From Mark Copeland... "MINISTERING SPIRITS" Terms And Descriptions Of Angels

                         "MINISTERING SPIRITS"

                    Terms And Descriptions Of Angels


1. The subject of angels has certainly become a popular one...
   a. Bookstores are filled with books dealing with angels
   b. Popular TV shows and movies depict angels working in our lives
      ("Highway To Heaven", "Touched By An Angel", "The Preacher's
      Wife", "It's A Wonderful Life")

2. Angels were an important part of the Jewish religion...
   a. Angels assisted with the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai - cf.
      Deut 33:2; Ps 68:17; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19
   b. They appear throughout the history of Israel, coming to Abraham,
      Daniel, and many others

3. Angels also serve an important role in the Christian faith...
   a. They are described as "ministering spirits sent forth to minister
      for those who will inherit salvation" - He 1:13-14
   b. They have certainly ministered in the past - cf. Lk 1:11-38
   c. They will certainly minister at the time of Christ's return - cf.
      Mt 13:36-43

4. But to what extent do they minister in the present...?
   a. This is a subject that is prone to much speculation
   b. It is easy to get caught up in idle myths and fables
   c. About which we are warned to avoid - cf. 1Ti 1:3-4; 4:7; 6:20;
      2Ti 2:16; 4:3-4
   -- Yet angels are a Biblical subject, therefore worthy of careful

[With a desire to be content with what the Bible reveals on the subject
of angels, we begin this study with a look at some terms and
descriptions regarding angels...]


      1. The Hebrew word malak (found 103 times in the OT) simply means
         a. It can refer to a human messenger - 1Ki 19:2
            1) It is applied to the prophet Haggai - Hag 1:13
            2) It is applied to a priest - Mal 2:7
            3) It is applied to both John the Baptist and Jesus in
               prophecy - Mal 3:1
            4) The name of the prophet Malachi comes from the same word
         b. It can refer to a divine messenger - Gen 28:12
            1) Supernatural or heavenly beings sent as messengers to men
            2) Agents who carry out the will of God - ISBE
      2. The Greek word angelos likewise means "messenger"
         a. The word occurs 175 times in the NT
         b. Of men, it is used only 6 times in the NT

      1. Sons of God - God's sons by virtue of His creation 
         - cf. Job 1:6; 38:7
      2. Holy ones - suggesting they belong to God, 'set apart' for His
         purposes - Ps 89:5,7 (NASB, NIV)
      3. Watcher, watchers - likely referring to angels - cf. Dan 4:13,
      4. Host - denoting the armies of heaven, which likely included
         angels - cf. 1Sa 17:45
      5. Archangel - used twice, once in connection with Michael 
         - 1 Th 4:16; Jude 9
      6. Prince, chief princes, great prince - used in the book of
         Daniel - Dan 10:13,21; 12:1
      7. Paul used terms that may refer to angels 
         - cf. Col 1:16; Ep 1:21; 3:10
         a. Principalities (archai)
         b. Powers (exousiai)
         c. Thrones (thronoi)
         d. Dominions (kyriotetes)
         e. Powers (dynamesis)
         -- Yet these are sometimes distinguished from angels (Ro 8:38;
            1Pe 3:22), and at times described as negative forces (Col 2:
            15; Ep 6:12)

[It quickly becomes apparent that the Bible has a lot to say about
angels.  More about angels can be gleaned from the Bible as we


      1. They are spirit beings
         a. Called "spirits", suggesting they do not have corporeal
            bodies  - He 1:14
         b. Though they did reveal themselves at times in the form of
            human bodies - Gen 18:3
         c. They do not function as human beings in such things as
            marriage - Mk 12:25
         d. They are not subject to death - Lk 20:36
      2. They are created beings
         a. They are part of the creation that is to praise Jehovah
            - Ps 148:1-5
         b. They were created by Christ, among all other things - Co
      3. They are innumerable
         a. An innumerable company - He 12:22
         b. John's descriptions suggests their number is countless 
            - Re 5:11
      4. They are a higher order than man
         a. Man was created lower than the angels - He 2:6-7
         b. Angels are not capable of death - Lk 20:36
         c. They have greater wisdom, though limited 
            - 2Sa 14:20; Mt 24:36
         d. They have greater power, though it too is limited - Mt 28:2;
            Dan 10:13
      5. They always appeared as men
         a. Never as women or children, always clothed
         b. Other than Cherubim and Seraphim> (whose classification as
            angels is suspect), they never have wings - though cf.
            Re 8:13; 14:6
         c. Many times they were so disguised as men they were not first
            identified as angels - Gen 18:1-2; 19:1; He 13:2

      1. The archangel, the "great prince"
         a. Michael is called the archangel - Jude 9; cf. 1Th 4:16
         b. Michael is called the "great prince", who watched over
            Israel - Dan 12:1; cf. 10:21
         c. Michael is mentioned in Re 12:7
         d. Some (JWs and others) believe Michael was the pre-incarnate
      2. The chief princes
         a. Of whom Michael was one - Dan 10:13
         b. Some would include Gabriel in this classification
            1) The angel sent to explain visions to Daniel 
               - Dan 8:16;9:21
            2) Who also made announcements to Zacharias and Mary 
               - Lk 1:19,26
      3. The princes
         a. The term applied to angels in the book of Daniel 
            - e.g., Dan 10:13,21
         b. Also to what appear to be evil angelic forces 
            - cf. Dan 10:13,20-21
      4. The Angel of the Lord
         a. An angel who seems to speak as the Lord Himself 
            - e.g., Judg 2:1; Gen 16:10-13
         b. Leading some to wonder if this was the pre-incarnate Christ
      5. Cherubim?
         a. Thought by some to be an order or class of angels, though
            others hold them to be a higher class of heavenly beings
            than angels
         b. Whose purpose was to be "proclaimers and protectors of God's
            glorious presence, His sovereignty, and His Holiness"
            - C. Fred Dickason
         c. In the Bible...
            1) They stood guard at the Garden of Eden - Gen 3:24
            2) Their golden figures covered the mercy seat above the ark
               in the tabernacle - Exo 25:17-22
            3) Their designs graced the walls and veils of the
               tabernacle, and later in the temple 
               - Exo 26:1,31; 1 Kin 6:23-35; 7:29,36
            4) They attended the glory of God in Ezekiel's vision 
               - Ezek 1:1-28; cf. 10:1-20
         d. Their description fits those of the four living creatures in
            Revelation rather than angels - cf. Re 4:4-6
      6. Seraphim?
         a. Six winged creatures attending the Lord in Isaiah's vision
            - Isa 6:1-13
         b. Whose name literally means "burning one", also considered by
            many as a higher class than angels
         c. Their work was to "praise and proclaim the perfect holiness
            of God" - Dickason
         d. Their description is also akin to those of the four living
            creatures in Revelation rather than angels - cf. Re 4:8-9
      7. Satan and his angels
         a. Many believe that Satan is a fallen angel
            1) That he is "Lucifer", a name applied to the king of
               Babylon - Isa 14:1-12
            2) That he was among the highest of God's creation, a cherub
               whose fall and judgment is applied figuratively to the
               king of Tyre - cf. Ezek 28:11-19
         b. Satan does have his angels, for whom condemnation awaits
            - cf. Mt 25:41; Re 20:10
         c. The doctrine of Satan and his angels (along with demons)
            will hopefully be examined in another study


1. With this brief introduction it should be apparent that...
   a. The Bible has much to say about angels
   b. It is easy to speculate about angels

2. My hope and prayer is that our future studies will...
   a. Focus on what the Bible actually reveals
   b. Avoid the vain speculation that is condemned

In the course of our study, we should never forget the One who deserves
our greatest attention:

   "For to which of the angels did He ever say: 'You are My Son,
   Today I have begotten You'? And again: 'I will be to Him a Father,
   And He shall be to Me a Son'? But when He again brings the
   firstborn into the world, He says: 'Let all the angels of God
   worship Him.'" (He 1:5-6)

Have we joined the angels in worshipping the Son, through our own faith
and obedience...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Who could forget God’s promises to the “father of the faithful?” Not only would God bless all nations through Abraham and give his descendants the land upon which Abraham’s feet had trod, but God also would cause Abraham’s descendants to multiply so that they would be as countless as the stars of the sky. In Genesis 15:5, we read God’s promise to His friend Abraham: “Then He [God] brought him outside and said, ‘Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.’ And He said to him, ‘So shall your descendants be.’ ” The prophet Jeremiah referred to a similar promise that God issued to David, in which He explained that the stars “cannot be numbered” (33:22). Indeed, that the stars are numberless comes as no surprise to those of us who have seen pictures taken from the Moon, or peered into other galaxies through million-dollar telescopes.
Yet, the idea that the stars could conceivably be counted remained firmly planted in the minds of some all the way up until the early 1900s. In chapter 12 of his exciting book, Why the Bible is Number One, Kenny Barfield catalogs a host of ancient, and not-so-ancient, personalities who attempted to count the stars. One such Greek astronomer, Hipparchus, almost two centuries before Christ, went on record in multiple ancient sources with figures anywhere from 800 to 1,080 for the total number of stars. Barfield sites other ancient writers such as Chang Hing, who put the number around 2,500 “not including those which the sailors observe.” The idea that the there existed a fairly small number of stars conceivably countable by humans was quite a prevalent notion.
It is humorous today to compare the actual estimated number of stars to those figures garnered from the ancients. With our modern knowledge we have estimated that there are over 25 sextillion stars (25 with 21 zeros after it)! Indeed, the Bible was correct when it commented that the stars “cannot be numbered.” And, even though the promises to Abraham and David were not uttered with scientific information as their primary concern, it is true that whenever the Bible speaks on such matters, it always is scientifically accurate. What else would we expect from the “Father of lights?”


Barfield, Kenny (1997), Why the Bible is Number 1 (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock).

The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


The Essentiality of Evidence in Christianity

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Though “the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God” is mind-boggling, and though “His judgments and His ways” are “unsearchable” and “past finding out” (Romans 11:33; Deuteronomy 29:29), and even though finite man will never fully be able to wrap his mind around a holy, infinite, omnipotent, omniscient Creator, nevertheless, God has consistently dealt with mankind in rational ways providing the evidence needed for a reasonable faith. Consider, for example, how God has always ensured that enough evidence was available for honest, truth-seekers to know that He exists (cf. Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8). Paul wrote: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emp. added). Since the time of Adam and Eve, mankind has been able to clearly see how “the things that are made” testify on behalf of a powerful, invisible Creator. As the psalmist proclaimed: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth. And their words to the end of the world” (Psalm 19:1-4). The reason why “thefool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1, emp. added), is because God has always given man adequate evidence for His existence. Sadly, the foolish person dismisses the evidence.
When the prophet Samuel addressed the nation of Israel at Saul’s coronation, he did not merely deliver an emotionally based speech. He commanded them, saying, “[S]tand still, that I may reasonwith you before the Lord” (1 Samuel 12:7, emp. added). Similarly, Isaiah wrote: “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the Lord, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow’” (Isaiah 1:18, emp. added). Consider also the stark contrast between Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In hopes of getting the attention of the bogus god Baal, these emotionally charged, pretend prophets “leaped about the altar,” “cried aloud,” and “cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them” (1 Kings 18:26,28)—all for naught. Elijah, on the other hand, had a rational faith that was grounded in the Word of God. He said to God, “I have done all these things at Your Word” (1 Kings 18:36, emp. added). His personal faith, as well as the message of faith that He preached, were rooted and grounded in the Heavenly revealed, rational Word of Almighty God. Biblical faith, after all, “comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
This same kind of rational, evidence-based faith and preaching can be found in the New Testament. Consider the actions and teachings of Jesus. He could have merely announced to the world that He was the Messiah. He could have only told people that He was the Son of God. He could have expected everyone simply to believe His claims that He was Heaven-sent, and never given His contemporaries any proof for His deity. However, even though there were occasions when Jesus chose not to offer additional proof of His deity (because of the hard-heartedness of many of His hearers; e.g., Mark 8:11-12), Jesus understood the essentiality of evidence. During His earthly ministry, He repeatedly gave ample proof of His deity. He noted how John the Baptizer bore witness on His behalf (John 5:33). He said, “[T]he Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me” (John 5:36, emp. added; cf. John 1:32-33; Matthew 3:16-17). He spoke of how “the Scriptures…testify of Me” (John 5:39, emp. added), and specifically noted how “Moses…wrote about Me” (John 5:46, emp. added). He also noted how His miraculous works bore witness to His deity (John 5:36). Jesus performed many miracles that demonstrated His power over nature, disease, demons, and death. He understood that His own verbal testimony alone would not convince anyone in a court of law (John 5:31; cf. Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). Thus, at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem He told the unbelieving Jews, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him” (John 10:37-38, emp. added). Sadly, His foolish, stubborn enemies repeatedly rejected the irrefutable evidence that Jesus presented on His behalf.
Perhaps the greatest evidence that Jesus presented for His divinity was His miraculous resurrection. He could have risen from the dead and never appeared to anyone on Earth. He could have departed from the tomb and allowed speculation to run wild. Christianity could have begun on the back of uncertainty and mysticism. Instead, Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God…by the resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4). He appeared alive to Mary Magdalene, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, to the apostles, to James, and to over 500 disciples at once, most of whom were still living and could be questioned several years later when Paul, who also witnessed the risen Savior, wrote 1 Corinthians (15:5-8). Jesus “presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3, emp. added), because He is the Head of a reasonable religion. The excitement, energy, and courage that early disciples manifested was grounded in the rock-solid proofs of Jesus’ resurrection (among other things, e.g., fulfilled prophecies). The emotional, energetic, evangelistic faith of 21st-century Christians must likewise be rooted firm and deep in evidence.
Jesus was not the only New Testament figure who demonstrated the necessity of a knowledge-based faith. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John packed their gospel accounts with confirmation of Jesus being the Christ. Consider just the beginnings of these four books. Matthew began his account of the Gospel by genealogically proving that Jesus was the promised seed of Abraham and David (Matthew 1:1-17). He then noted how Jesus was born of a virgin, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:18-25). Mark began “the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) by quoting Malachi 3:1 and Isaiah 40:3. Mark proved propheticallythat John the Baptizer was “the voice of the one crying in the wilderness,” and Jesus was “the LORD” (1:3). Luke also opened his account of the Good News with an appeal to evidence, knowledge, and understanding.
Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed (1:1-4).
Then there is John’s gospel account, which, from beginning to end, is packed with proof that Jesus is the miracle-working Son of God (1:3: 2:1-11; 20:30-31; 21:25). In fact, the stated purpose of his record of the various miracles of Christ (and there were many others John did not mention) was so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name” (20:30-31). If biblical faith is merely “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof,” which is one definition Merriam-Webster (on-line) gives for the word “faith” (2011), then why did John and the synoptic writers spend so much time offering proof for Who Jesus is? Answer: Because the truthful, reasonable facts of God, His Word, and His Son are the foundation of real faith (John 8:31-32; 17:17; Romans 10:17).
When the apostle Paul stood before Festus and King Agrippa, he spoke of those things “which the prophets and Moses said would come—that the Christ would suffer that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23-24). However, as Paul “made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, ‘Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!’” (26:24). How did Paul respond? Did he answer with a mere emotional appeal? Did he welcome the idea of an unreasonable, unverifiable Gospel? Not at all. Paul humbly, but confidently, replied: “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason” (Acts 26:25).


Sadly, most accountable people in the world will never accept the mountain of evidence for Christianity and become Christians (Matthew 7:13-14). But, those of us who choose to put our faith in God, Jesus, and His Word, can do so because “the truth” can be known (John 8:32), rightly obeyed (Romans 6:17; 10:12-13), and logically defended (1 Peter 3:15).

Fighting the Crowd Over a Young Earth by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Fighting the Crowd Over a Young Earth

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

It is difficult indeed to find any common ground between evolutionists and creationists. In fact, the two groups disagree on just about every subject in the Universe. But there is one area where they see eye to eye: the age of the Earth. Now, of course, they do not agree about how old the Earth is, but they do agree that if it has an age measured in thousands of years rather than billions, then evolution never could have occurred.
Therefore, evolutionists use every means at their disposal to “prove” that the Earth is very, very old. In Darwin’s day, the age of the Earth was around 20 million years. It is interesting to note, however, that from a scientific viewpoint, the age of the Earth has effectively doubled approximately every 15-20 years—so that planet Earth should be celebrating approximately 5 billion years of existence (or 250 times as old as it was thought to be during Darwin’s day).


Even though most science textbooks and journals teach that the Earth is billions of years old, many scientific findings do not agree. In fact, there are over a hundred different scientific methods for calculating the age of the Earth, and roughly 70 of those render an age of the Earth measured in thousands of years, not billions.
One of the strongest scientific arguments for a young Earth comes from the field of human population statistics. According to the records that are available, the human population on Earth doubles approximately every 35 years. If you break down that figure, it represents an annual increase of 20,000 people per every million (Morris, 1996, pp. 317-320). Let’s suppose that humankind started with just two individuals (we will call them Adam and Eve, for the sake of argument). And suppose that they lived on the Earth 1 million years ago (some evolutionists suggest that man, in one form or another, has been on the Earth 3-5 million years, but we will use the more conservative figure of 1 million). Suppose, further, that an average generation was 42 years, and that each family had an average of 2.4 children (they probably had many more than that but again, we will use conservative estimates). Allowing for wars, epidemic diseases, etc., there would be approximately 1 x 105000people on the Earth today! That number is a 1 followed by 5,000 zeroes. But the entire Universe (at an estimated size of 20 billion light-years in diameter) would hold only 1 x 10100 people.
On the other hand, if one set the age of the Earth at about 6,000 years, the current world population would be approximately 4.34 billion people. Evolutionary figures thus would imply an Earth population 104900 times greater than would fit into the entire Universe! The question is: which of the two figures is right on target, and which could not possibly be correct? Allowing for an Earth measured in billions of years compromises both the biblical text and the scientific evidence. It is a young Earth after all.


Morris, Henry M. and John D. Morris (1996), The Modern Creation Trilogy—Volume 2: Science & Creation (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

Politics and Apologetics Press by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Politics and Apologetics Press

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

For over 27 years, Apologetics Press has endeavored to defend the Christian Faith against the challenges of evolutionists, atheists, agnostics, humanists, and skeptics. We remain committed to demonstrating the accuracy of the Bible and the truth of the Christian religion. We continue to challenge the false claims of scientists in their rejection of the biblical account of Creation. Apologetics Press is not a political organization and has no interest in becoming one. However, in Satan’s perennial ploy to disguise evil and subvert people through deceit and calumny, he has managed to politicize moral and spiritual issues. More than ever before in American history, fundamental moral/religious issues have been hijacked by the politicians—forcing Christians to grapple with the dissonance created by loyalty to political party on the one hand, and loyalty to God on the other. The old adage—“politics and religion don’t mix”—has become a nonsensical concept as Christians increasingly are being forced to face up to their responsibility to react to the political forces that have encroached on Christian morality. Specifically, the two premiere moral issues that have been politicized are (1) homosexuality and the definition of marriage, and (2) the treatment of the unborn via abortion and embryonic stem-cell research. Christians must face the fact that, on these two issues alone, the very survival of America is at stake (see Miller, 2005; Miller, 2006). On these two crucial matters, Apologetics Press must, and will, continue to speak out.


Assessing the November, 2006 elections from a spiritual/religious perspective cannot help but bring some alarm and sadness. True, seven more states (bringing the total to 26) passed state constitutional amendments that define marriage as a man and a woman (Colorado, Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin). Sadly, Arizona voters (by a narrow margin—51.4% to 48.6%) failed to pass a marriage protection amendment (“Marriage Protection...,” 2006). With elation, Victory, the nation’s largest LGBT [Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender—DM] political action committee reported: “In 15 years, Victory has helped the number of openly LGBTofficials grow from 49 to more than 350. Roughly 22% of all Americans are represented by an openlyLGBT elected official” (“Gay Candidates...,” 2006).
One bright spot: When Dr. Frank Kauffman, assistant professor of social work at Missouri State University, demanded that his class sign a letter affirming that homosexuals make healthy foster parents, student Emily Brooker refused. Pronounced in violation of the social workers’ code of ethics, she sued the school for violating its own policies regarding freedom of speech and expression on campus. Surprisingly, the case was settled when Brooker was offered a generous settlement (which included free school tuition and living expenses), and professor Kauffman was removed from the classroom (“Missouri State Settles...,” 2006).Nevertheless, the war over human sexuality remains at a high pitch.


Those who are making war on the unborn scored unfortunate victories in the recent election (“Bad Night...,” 2006). By a narrow margin, Missourians authorized the legalized killing of human embryos for their stem cells. In South Dakota, the dignity of the unborn was dashed when citizens failed to uphold a ban against abortion. In both California and Oregon, teenage girls were given the “right” to have abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent. Even now, the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether to uphold the ban on the unbelievably barbaric procedure of partial-birth abortion.
These events are tragic circumstances for a nation that once openly avowed attachment to God and Christian virtue. The downward spiral into moral depravity stands in such stark contrast to the origins of America. The Founders would be horrified. After serving two terms as vice-president alongside President George Washington, on October 11, 1798, the second president of these United States, John Adams, delivered a speech to military officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts: “[W]e have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion.... Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (1854, 9:229). When Christian religion and morality no longer characterize the people and are therefore excluded from the political process, we can fully expect the nation, in time, to collapse.
While the ultimate solution to our nation’s woes is recommitment to God and the moral precepts of the Bible, one immediate strategy ought to be that Christians do more to control the political forces that are running amok. In the words of President James A. Garfield:
Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If that body be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.... [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation...it will be becausethose who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces (as quoted in Taylor, 1970, p. 180, emp. added).
On Friday, June 20, 1788, in the Virginia convention assembled to debate ratification of the federalConstitution, James Madison reminded his colleagues of the only ultimate safeguard for national preservation:
But I go on this great republican principle, that the people will have virtue and intelligence to select men of virtue and wisdom. Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks, no form of government, can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea. If there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men; so that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them (Elliot, 1836, 3:536-537, emp. added).
Judging by the recent nationwide elections, the virtue, intelligence, and wisdom of a sizable number of Americans has been called into question.


Adams, John (1854), The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States, ed. Charles Adams (Boston, MA: Little, Brown, and Company).
“Bad Night for Parents and Unborn Children” (2006), Traditional Values Coalition, November 9, [On-line], URL: http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=2928.
Elliot, Jonathan, ed. (1836), The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution (Washington, D.C.: Jonathan Elliot), [On-line], URL: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=lled&fileName=003/ lled003.db&recNum=547&itemLink=r%3Fammem%2Fhlaw%3A@field% 28DOCID%2B@lit%28ed0032%29%29%230030003&linkText=1.
“Gay Candidates Win in Record Numbers Across U.S.” (2006), Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, November 8, [On-line], URL: http://www.victoryfund.org/index.php?src=news&prid=183& category=News%20Releases.
“Marriage Protection Amendments Win In 7 of 8 States” (2006), Traditional Values Coalition, November 9, [On-line], URL: http://www.traditionalvalues.org/modules.php?sid=2929.
Miller, Dave (2005), “Is America’s Iniquity Full?” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/305.
Miller, Dave (2006), “Destruction of Marriage Equals Destruction of America,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3105.
“Missouri State Settles Lawsuit with Emily Brooker” (2006), Missouri State University Office of University Communications, November 8, [On-line], URL:http://www.news.missouristate.edu/releases/27833.htm.
Taylor, John (1970), Garfield of Ohio: The Available Man (New York: W.W. Norton).

How Long Was the Israelites’ Egyptian Bondage? by Kyle Butt, M.Div. Alden Bass Bert Thompson, Ph.D.


How Long Was the Israelites’ Egyptian Bondage?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.
Alden Bass
Bert Thompson, Ph.D.

[1] In Galatians 3:17, the apostle Paul stated that the Law of Moses (which was given shortly after the Israelites’ exit from Egypt) came 430 years after God had made His covenant with Abraham. However, Moses stated in Exodus 12:40-41 that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt 430 years. How can both passages be correct when it seems clear from a straightforward reading of biblical chronology that a minimum of 215 years passed between the time God made His covenant with Abraham and the time the Israelites (through Jacob) entered Egypt—thus making it appear that the Israelites had to have been in Egypt 645 years (215 + 430)?
[2] Additionally, information in 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20 allows for a maximum time period of 352 years. How, then, can it be stated that the Israelites were in Egypt 430 years?
[3] Furthermore, in Genesis 15:13 Moses explained that the Israelites would be “sojourners in a land that is not theirs” for “400years,” and Stephen used the same figure in his speech in Acts 7:6 when he said that the Israelites would be brought “into bondage” and treated evil “for 400 years.” What is the truth of the matter? How, exactly, do all these passages fit together? How many years were the children of Israel in Egypt?
The Exodus of the Hebrews from the hands of their cruel Egyptian taskmasters is one of the most triumphant stories in Old Testament history. This event was the beginning of Israel’s rise to power, and proved to the then-known world that the living God had chosen the descendants of Abraham as the people through whom He would bring the Messiah. The Exodus and its aftermath were so monumental, in fact, that it virtually overshadowed the history of the previous centuries.
But the exact length of the Israelites’ “sojourn” has been in the past, and remains today, a matter of some controversy. Certain biblical passages (e.g., Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6) seem to indicate a length of 400 years for the time period under consideration. Elsewhere (e.g., Exodus 12:40-41) the length of time appears to be 430 years. Still other information (e.g., 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20) places an upper limit of approximately 350 years on the time frame involved. In an article written more than thirty years ago (“The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage”), chronologist Harold W. Hoehner observed: “When one looks at the various passages of Scripture concerning the length of Israel’s bondage in Egypt, one immediately discovers that there are apparent disagreements in the biblical record” (1969, 126:306). In his discussion on Exodus 12:40-41, renowned commentator Adam Clarke noted: “The statement in this verse is allowed on all hands to be extremely difficult, and therefore the passage stands in especial need of illustration” (n.d., p. 358). Albert Barnes took the same position in regard to Acts 7:6 when he wrote in his commentary on that book: “Great perplexity has been experienced in explaining this passage, or reconciling it with other statements” (1949a, p. 121). Those “other statements” to which Barnes referred are the passages mentioned in the above questions. Can the “apparent disagreements” between these passages be resolved?
Yes, they can. However, some background information on each of these passages is required in order to understand the problems posed by the three questions above—and the solutions that we plan to propose.
First, we need to address the suggestion that there was a minimum of 215 years between God’s promise to Abraham and the entrance of the Israelites (through Jacob) into Egypt. Such a suggestion is correct. Various writers (e.g.: Barnes, 1949b, p. 343; Duncan, n.d., p. 4; Hoehner, 1969, 126:308-309; Mauro, n.d., pp. 26-27) have explained how the 215-year figure can be obtained quite readily from Scripture. By way of summary, the information appears as follows:
Later in this discussion, we will return to the problem of the alleged 430 years of Egyptian bondage supposedly having to be added to that 215-year period. But for the present, we would like to examine the problem of the limitation placed on the Egyptian sojourn by information found in such passages as 1 Chronicles 6:1, 1 Chronicles 23:6-13, and Exodus 6:16-20. Again, by way of summary, the information gleaned from these texts is as follows:
  1. The text in Genesis 46:11 indicates that Kohath, the son of Levi and grandfather of Moses, apparently was born prior to Jacob moving to Egypt with his sons (Genesis 46:11). If he had just been born at the time, and if he sired his son Amram the last day of his life, then Amram could have been born no later than 134 years after the entrance into Egypt (rounding a 9-month pregnancy upward to a full year) because Kohath lived only 133 years (Exodus 6:18).
  2. Amram (the father of Moses) lived 137 years (Exodus 6:20). If he had sired Moses the last day of his life, then Moses would have been born no more than 272 years after Jacob and his sons entered Egypt (133 +1 + 137 + 1 = 272).
  3. Moses was 80 years old when Israel came out of Egypt (Exodus 7:7).
  4. Add that 80 to the 272, and the total is a maximum of 352 years. As Barnes noted: “From the account which Moses has given of the lives of certain persons, it would seem clear that...the whole time thus mentioned, including the time in which the father lived after his son, was only three hundred and fifty years” (1949a, p. 121, emp. in orig.). Thus the suggestion that these passages “allow for a maximum time period of 352 years” also is correct.
  5. Additional information that delimits the number of years of the sojourn can be derived from a source completely independent of Kohath—Moses’ mother, Jochebed. The Bible mentions her twice, the first instance being Exodus 6:20: “And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife; and she bare him Aaron and Moses: and the years of the life of Amram were a hundred and thirty and seven years.” Jochebed is named a second time in Numbers 26:59: “And the name of Amram’s wife was Jochebed, the daughter of Levi, who was born to Levi in Egypt: and she bare unto Amram Aaron and Moses, and Miriam their sister.”
Clearly, Jochebed (who was born in Egypt) was the daughter of Levi, the sister of Kohath. With this information before us, let’s “crunch the numbers.” Eleven of Jacob’s sons were born within a seven-year period. Remember that as a bachelor, Jacob worked seven years for Laban in order to “pay” for Rachel, but was tricked by Laban into marrying Leah. Then, he worked for seven more years in order to marry Rachel. At the end of this second seven years, he asked to depart from Laban with all of the children who had been born to him and his wives (Genesis 30:25). With Levi being the third son of Jacob/Leah (allowing approximately one year for the births of Reuben, Simeon, and Levi), he could have been only about four years older than Joseph, who was born near the end of the seven-year period. As Joseph was 39 when Jacob came into Egypt (he was 30 when he appeared before Pharaoh [Genesis 41:46], plus seven years of plenty, plus one more year before the famine was realized), Levi could not have been more than 44 or 45 when he came into Egypt. Levi lived in Egypt for 93 years (age at his death was 137 [Exodus 6:16], minus 44 [his age when he went into Egypt], which equals 93). If Levi had conceived Jochebed on the very last day of his life, then Jochebed would have had to given birth to Moses when she was 257 years old in order to get a period of 430 years for the sojourn in Egypt (93 years that Levi lived in Egypt, plus Moses’ 80 years (Exodus 7:7) when he arrived to deliver the children of Israel—93+80+257=430). Recalling the fact that Sarah was only 90 when the miraculous birth of Isaac occurred, it makes little sense to suggest that Jochebed gave birth to Moses when she was almost three times as old as Sarah! Furthermore, we know that life spans were far shorter than 257 by this time, and that the 430-year sojourn does not (and cannot) fit with the genealogies—either through Kohath or through Jochebed.
Where, then, do the figures of 430 years and 400 years fit into all of this? Were the Israelites in Egypt 645 years? Or 430 years? Or 400 years? Or 215 years?
As we attempt to provide the answers to such questions, let us point out that no one has stepped forward to suggest that the Israelites were in Egypt for 645 years. Such a view is indefensible in light of the biblical evidence, including (but not necessarily limited to) the scripturally imposed time limit mentioned above of 352 years. There are, however, two major viewpoints regarding the specific length of Israel’s sojourn. The first suggests that the Israelites actually lived in Egypt for 430 years. This view has been adopted by Archer (1994, pp. 205-212), Keil and Delitzsch (1974, 2:29), Kitchen (1966, pp. 53-56), and Unger (1954, pp. 106,150), among others. Yet, as David Rohl observed in his book, Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest:
In most commentaries or popular books on the Old Testament you will read that the Israelite Sojourn in the land of Egypt lasted four hundred and thirty years. However, this figure is by no means certain. In fact, there is clear evidence that the period of the Sojourn was no more than two hundred fifteen years (1995, p. 329).
Dr. Rohl is correct on both counts. The idea which suggests that the Israelites spent 430 years in Egypt is presented in “most commentaries or popular books on the Old Testament.” Nevertheless, there is “clear evidence” that the Israelites were in Egypt for only 215 years, not 430. [We will deal with the matter of the “400 years” of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 at a later point in this article, since it turns out to be a separate issue altogether.] This, then, is the second major view regarding the length of the sojourn, and has been adopted by such scholars as Barnes (n.d., p. 121), Clarke (n.d., 1:358), Henry (n.d., 1:322), Mauro (n.d., pp. 31-32), Rohl (1995, pp. 329-332), and Thiele (1963, pp. 166-167), among others. But why—in light of what appear to be clear statements of Scripture that assign a period of 430 years to the sojourn—do such writers suggest that the sojourn actually was half of that? An explanation is in order.
There is only one passage in the Old Testament that suggests a sojourn of 430 years—Exodus 12:40-41:
Now the time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. And it came to pass at the end of four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of Jehovah went out from the land of Egypt.
Those who suggest that the sojourn lasted only 215 years believe—because numerous facts seem to demand it—that the time period of “the sojourning of the children of Israel” begins with the call of Abraham and God’s promise to him (Genesis 12:1-3),and ends with the Exodus. In other words, the fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) sojourned in Canaan for 215 years, and their descendants lived in Egyptian bondage for an additional 215 years. The total, then, is the 430-year figure of Exodus 12:40-41 (and Galatians 3:17). In his commentary on Acts, Albert Barnes put it this way: “The question then is, how can these accounts be reconciled? The only satisfactory way is by supposing that the four hundred and thirty years includes the whole time from the calling of Abraham to the departure from Egypt”(1949a, p. 121, emp. added). In addressing the text of Acts 7:6 in his commentary on that inspired book, H. Leo Boles remarked: “Paul says that the law came four hundred thirty years after the promise (Gal. 3:17); so that the four hundred years of Ex. 12:40 probably included the patriarchs’ residence in Canaan(Genesis 15:13,14; Exodus 3:12)” [1941, p. 104, emp. added]. In his commentary on Galatians, Barnes wrote: “The exact time here referred to was probably when Abraham was called, and when the promise was first made to him. Assuming that as the time referred to, it is not difficult to make out the period of four hundred and thirty years” (1949b, p. 343).
But why is it “not difficult”? And what do we mean by our statement that some scholars believe the sojourn lasted only 215 years because “numerous facts” seem to demand it? What are those “numerous facts”? How can the 215-year figure be defended?
First, it must be admitted forthrightly, in light of the information given above, that there is a maximum of 352 years available for the sojourn in Egypt, whatever that sojourn might encompass. There simply is no way around that fact.
Second, Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, reviewed the time element associated with the covenant between God and Abraham (given in Genesis 15) when he wrote:
Now to Abraham were the promises spoken, and to his seed. He saith not, “And to seeds,” as of many; but as of one, “And to thy seed,” which is Christ. Now this I say: A covenant confirmed beforehand by God, the law—which came four hundred and thirty years after—doth not disannul, so as to make the promise of none effect (3:16-17).
In discussing Paul’s observation, Philip Mauro wrote: “Here we see that the 430 years began with God’s promise to Abram, made at the time he entered into Canaan at the age of 75 (Gen. 12:1-4) and ended with the giving of the law, which was the same year as the Exodus” (n.d., p. 27). As we have shown above, it can be documented quite easily from Scripture that the time from Abraham’s call to Jacob’s entrance into Egypt was 215 years. Rohl therefore concluded:
Various passages in the book of Genesis have led scholars to determine that the period from Abraham’s descent to Jacob’s arrival in the Land of Goshen was two hundred and fifteen years and so the Sojourn in Egypt (from Jacob’s arrival to the Exodus) lasted around the same length of time—in other words, circa two hundred and fifteen years (1995, p. 331, parenthetical item in orig.).
If the time period between Abraham’s call and the giving of the law (which occurred roughly three months after the Exodus) was 430 years (and Paul specifically remarked that it was), and if 215 of those years had passed before the Israelites went into Egypt (the time period from Abraham’s call to Jacob’s entrance into the land of the Nile), then that would leave only 215 years remaining for the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt—which is exactly the time frame we believe the evidence supports.
Third, in Genesis 15:16 it was prophesied that the Israelites would return to Palestine during the lifetime of the “fourth generation”—which they did, according to Exodus 6:16-20, Numbers 3:17-19, Numbers 26:57-59, 1 Chronicles 6:1-3, and 1 Chronicles 23:6,12-13 (Jacob-Levi-Kohath-Amram-Moses). As Hoehner (who does not even agree with the 215-year view) admitted: “To fit four generations into a 215-year period is much more reasonable than a 430- year span” (1969, 126:309; see also Duncan, n.d.).
Fourth, secular research likewise has concluded that the Israelites remained in the land of the pharaohs for 215 years. David Rohl, a respected Egyptologist, is convinced that this is the proper interpretation of the facts. In his book, Pharaohs and Kings, he undertook the challenge of reassessing the century-old Egyptian chronology so that it could accommodate more accurately several new archaeological discoveries. According to his research, Israel went down into Egypt c. 1662 B.C., and was delivered by God through Moses c. 1447 B.C.—a span of 215 years (1995, pp. 329-332).
Fifth, there are other important historical and/or textual considerations that need to be investigated in this matter. For example, inAntiquities of the Jews, Josephus wrote that the Israelites “left Egypt in the month of Xanthicus, on the fifteenth day of the lunar month; four hundred and thirty years after our forefather Abraham came into Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years only after Jacob removed into Egypt” (II. 15.2). Rohl observed in this regard:
Now, according to the statements of Josephus himself, he had access to very old documents formerly housed in the Temple of Jerusalem from which to draw his account of early Israelite history. Josephus lived in the first century A.D. and so his writings are dated hundreds of years before the Masoretic text of the Tanakh (Hebrew Old Testament) was completed in the fourth century A.D. If his source documents were genuine, then the information he gives for the duration of the Sojourn derives from a much earlier period than that employed by the Masoretes when they made their version of the history of Israel and a further several centuries before the earliest extant copy of the Masoretic text (1995, p. 331).
In the Masoretic text of the Old Testament (to which Rohl referred, and on which the biblical quotations given above have been based), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “The time that the children of Israel dwelt in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.” Two other highly reliable biblical texts, however, strongly suggest that this translation is incorrect due to a critical omission. In both the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), Exodus 12:40 reads as follows: “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years” (see Clarke, n.d., pp. 358-359, emp. in orig.). William Whiston, who translated the works of Flavius Josephus into English, included a footnote at the bottom of the page accompanying Josephus’ comment (quoted above in regard to the Israelites’ 215-year stay in Egypt). Whiston wrote:
Why our Masorete copy so groundlessly abridges this account in Exod. xii,40 as to ascribe 430 years to the sole peregrination [travel by foot—AB/BT/KB] of the Israelites in Egypt when it is clear even by that Masorete chronology elsewhere, as well as from the express text itself, in the Samaritan, Septuagint, and Josephus, that they sojourned in Egypt but half that time—and that by consequence the other half of their peregrination was in the land of Canaan, before they came into Egypt—is hard to say (1974, 2:171).
Rohl suggested, however, that it really is not hard to say. In fact, he said:
It is fairly easy to see what happened in the interval between Josephus’ day and that of the Masoretes. During the process of copying down the original scrolls over the intervening centuries, a section of text something on the lines of “and in the land of Canaan” had fallen out (or had been edited out). This is confirmed by the Greek rendition of the Old Testament (the Septuagint or LXX) which retains the original, full version of the passage (1995, p. 331).
In his commentary on the Pentateuch, Adam Clarke discussed this at length:
...the Samaritan Pentateuch, by preserving the two passages, they and their fathers and in the land of Canaan, which are lost out of the present copies of the Hebrew text, has rescued this passage from all obscurity and contradiction. It may be necessary to observe that the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint has the same reading as that in the Samaritan. The Samaritan Pentateuch is allowed by many learned men to exhibit the most correct copy of the five books of Moses; and the Alexandrian copy of the Septuagint must also be allowed to be one of the most authentic as well as most ancient copies of this version which we possess (n.d., pp. 358-359, emp. in orig.).
Rohl wrote in agreement:
The Septuagint was first written down in the time of Ptolemy I during the third century B.C. and the earliest surviving manuscript is again much older than the earliest surviving Masoretic copy. The Samaritan version of the first five books of the Old Testament (the Pentateuch) is also considerably more ancient than the Masoretic scriptures and it too retains the longer rendition of the passage on the length of the Sojourn. Thus, three out of four sources for the book of Exodus state that the four-hundred-and-thirty-year interval represents the whole period from Abraham’s descent into Canaan all the way down to the Exodus of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt (1995, p. 331).
If Josephus, the Samaritan Pentateuch, and the Septuagint are correct (and there is good evidence to indicate that they are) in stating that “the sojourning of the children of Israel and of their fathers, which they sojourned in the land of Canaan AND in the land of Egypt was 430 years,” then the alleged contradiction between Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17 evaporates into thin air, and the 215-year figure for the Israelites’ sojourn in Egypt can be accepted quite easily as both credible and scriptural.
But where do the “400 years” of Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6 fit into this scheme? As God spoke to Abraham in Genesis 15 while the patriarch was dwelling among the terebinth trees at Hebron, the Lord said: “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” Here, God was permitting His faithful servant—through words spoken approximately two centuries prior to Israel’s entrance into Egypt—to peek into the future of his descendants. Add to that the words of Stephen (in Acts 7:6) when he said, looking back on Israel’s history: “And God spake on this wise, that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should bring them into bondage, and treat them ill, four hundred years.” What is the meaning of these particular passages?
Some writers (e.g., Barnes, 1949a, p. 121; Boles, 1941, p. 104) have suggested that the 400- year figure represents merely a “rounding off” of the 430-year figure given in Genesis 15:13. But we think there is a much better explanation, and suggest that there is a fundamental distinction between the 430-year figure and the 400-year figure.
Notice that in Stephen’s speech he specifically stated that Abraham’s “seed should sojourn in a strange land.” In his book, The Wonders of Bible Chronology, Philip Mauro wrote:
But, in addition to this period of 430 years, there is another of 400 years, which also ended at the Exodus.... The period of 430 years includes the sojourn of Abram and Sarah. That of 400, however, begins with the experience of Abraham’s “seed.” This refers, of course, to Isaac in the first place; for in Isaac the promised “seed” was to be “ called”; but the era is not that of the birth of Isaac, but that when he was acknowledged the “seed” and the “heir” by the casting out of Hagar and Ishmael. That took place at the time of the “great feast” which Abraham made the day Isaac was weaned (Gen. 21:8-10). This is an important event in the annals of God’s people, because of its deep spiritual significance, as appears by the reference to it in Galatians 4:29,30.
From the foregoing Scriptures we are able to arrive at the date when Isaac was weaned and Ishmael was cast out (whereby Isaac became the acknowledged “seed” and “heir”). For there is a difference of thirty years between the two periods. But we have already found that there were twenty-five years from the call of Abraham (and God’s “ covenant” with him) to the birth of Isaac. Hence, deducting 25 from 30 gives us 5 years as the age of Isaac when Ishmael was cast out. There is no need to give at greater length the proofs concerning the 400-year period (n.d., pp. 27, 28, emp. in orig.).
As Hoehner wrote: “In conclusion, the 430 years went from Abraham’s call to the Exodus. The first 215 years was their sojourn in Palestine and the last 215 years in Egypt. The 400 years was from the weaning of Isaac to the time of the Exodus” (1969, 126:309). Our point exactly!
Some may ask, though, how the 215-year figure for the Israelites’ time in Egypt can be squared with statements such as those in Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6, which seem to indicate that the Hebrews would be “sojourners in a strange land that is not theirs” where their enemies would “bring them into bondage” and “treat them ill”? In his commentary on Galatians, David Lipscomb addressed this point.
The law was given by Moses four hundred and thirty years after this promise was made to Abraham (Ex. 12:40). Many interpret this to mean that they sojourned in Egypt four hundred and thirty years. But they dwelt in tents and had no permanent habitation during their sojourn in Canaan and Egypt and in the wilderness from the call in Ur until the entrance into Canaan after the Egyptian bondage (n.d., p. 231, emp. added).
Or, as Mauro stated: “This period of ‘sojourning’ of the people of God is reckoned from Abraham’s entrance into Canaan, for then they (Abram and Sarah, the beginnings of the family) became strangers and pilgrims (Heb. 11:8-13)” [n.d., p. 27, parenthetical item in orig.]. In Exodus 6:4, Canaan is referred to as “the land in which they dwelt as sojourners.” While it certainly is true that they were slaves in Egypt for a considerable period of time (215 years), their oppression actually began much earlier, and lasted much longer, than just those 215 years. In fact, it would be accurate to say that the oppression began as early as Ishmael, who was half Egyptian and who mocked Isaac, the son of promise (Genesis 21:9). In Galatians 4:29, Paul discussed Ishmael’s ill treatment of Isaac when he penned these words: “He that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit.” That “persecution” obviously continued, as is evident from the fact that Egyptians felt it was a great abomination to eat with Hebrews (Genesis 43:32)—even until the time that Joseph came to power in their country. Later, of course, the persecution culminated in the attempted destruction by Pharaoh of the Hebrew male babies during Moses’ infancy (Exodus 1:15-22). Thus, the “sojourning” and “ill treatment” did not occur only during Egyptian captivity, but actually had commenced much earlier.
Critics of the 215-year view, however, have suggested that the second 215-year period (i.e., the time spent in Egypt) would not allow for the population explosion that obviously occurred while the Hebrews were captives. Less than 100 went down into Egypt, and yet by the time they left, they numbered more than 2 million (based on the figures in Numbers 1:46; cf. Archer, 1982, pp. 378-379). However, C.G. Ozanne, in his volume, The First 7,000 Years, has shed some light on this criticism.
Of course, the standard objection to this interpretation is the census totals of male Levites in Numbers 3. In this chapter the total number of Kohath’s male descendants “from a month old and upward” is given as 8600 (v. 28), these being divided between his four sons, Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel. Assuming that the total number is to be divided evenly between the four sons, Amram must have had some 2150 male descendants within a few months of the Exodus. At first sight this figure may seem well-nigh impossible. When, however, it is broken down, it begins to assume more reasonable proportions. Thus, supposing that Amram was born fifty-five years after the descent into Egypt and that forty years constitute a generation, it is only necessary to allocate seven males to a family to arrive at a figure considerably in excess of the desired 2150. On this reckoning Moses would have had 7 brothers (for he himself may be ignored for the purposes of this calculation), 49 nephews, 343 great-nephews and 2401 great-great-nephews within the allotted span. A total of 2800 is thus obtained, of which the vast majority would still have been alive to see the exodus from Egypt. Bearing in mind the greatly extended period of childbearing (Jochebed was about 70 at the birth of Moses), the practice of polygamy (which enabled Jacob to have eleven sons in seven years), and above all the astonishing fertility of the Israelite women on which the Bible lays special emphasis (cf. Gen. 46.3; Exod. 1.7,12,19; Deut. 26.5), the rate of increase here suggested should not necessarily be thought incredible (1970, pp. 22-23).
Thus, when all of the biblical information is considered, it is apparent that there is no contradiction between Exodus 12:40-41 and Galatians 3:17. Nor is there any problem in regard to Genesis 15:13 and Acts 7:6. As the late Bobby Duncan said when he ended his study of these matters, “Isn’t it amazing how the Bible clarifies the Bible?” (n.d., p. 4). Amazing indeed!
Archer, Gleason (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Archer, Gleason L. (1994), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Barnes, Albert (1949a reprint), Barnes’ Notes—Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Barnes, Albert (1949b reprint), Barnes’ Notes—II Corinthians and Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Boles, H. Leo (1941), Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary on the Old Testament—Volume I: Genesis to Deuteronomy (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Duncan, Bobby (no date), “The God of the Fourth Generation” (Adamsville, AL: Adamsville Church of Christ).
Henry, Matthew (no date), Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible—Volume I: Genesis to Deuteronomy (McLean, VA: MacDonald).
Hoehner, Harold W. (1969), “The Duration of the Egyptian Bondage,” Bibliotheca Sacra, 126:306-316, October.
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1974 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament—The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Kitchen, Kenneth A. (1966), Ancient Orient and Old Testament (London: Tyndale).
Lipscomb, David (no date), Commentary on Second Corinthians and Galatians (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Mauro, Philip (no date), The Wonders of Bible Chronology (Swengel, PA: Reiner).
Ozanne, C.G. (1970), The First 7,000 Years (New York: Exposition Press).
Rohl, David M. (1995), Pharaohs and Kings: A Biblical Quest (New York: Crown).
Thiele, Edwin (1963), “Chronology, Old Testament,” Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, ed. Merrill C. Tenney (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Unger, Merrill (1954), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Whiston, William, trans. (1974 reprint), The Complete Works of Flavius Josephus (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).