I know this seems like an old question but here's the contradiction I'm struggling with:

400 years

"Then the LORD said to Abram, "Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not their own; they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years."- Genesis 15:13

"And God spoke to this effect—that his offspring would be sojourners in a land belonging to others, who would enslave them and afflict them 400 years."- Acts 7:6

"In the fourth generation your descendants will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete."- Genesis 15:16

*As a side note, could anyone explain how fourth generation links to 400 years? Thanks.

430 years

"What I mean is this: The Law that came 430 years later does not revoke the covenant previously established by God, so as to cancel the promise."- Galatians 3:17

"Now the duration of the Israelites' stay in Egypt was 430 years."- Exodus 12:40

  • In the Greek Septuagint, which was heavily employed by New Testament writers, the text of Exodus 12:40 explicitly reads in Egypt and Canaan. The Samaritan Pentateuch also supports this reading. Though the Hebrew Masoretic text does not technically contain that written clarification, the accompanying Jewish oral tradition nevertheless interprets it as such. See also the answers to this question.
    – Lucian
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 4:27
  • "enslaved and mistreated for 40 years". I wonder what this enslavement and mistreatment entails, considering that the 430 years encompasses the time from Abraham's family living in Canaan to the Exodus. Did it refer to sin, i.e. bondage to sin? Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 6:23
  • This is a very interesting question and it references multiple passages too. Personally I'd even be fine with just Genesis and Exodus but you've gone the extra mile. (+1) and raising a bounty to draw more attention. Commented Jan 23, 2021 at 8:11
  • there was more than one exodus. And the first exodus only men were allowed to leave. Then women. Then herds
    – R. Emery
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 7:04

6 Answers 6


Abraham was 75 when he left Haran. This was The Promise, and the start of 430 years to the Exodus.

  • 25 years later, Abraham is 100 years old and Isaac is born. We are now 25 years from The Promise
  • 5 years later, Isaac is weaned. Ishmael mocks Isaac, Ishmael and Hagar are exiled. This is the start of the 400 years of being "mistreated/afflicted" and then later "enslaved". We are now 30 years from The Promise
  • 55 years later, Isaac is 60 years old when Jacob is born. Now we're 85 years from The Promise
  • 130 years later, Jacob is 130 years old and they enter Egypt. We're now 215 years from The Promise, and 215 years away from the Exodus

Concerning the 215 years in Egypt, we know that Kohath was listed with those entering Egypt (Gen. 46:8,11), and his son Amram was listed among those that left Egypt (Num. 3:14,19).

  • Kohath lived to be 133 years old
  • his son Amram lived to be 137 years old

So we now know the Israelites could be in Egypt no longer than their combined ages of 270 years. They were in Egypt 215 years.

The fourth generation prophecy refers to: Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses.

  • How does the initial 25 year period relate to the Israelites being afflicted by Egypt though? I understand how Hagar and her son could constitute Egyptian mistreatment of Israel (who really is just Jacob and his descendants) but why does the Bible uniformly describe everything in the 430 years as being related to Egypt (Exodus 12:40)? Thanks. Commented May 31, 2019 at 10:25
  • The initial 25 year period is part of the 430 year sojourn, but not part of the 400 year affliction/mistreatment and enslavement. The Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew) translates Exodus 12:40 this way: 'Now the sojourning of the children of Israel that dwelt in the land of Canaan and the land of Egypt was 430 years'. Without the Septuagint adding the word Canaan, it would be difficult to understand the chronology using Exodus 12:40 alone. People's ages need to be used to figure it out, and also in Galatians 3 Paul mentions the start and end point of the 430 yrs. Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 5:45
  • Since however there were several instances of the promise made to Abraham, one of them when he was ninety-nine years old(Genesis 17), Paul may rather have been grouping them together into one time period, rather to start the 430 years with the first(Gen 12), when Abraham was at most 75 years old.
    – user21676
    Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 14:00
  • This is a very good answer - well documented with the correct result of actually 215 years. +1
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 27, 2021 at 10:01
  • @BibleExplorer Can't find the word Canaan in the Septuagint Bible passage. Please, can you provide me with a link? Commented Sep 25, 2023 at 23:09

We know that there were 70 Israelites that went to Egypt. Joseph was appointed as Chief Advisor to Pharaoh and lord over all the land of Egypt Genesis 45:8.The Pharaoh was a good Pharaoh. I don't know how long this Pharaoh lived before the bad Pharaoh started to rule over Egypt. The Good Pharaoh could have ruled 30 more years after after the Israelites came to Egypt. If that were the case that could account for the 30 years making the amount of time the Israelites were not in Egyptian slavery. That would explain why they were in Egypt for 430.The 30 years when they were not being enslaved. The 400 years when they were enslaved by the bad Pharaoh making it 430.

  • This is the correct answer. Thank you. Welcome to the forum.
    – oldhermit
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 15:18
  • 1
    Joseph was thirty when he came before pharaoh (Gen 41:46). Seven years of plenty and maybe three years of famine before Jacob moved to Egypt puts Joseph at forty. Joseph died at 110 years of age (Gen 50:26). Exodus 1:8 tells us the new pharaoh did not know Joseph, which puts us at least seventy years in before bondage started, not thirty.
    – mathewb
    Commented Feb 11, 2022 at 3:12
  • 1
    Childish fluff. According to the biblical genealogies, there were only three generations from [Pharez' son] Hezron to Nahshon and, more importantly, only two generations from [Levi's son] Kohath to Moses. As part of his recorded entourage, both Hezron and Kohath were mere youths when Jacob migrated to Goshen. We do not know Nahshon's age when Moses appointed him as captain over Judah, but we do know Moses' Exodus age was 80 years. So, if we grant 430 minus 80, your uninformed perspective allows that a full 350 years passed from Kohath's youth to the birth of his grandson Moses. Childish fluff. Commented Apr 10, 2022 at 2:40

I also agree that by God's statement in Genesis 15:13 that Abraham's descendants would be enslaved for 400 years mean they enjoyed their freedom in their first 30 years in Egypt, this making a combined period of 430 years. When you say the 430 years commenced from the time of God's promise (covenant) with Abraham (Abram as then), the time spent in Egypt by the Israelites may not reach 400 years, which will be inconsistent with Genesis 15:13.

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  • Please don't use answers just to agree or disagree with other answers. Once you have sufficient reputation, you will be able to vote up questions and answers that you found helpful. - From Review Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 13:57

In Egypt for 430 years, but enslavement starts slowly at 400 years. At the time of Joseph, Egyptians were selling themselves as slaves to the Pharoah for food, and suspect it might have started as a 'modest' enslavement. I suppose having all your egyptian citizens as slaves and foreign isreali free doesn't seem right. Not to cause a revolt, I suspect the Pharoahs slowly burdened and enslaved the isreali nation over that 400 year period and it became worse and worse for them. Isn't that how many kings come to power? - with the masses behind the new king, and then their children become tyrants or incompetent. This chronology puts the world around 6193 years old. If I use the 430 timeline starting at the time of the Abrahamic covenant (and a shorter time of enslaved in egypt), I calculate the age of the world around 5973 years old. I suspect some like the latter number, but I just can't get that from the text of the Bible and think the older number is more accurate.


The people of Israel were in Egypt for 397 years. This occurred after Jacob's family had lived in Canaan for 33 years. When God wrestled with Jacob and changed his name to Israel, this was the beginning of the 430 year period in which the Israelites lived in both Canaan and Egypt. And so we see that Israel was in Egypt for about 400 years as God had foretold (Genesis 15:13), and that Israel was in both Canaan and Egypt for exactly 430 years as Exodus 12:40-41 (Septuagint) tells us. When Galatians 3:17 speaks of the 430 years, Paul is using the Exodus 12:40 passage, taking us back to the time in which the covenant was established with Israel (Jacob)(Genesis 32).

  • 1
    Welcome to the site, Marc! Your answer could be strengthened by showing how you came up with the 397 figure apart from subtraction. Commented Nov 3, 2021 at 19:14

God cut the time short in righteousness because the number of years they were afflicted were not up to 400 years. Read it in KJV also.

The word used in this version in conjunction with 400 years was mistreated which KJV translated as afflicted.


  1. How old was Joseph when he died? (110 years; Gen 50:26). Minus his age before he was sold to slavery (17; Gen 37:2) from 30 years when he became prime minister of Egypt (30-17=13). This means Joseph suffered as a descendant of Abraham in Egypt for 13 years. Let's keep this figure (13 years) till the end when we shall make use of it as part of the number of years for which the descendants of Abraham were afflicted in Egypt.

So minus 30 years from 110 years = 80 years. Then Minus 2 years of famine which had happened at which point Joseph ordered his father and all his household to come over to Egypt (Gen. 45:2) from 80 years, that gives 78 years.

Therefore, for 78 years of Joseph's lifetime, Israelites enjoyed in Egypt.

Beginning of years of affliction of all Abraham's descendants in Egypt
It was after Joseph had died that Israelites' affliction by the king who did not know Joseph began.

Note also that it was not immediately after Joseph died that the affliction of Israelites began. But the Bible is silent on at what exact time after Joseph's death that king who afflicted them began to reign; and at what point of his reign he started to afflict them.

So Israelites' stay of 430 years is mentioned in Exo. 12:40 included the years of enjoyment plus the years they were afflicted.

Number of Years of their affliction
To know the number of years they were afflicted, we have to minus 78 from 430 (430-78) = 352 years. If you want to add 13 years of Joseph's suffering as a slave (13 years) to this 352 years; You have: 352 + 13 = 365 years of suffering for Israelites in Egypt.

But again, note that it was not on the dot that Joseph died that their suffering began!

God is perfect.
He cut their suffering years short in righteousness by responding to their cry and signings quickly.

In the same way, he will cut short the number of years of the present-day Israelites will suffer before salvation will appear to them because they will cry unto God. And they have started crying now at the wailing wall.

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