourners or strangers in a foreign land for 400 years; that Egypt would be punished for enslaving Israel; that Israel would become rich; that Abraham would live long; and that his seed would come out of Egypt in the 4th generation to defeat the Amorites. All of these prophesies were fulfilled in the Exodus and the settlement of Canaan under Moses and Joshua (EX. 7:1-14; 31; Num. 21:21-25; Josh. 12).

The actual sojourn of Abraham’s seed in Egypt was only 215 years. There were other countries which made of the land of sojourn (12:1-20; 13:1-18; 15:13-14; 20:1-18; 21:22-34;23:4; 26:3-35; 28:10; 29:1; 31:13-55; 35:6; 37:1; 46:1-7; 47:27; 50:22-26; Ex.1-12; Heb. 11:8-10). The 400 years of Gen. 15:13 and Act 7:6 date back to the time when Isaac was weaned and confirmed as the seed (heir) and Ishmael was cast out of the home (Gen. 21:12; Gal. 4:30). At that time Isaac was 5 years old.

Other scriptures speak of the period as being 430 years (Ex. 12:40; Gal. 3:14-17), and that places the date of original reference further back, to take into consideration the the  first 5 years of Isaac’s life and the 25 years previous to his birth, when Abraham went to Canaan to sojourn.

Below you will see a brief time bulletin which how the 430 years are accounted for:

How the 430 years are determined                                                                   Years

  • From the 75th year of Abraham’s life to the birth of Isaac            25
  • From Isaac’s birth to that of Jacob (Gen. 12:4, 21:5)                       60
  • From Jacob’s birth to his death                                                                147
  • From Jacob’s death to that of Joseph (Gen. 37:2; 41:46;
  • 47:28;   50:22                                                                                                    54
  • From Joseph’s death to the Exodus from Egypt (Ex. 12:40;
  •              Gal: 3:14-17                                                                                         144
  •                                                                         Total                                            430


Bishop Rick Wallace