Monday, October 12, 2015

Biblical Chronology

Someone new has entered the pass-time of interpreting Biblical Chronology, a project called The Tetra-Scroll.

My first annoyance is that like many others she has made the mistake of using the standard Secular date for Solomon as her starting point, which has his reign begin in 970 BC, and The Temple construction starting in 966 BC, and his death about 930 BC.  And thus the Exodus in 1446 BC.

The starting point should be the Fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar when Solomon's Temple was destroyed.  Which there is a two year discrepancy for, 588-586 BC.  Though I have seen one reference to 584 BC.  It was definitely in the 580s.

Ezekiel 4:4-6 tells us that there would be 390 years from the division of the Kingdom to the fall of Jerusalem.  That puts the division of the Kingdom in the 970s BC.  The division happens soon after Solomon died.  Many have counted all the reigns of the Kings of Judah to match that, with disagreement on the details but basically they match that.  Here is one website doing so without mentioning Ezekiel.

The problem was there are apparent inconsistencies between the Biblical Chronology and the conclusions historians have drawn from Assyrian Chronology.  And so secular historians chose to believe Assyria over The Bible, and then many believers sought to force The Bible to match the presumed Assyrian Chronology.  But there have been good arguments against using Assyrian chronology this way at Answers In Genesis and Creation Wiki, though I don't always agree with them exactly, I made my own post that deals with Ahab and Jehu.

Bishop James Ussher's Chronology in Annals of The World I think made mistakes, but I believe he got the Kingdom Period right, from Saul down to Zedekiah.  Ussher's Chronology is summarized here.  My only variation from Ussher on the Kingdom period would be I'd have Solomon 2 or 3 years younger when he becomes King because I believe Solomon was the youngest of Bathsheba's sons.  So Ussher had him 18 I have him as 15 or 16.  That doesn't effect the other dates at all however.

So I place the beginning of Solomon's reign about 1015 BC.  And the completion of The Temple in 1004 BC.  With 1011 or 1012 BC as when The Temple construction was started.

Some will also try to use the way Josephus synchronized Solomon with a Tyrian historian in Against Apion to support a younger date for Solomon.  Josephus goal in that part of that book was to show the Israelite nation had antiquity from gentile histories.  If he was aware that date for Hiram's reign conflicted with his other information he may not have even concerned himself with it.  Some think the copies he had of those Tyrian historians may have already been corrupted from the originals, today we don't have them independent of Josephus at all unfortunately.

In Wars of The Jews, after The Temple is destroyed in Book 6 at the end of chapter 4 he says it had been since it's first foundation was laid by Solomon 1130 years plus 7 months and 15 days.  Counting back from 70 AD that gives us 1061 BC, which is older then Ussher's date, (during his time frame for the reign of Saul).  If someone can find a way to interpret the chronology of the Kingdom period consistent with that I'd be interested, but for now I still favor Ussher's.

Josephus also said in Wars 6.10 it was 477 years and 6 months from David's taking Jerusalem till it was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.  (Counting from a 588 BC date that is 1065 BC and 2 years later for the more popular 586 BC date) And that there was 1179 years from David till the destruction in 70 AD.  That's 1110 BC.  Not sure how those 3 dates he gave can be reconciled with each other much less The Bible.

When discussing the High Priesthood in Antiquities 20.10.2 he says there was 466 years and 6 months and 10 days form the dedication of Solomon's Temple till it was destroyed in 588-6 BC.  That gives us about 1054 BC for the completion of the Temple which is consistent with his date for when it began.  Which sounds like it makes 1065 BC his date for David's death and Solomon becoming King.  And 1110 BC his date for David being given Ziklag.  In Antiquities he corrects many mistakes he made in Wars.  These dates would add exactly 50 years to Ussher's for David and Solomon.

One thing that I feel confirms Ussher's date for the reigns of David and Solomon (about 1055-975 BC), is that Diodorus list of Thalasocracies (preserved by Eusebius) has the Pelasgians as the dominant seas power at about exactly that time (1057-972 BC).  And I've argued elsewhere how Pelesgians could come from Pelegians or descendants of Peleg, and thus be a term some Greeks might have called the Hebrews.  Also about 972 or 971 BC was when Ussher dated Shishak's sacking of Jerusalem in the early reign of Rehoboam.

Ussher's date for the Exodus was 1492 BC,  1 Kings 6:1 says there were 480 years from the Exodus to when The Temple was started.  Ussher and many others chose to just assume the one verse without a second witness settles the issue.

Problem is Acts 13 says there was 40 years in the Wilderness, 450 years of Judges, 40 years for Saul and 40 years for David.  That doesn't agree with only 480 years total, but when you count the time periods in Judges and 1 Samuel it agrees with 450 years from the first time Israel was subjugated to the start of Saul's reign.

Many have argued that the 480 year reference intentionally didn't count the foreign oppressions or the brief reign of Abimelech.  Which means you can add 114 years to the 480 to get 594 and then everything fits nicely.  That would move Ussher's Exodus date to 1606 BC, the end of the wandering in the Wilderness to 1566, the end of Joshua's 7 years conquest to 1559, and the death of Joshua in 1557 BC.

Josephus in Antiquities of The Jews 8.3.1 gave 592 years for this period.  Which suggests he considered the foreign oppressions to be excluded from the 480 but not Abimelech's 2 years.  He also said in 20.10.1 there were 612 years from Aaron till Solomon' Temple was dedicated.  Again Josephus numbers have issues, but he clearly recognized the Judges period was at least 450 years independent of trying to reconcile with Acts 13.

The Tetra-Scroll has the 430 years that ended with the Exodus begin when Abraham was 70.  This is based on her own convoluted explanation for two references being 430 years (Exodus 12:40 and Galatians 3:17) and another in Genesis 15 saying 400 years being a difference of 30 years before Issac was born.

But that doesn't work, nothing in The Bible is actually dated to when Abraham was 70, Genesis 12 begins with Abraham being 75 and that is where the 430 years references start.  Genesis 15 could just be saying about 400 years and the exact number we have to get elsewhere.

That is if you agree that the 430 years should begin with Abraham and not with Joseph.  As Ussher, the Tetra-Scroll and Rob Skiba all agree it should.  But I haven't made up my mind on that entirely yet.

The Prophecy being given to Abraham by no means proves it starts with him.  Galatians 3:17 is the main reason I have sometimes leaned towards 430 years from God making his promise to Abraham (which was when Abraham was 75, not 70) until the Torah was given.

The context of Galatians 3 earlier talked a great deal about Abraham.  But Promises were given more then once, so it could be Paul meant The Law was 430 years after the last Promise God gave the Patriarchs.  Which could arguably refer to the Death of either Jacob of Joseph.   Also what Paul meant could have been at least 430 years as he no doubt knew Exodus 12:40.

The way the 430 years is expressed in Exodus 12:40 makes it sound like it was entirely in Egypt.   Jacob died in 2315 AM.  Joseph died in 2369 AM.  According to Ussher, who's Biblical AM dates I consider correct up to the Death of Levi in 2385 AM.  The Death of Joseph is when the narrative of Genesis ends.  It could be the enslavement happened 30 years after Joseph died, which would make a lot of things fit.

I used to agree with Rob Skiba that they were not necessarily slaves for the entire 400 years, the disagreement is only if the 430 or 400 years should begin when either Joseph or the family as a whole entered Egypt rather then Abraham.  But the wording of Genesis 15 as I've studied it in more then just the KJV, says they will be in the nation that will afflict them for 400 years.

One mistake Skiba makes is he thinks the Pharaoh who "did not remember Joseph" literally lived so long later after that Joseph was forgotten.  If that's the case that actually supports a longer sojourn in Egypt model.

That statement could be just an expression meaning he didn't regard Joseph, he was willingly ignorant of what Joseph accomplished.  There is no guarantee that Pharaoh was born after Joseph died, and no reason he couldn't have been the very next new Pharaoh to be crowned after Joseph died.

Stephen in Acts further says that the Israelites suffered in Egypt for 400 years.  The Enslavement can't happen till after Joseph dies because it requires a New Pharaoh.  Perhaps it was 30 years after Joseph died.

Joseph's brothers entered Egypt over 200 years after God called Abraham, in the second year of the 7 year famine.  Joseph lived some time past that point and Moses was born 80 years before the Exodus.  So there would not be that many generations from Joseph to Moses.  If you start the 430 years with Abraham.  Yet the Hebrews had reproduced into a very large population.

Some might argue the genealogies don't give enough generations to fit my longer interpretation of the the Sojourn and Judges periods.  It can be demonstrated from The Bible repeatedly that Hebrew genealogies are willing to skip generations.  The Genesis 5 and 11 genealogies are exceptions because they mention dates, they're chrono-genealogies.  Matthew 1's genealogy skipped at least a few names the Old Testament records.  So I think there were more then two generations from Levi to Moses (certainly more then one mater-lineally).

There being more then only 10 generations from Pharez to David may hurt the way Chuck Missler likes to tie Genesis 38 to Deuteronomy 23:1-2's law about bastard lines not entering the assembly before the 10th generation as a prophecy of David.  But it may also be The Holy Spirit only recorded 10 generations to make it spiritually fit that even if it didn't literally.  The family of Boaz and Naomi certainly doesn't seem like one that didn't have full citizenship due to descending from bastards, they were actually pretty prominent locally.

Genesis 11:36 days Terah was 70 when he began having children.  Abraham is listed first because he's the most important to this chronicler, like Shem being listed first usually even though Genesis 10 tells us Japheth was the oldest and Shem the youngest.

The Chapter divisions were not in the original text, Genesis 11 ends with telling us Terah died then 12:1 God calls Abraham.  Acts 7:14 clarified Abraham left Haran when Terah died, which Genesis 12 makes clear was when Abraham was 75.  Since one of Abraham's brothers already had a full grown son at this time, it's not at all absurd to conclude Abraham was born 60 years after the firstborn.

The so called Book of Jasher supports a 1948 AM birth-date for Abraham because it's author wanted to have Abraham and Noah meet (it's basically Medieval Jewish Fan Fiction), and Noah died between 1948 and 2008 AM.  But since Noah was the first generation born after Adam died, Abraham being born after Noah died I feel fits better thematically.

So, Abraham was born in 2008 AM and called in 2083 AM.  Isaac was born 2108 AM and Abraham died in 2183 AM.

Ussher's Creation date I currently think was certainly 114 years off.  That gives us a Creation date of 4118 BC and the Flood in 2462 BC.  But I still haven't made up my mind exactly on chronology.

Also I do not believe The Tower of Babel incident happened the year Peleg was born, the Hebrew used a different word for divided there then when describing Babel.  I think it refereed to geographical divisions happening from the sea levels rising.  Babel would have happened sooner.  Peleg's Birth in the above model would be 2361 BC.

The author of the Tetra-Scroll eschatologically believes in the Seven Millenniums theory which I do not.  So she makes a big deal out of 6000 years from Creation being in her estimation 2107 AD and 7000 years being 3107.  My calculation above would give the 6000 years date as being 1883.

That is all assuming the 430 years begins with the call of Abraham.  No matter what I date 430 years before The Exodus to 2036 BC.

A longer Soujorn model would require a 4333 BC creation date at least, but if my hunch developed above of possibly beginning the 430 years with the Death of Joseph is correct, that would be a Creation date of 4405 BC and 2749 BC for The Flood and 2648 for the birth of Peleg.  That would place the year 6000 in 1596 AD.

I have trouble with using a Flood date as young as Ussher's (2348 BC) much less younger based on the conclusions I've come to studying Ancient History.

I don't mean Egypt (which conventional Chronology says started around 3100 BC) I know from the revised Chronology discussed on this blog Egypt is probably much younger.  And that Ussher's 2188 BC date for Egypt's founding is plausible.  Though I'd make it a little older then that.

China is not effected by revising Egyptian Chronology.  The dates for China's earliest Emperors are older even then the oldest Flood date proposed above.  The Earliest Chinese Emperors are highly mythologized, but I think their dates are accurate at least as early as Shun.

The date for the beginning of Fuxi's reign is right when Shem would have been born with a 2749 Flood date, 2852 BC.  Fuxi is the brother of Nuwa, a female Chinese deity with a name oddly similar to Noah, who is linked to China's Flood legend.  I feel it's possible Noah could have been married to his Sister, so they could be corrupted Pagan memorizes of Noah and his Wife.  The Yan Emperor is often identified with Shennong, he could be based on Shem.

2333 BC is the traditional date of the founding of the Korean kingdom of Gojoseon by Dangun.

But more directly relevant I expressed on this Blog before why I do feel The Sumerian Kings List isn't changed by Revised Chronology.  Though whether I favor the Short Chronology or Middle Chronology remains to be seen.  It's the Short Chronology that places the 2234 BC date for the founding of Babylon during the reign of Sargon of Akkad which fits the theories of my earlier Babel Post.  So I'll favor that for now.

That puts the Death of Gilgamesh at possibly 2623 BC but no later then 2503 BC.  Two Kings were between him and Enmerkar who I view as Nimrod.  Noah died 2006 AM which in this Creation model would be 2399 BC.  So Gilgamesh could have met him.

Deciding to randomly round down the exaggerated reigns of Enmerkar to 42, Lugalbanda 12, Dmuzid 10 and Gilgamesh to 12.  Gives them 76 years total.  Which could put the beginning of Nimrod's reign in 2699 BC.  Which in China happens to be the same year the Yellow Emperor began his reign.  I'm not gonna speculate they're the same person, but it's an interesting coincidence.  Sima-Qian considered him possibly the earliest historical Emperor.

The end of the reign of queen Kug-Bau/Kubaba of Kish would be 2409 BC.  The reign of Enshagkushana who she was contemporary with would be 2483-2423 BC using the calculation that has Gilgamessh die in 2623 BC.

Ur-Zababa of Kish's reign would have been from 2383-2377.  Sargon of Akkad was supposed to have been his Cup bearer at some point.  Which would make Sargon over 100 years old when he became King in about 2270 BC, and then reigned 56 years after that.  Genesis tells us that is possible.

The Death of Terah and Abraham leaving Haran would have been in 2322 BC.  During the reign of Ishme-Shamash of Kish, and possibly Lugal-Kinshe-dudu or Lugal-ure of Uruk.  A post I already linked to shows why I do NOT believe Abraham's Ur was the Sumerian Ur as popularly thought.

Chedolaomer was probably a King of the Awan dynasty who reigned before the Akadian period.  And Amraphel was probably an alternate name for either the contemporary ruler of Kish or Uruk.

I think it's possible the Babel project happened about a Jubilee (49 years) after The Flood around 2700 BC.  Giving Nimrod/Enmerkar about a year to establish himself via his Hunting prowess as a leading figure in Uruk, to then consolidate his power and build an Emperor over the next 42 years.

If you're thinking  "that isn't enough time to produce enough people" you're wrong.  Babel was at the time the dispersion happened probably not a Metropolis by modern standards, I'd be shocked if it had a whole 500 people.  I've done math that tells me you could easily get over 120 people who would be adults by modern standards, and did some rounding down to be safe.

So I feel the 4405 BC Creation date works.  Making now, October of 2015 AD the year 6419 AM.

Update December 8 2015:  I've been rethinking the material from Ezekiel 4:4-6 where the 390 years comes from.  It also refers to 40 years for Judah specifically.  40 years before the finale deportation in 584 BC was 624 BC when Josiah's special Second Passover occurred that brought many of the North to Judah.  It could be that's the end of the Iniquity of the House of Israel followed by 40 remaining years for Judah.  I'm unsure on this though because it would mean finding room for another 40 years in the chronology of the divided kingdom.

But if I could push my Creation and Flood dates down another 40 years to 4445 BC and 2789 BC Flood date.  That gives 89 rather then 49 years between the Flood and when I've calculated the reign of Enmerkar to begin.  Plenty of time for the Tower of Babel to have possibly happened 70-75 years after The Flood.

Also about 635-634 BC was when Josiah began to after God.  So that could add another decade.  And make an interesting thing to speculate with regard to Josephus numbers.

That would change my year 6000 AM date from 1596 to 1556.

But because of certain secular correlations discussed above and how it'd revamp the Kingdom period, I still favor the 4405 BC Creation date.  I found one random site online predating my first making this post that states a 4405 BC Creation date, but it doesn't explain why.  It's Here, that seems to have taken it's info from this Yahoo Answers entry, where a comment leaver named Voice in The Wilderness gave a 4405 BC date 4 years ago.

There is also the option of counting the 390 years as including Solomon's reign since the iniquity did begin with his mistakes, including marrying the Daughter of Pharaoh right at the start.  And so you could end it with Josiah's Passover and still get the same time frame for the Divided Kingdom.

Now it's popular to interpret this 390 years as a prophecy about the Northern Kingdom's captivity and play all kind of games with it misusing the "seven times" statement from Levitcus which was not about time periods.

The Hebrew word translated iniquity means guilt and offense.  The few senses where it can be used of punishment it would mean punishment equivalent to the sin.  Like the captivity in Babylon being 70 years because for 490 years they didn't keep the sabbatical year, that's 70 sabbatical years.  So I have looked at eschatological applications for the 390 years, but they still must be proceeded by 390 years of sin.

February 3rd 2016 Update: I speculate on some Pre-Flood chronology in a new post.


  1. I've visited your blog several times, and I like how you gather the good thoughts from many people (Josephus, Ussher, Velikovsky, Rohl, etc.) and weave them together. I've also done some research in chronology, and have concluded that Ussher is a very reliable Bible chronologist (though, like you, there are places that I deviate a couple years).
    I am puzzled why you quote him as placing the Exodus in 1492 BC; he placed it in 1491 BC. I see the rationale behind this date is in the article above; we agree on the importance of Ezekiel 4 and all date Solomon's accession to 1015 BC. I had written the following for an upcoming article in the Anabaptist Forum (The Conquest of Canaan- Part 1, Anabaptist Forum Vol. 4 No. 1, Jan. Feb. 2017, note 3):
    "Ussher, James, The Annals of the World (Master Books, 2003), p. 39; and Jones, Dr. Floyd Nolen, The Chronology of the Old Testament (Master Books Edition, 2005), p. 70-72, 132-135. Here are the mathematics: Ezekiel 4:4-5 says the Israelites would have to make restitution for 390 years 'inclusive' (this means 389 years, including part of the 390th year) of iniquity. These years ended with the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadrezzar II in 586 BC. Adding 389 (and a fraction) years brings us to 975 BC. Logically, the beginning of the iniquity is the construction of the golden calves by Jeroboam I, the year the kingdom was divided. (In fact, this is what those numbers in Kings and Chronicles come to when added up: if you are a serious student of Bible history, by all means invest in a copy of Jones' book.) Solomon reigned 40 years (1015-975 BC), and began the temple in 1012 BC (I Ki. 6:1). This was in the 480th year inclusive (479+ years) after the Exodus, which thus was in 1491 BC. Forty years after the Exodus, the Conquest began in 1451 BC."
    The other issue that is raised, however, is that Acts 13:20 seems to conflict with the 480 years of I Kings. F.N. Jones deals with this at length (pp. 71-76), and comes out at the same conclusion as Ussher had. Namely, that the context is important: verse 17 begins with God choosing "our fathers" Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 17) and verse 19 ends with the division of the land 7 years after the Conquest. Then verse 20 reads literally: "And after these things about years four hundred and fifty he gave judges until Samuel the prophet." Read it again, and pause after "these things about years four hundred and fifty." Doesn't that suggest that when Paul said "450 years", he was referring to "these [preceding] things?
    To clarify, from the covenant ritual with Abraham in his 99th year to the dividing of the land after the Conquest was 453 years (to the birth of Jacob 61 years, to Jacob's going to Egypt 130 years, to end of Sojourn 215 years, to Conquest 40 years, to division of land 7 years= 453 ["about 450"]years. I have to remind myself that this interpretation is supported by the original Greek literal reading, even though the KJV interpretation confuses the order of words- and thoughts. Again, Ussher interpreted Acts 13:20 this way; his solution is quoted by Jones in The Chronology of the Old Testament, page 76. Jones, no doubt weary from the "crux chronologorum" (as Scaliger called it), finished: "An "iffy" Scripture... must never be used to override the testimony of a crystal clear verse which can only have one meaning- I Kings 6:1 is certainly the latter."
    The Ussher-Jones chronology is thus:
    586 BC- Fall of Jerusalem, end of 390 years
    975 BC- Division of the kingdom, beginning of 390 years
    1012 BC- Temple begun, end of 480 years
    1446 BC- Conquest ends, end of "about 450" years; God gives judges
    1491 BC- Exodus, end of 430 years, beginning of 480 years
    1706 BC- Beginning of 4-generation (Gen. 15:16) sojourn
    1897 BC- Isaac born, "about 450" years began with previous year's covenant when God chose him as heir
    1921 BC- Abram leaves Haran, beginning of 430 years
    Interesting Reading!
    Matthew Brubacher

  2. I'm sometimes off by a year in how I recall Ussher's dates.

    Your argument is interesting, but I feel closely studying Judges doesn't support it. And I also remained convinced that the Isrealites spend 400 years as Slaves.

    Thank you for your comment.

    1. I'll present the thoughts of several other men in relation to the length of the Sojourn.
      Dr. Glen A. Fritz (author of The Lost Sea of the Exodus) posted a clear, elegant article on “The Length of the Israelite Sojourn in Egypt” on his website . He does not even name an Exodus date here, focusing instead on the length of the Sojourn itself. I agree with his main conclusion, a 215-year sojourn.
      Unfortunately, he believes that Ex. 12:40 originally read “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel and their fathers, who dwelt in Egypt and Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years”, with the additions underlined. His evidence for this is that “eight ancient documents point to a corrupted and incomplete Exod. 12:40-41 in the Masoretic Text. These sources include two Septuagint manuscripts, the Samaritan Pentateuch...” etc. He is sure that the verse is 'truncated', saying of those that believe otherwise: “The only explanation I can offer is that the Leningrad Codex of the Masoretic Text has been assumed to be infallible.”
      However, I will offer another explanation: that Exodus 12:40 is NOT truncated in the Leningrad Codex (or KJV), but that it read close to “Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, [was] four hundred and thirty years” in the original. The evidence for this is that there has been a long-standing controversy over the length of the sojourn. The cause of this controversy could well have been the terse reading in Ex. 12:40, which was written to be understood as referring to the chosen people from Abraham, though it specified his Israelite descendants. The verse was later (sometime BC) expanded with two explanatory phrases, which notes were included in Fritz's 'eight translations' as part of the main text. Evidence that the Leningrad Codex contains the original is supported by a Dead Sea scroll, which reads the same way.
      The verse is explained by Dr. F.N. Jones (following Ussher) in The Chronology of the Old Testament, pp. 55-60, saying:
      “Exodus 12:40 does not say that the children of Israel sojourned (or dwelt) 430 years [only] in Egypt. It does say that the sojourn of that particular branch of Abraham's lineage as traced through Isaac and Jacob, with which we are specifically concerned, was the group which eventually went down to Egypt. In other words, it is a statement defining and identifying with which of Abraham's lineages the narrative is dealing as Abraham had numerous other lineages.”
      So he concludes that the term “children of Israel was a generic term (it certainly was after the Exodus), a term that was to be understood as including the previous heirs of the promise, Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. The debate can only be resolved when all the relevant OT passages (about 4) and NT passages (about 3) are taken together.
      Moving to the underpinnings of the issue, another concise article was written by Dr. Charles V. Taylor: “A Question of Translation?”, CEN Technical Journal Vol. 6(1) . It looks at which versions are reliable, when tackling this issue.
      Others who understood the Old Testament (the only primary source) to support a sojourn of around 215 years were the authors of the Seder ‘Olam of the Babylonian Talmud (the earliest rabbinical commentary), Josephus, and Paul.
      The main chronogenealogies are in Genesis 5 and 11 as Jonathan Sarfati explains. The consistent chronological data enables us to calculate the span from Adam to Abraham. However, Exodus 6:16-20 gives the lyears of Levi, Kohath, and Amram the father of Moses. Clearly, Moses did not intend us to insert extra generations in his ancestry if he gave this data. This means Moses was the fulfillment of God's promise that some of the fourth generation (Gen. 15:16; counted from the time that they entered Egypt) would be alive to leave Egypt.

    2. I really don't see even that longer reading of Exodus 12 as helping a shorter sojourn.

      To me the smoking gun in Genesis 15, it clearly says the servitude would be 400 years.

    3. Maybe this reply is unnecessary, since it mostly goes over ground already covered, but in case there are other interested people that are weighing the question, I'll respond.
      Genesis 15:13 & Acts 7:6 (Exodus 12:40 reviewed in earlier comment)
      It's interesting that you cite Genesis 15:13 as an objection to a short sojourn. Have you researched this verse at all from the viewpoint of a short sojourn? The explanations are fairly easy to find. An analysis of this verse was included in the Companion Bible. The key is the structure of the verse; the text is known as an introversion, as shown:
      (A) Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs
      (B) and they [seed] shall serve them [foreigners]
      (B) and they [foreigners] shall afflict them [seed]
      (A) four hundred years.
      Thus, A and A correspond to the same event and to each other. They define the whole period of Abraham's seed (through Isaac) in Canaan and Egypt, without permanent dwelling in either, as being 400 years.
      B and B likewise correspond to each other but relate to a special event within that of which A and A speak. B and B are parenthetic and only relate to the dwelling, servitude, and affliction in Egypt. Further details concerning the servitude in Egypt, referred to in B and B, are found in Genesis 15:14-16.
      Acts 7:6, which recounts this prophecy to Abraham, also exhibits this parenthetical nature.
      Really, it is illogical to protest that the seed of Abraham was not being afflicted for the full 400 years if one adapts a short sojourn- after all, for the first 100 years or so in Egypt, in a long sojourn, they were not being persecuted either! No matter if the sojourn was 215 or 430 years, the Israelites were not being afflicted and serving as slaves for the full term. Although Isaac and Jacob both experienced affliction (Isaac had his wells taken away, and Jacob was driven to Haran for 20 years), the final enslavement happened well into the 400/430 years.
      Thus, in any case, Genesis 15:13 does not insist that the affliction and slavery lasted a full 400 years; the beginning of those years were tolerable. The thing to determine, then, is whether the last 100 or the last 300 years of those 400 years were spent in slavery (i.e. whether the 400-year count began with Isaac or Jacob's family).
      In hindsight, we might think that the descent to Egypt would be the obvious point for the Israelites to start counting years from. However, the fact is, they had been semi-nomadic and moving here and there already before that. Counting years would probably have started with Abraham's departure from Ur, the ancestral home. This is when the patriarchs began their sojourning; the descent to Egypt was, in a sense, just another part of dwelling in a strange land. Abraham had gone to Egypt once, as well; moving when a famine came was just part of their lifestyle.
      Galatians 3:17
      The verse before Galatians 3:17 does talk about promises in the plural, but the context does not suggest that God spoke to anyone but Abraham. (Later patriarchs also received promises, but these don't seem to be in focus here.) Galatians 3:16 and 18 suggest that the promises in focus were made to Abraham, with respect to him and his greatest seed- Christ. By them the whole earth in turn could receive the promises (Gal. 3:14). Thus, of the patriarchs, only Abraham is in focus in these verses. Hence, the 430 years was from Abraham to Sinai.
      This conclusion is confirmed when one notes that, although the word “promises” appears at the end of Galatians 3:17, the starting-point of the 430 year period is actually the COVENANT- which was made first to Abraham. Also, the context of Galatians 3 talks about the faith of Abraham who was by virtue of faith the first recipient of the promises- not of Jacob, who merely followed after, and was not as well known for either his faith or for his receiving groundbreaking promises or covenants from God.

    4. I'm aware of that argument and I remain unimpressed. If the 400 years doesn't apply to the entire statement that it's a useless description.

      Galatians is the main reason people want to argue for a shorter sojourn. But Paul's was to say it was at least that.

  3. Here I was asking you about the year's difference in your articles, and I went and placed Isaac's birth a year too soon myself. It should read '1896 BC' (and the choosing of Isaac was the year before in 1897).
    Thanks for your reply

  4. Anyway, working backwards from our point of agreement (the reign of Solomon, 1015-975 BC), you suggest that the period of the judges may have been too long to fit into the 480 years prescribed in I Kings 6, saying that 'Judges doesn't support it'. I'm not sure what you're referring to, but maybe it's that when one adds up the numbers of oppressions and rests in Judges, the total number exceeds 350 (which remains after the Wanderings, the Conquest, the reigns of Saul, David and 3 years' of Solomon [130 years] are subtracted from 480). Well, there is evidence that there was some overlap in the time of the judges, and they could then be compressed into 350 years to honor I kings 6:1.
    On the other hand, there's other, stronger evidence that the Judges period did not span 450 years. (This is illustrated in Mahoney, Timothy, Patterns of Evidence: Exodus, p. 347.) It's the genealogy of David, which is given twice in the OT and repeated twice in the NT. David was born in 1085- this we agree on. If the period of the Judges lasted 450 years, his ancestors would have to have consistently fathered their sons at an incredibly late time in their life- about 140 years old! (And Moses thought that 70 years was a reasonable life, even if people later lived to over 130.) This is because Nahshon (Ex. 6:23, Num. 1:7) was a man when he left Egypt, and thus died in the wilderness. His son Salmon thus had to have been born in the wilderness (or up to 20 years before the Exodus). So if Jesse was 140 when David was born, Jesse was born in 1225. His father Obed under the same rule would have been born in 1365. His father Boaz in 1505. His father Salmon married Rahab, who was at least 20 at the fall of Jericho which you date at 1566, making her at least 81 when Boaz was born. But a woman having a son at over 80 and 3 men having sons at about 140 is... unbelievable. What are our alternatives?
    You suggested one- that there might have been more generations, that were skipped. Indeed Matthew did skip some in other sections of the genealogy, but he was clearly not giving a biological descent. Luke on the other hand, has no known generations omitted- unless we magically insert some to fix this problem. But there is no other ground for doing so, because both OT genealogies give exactly the same descent. Also, besides the genealogies in Ruth and I Ch., we have details about these men's lives that preclude a gap between some of these men (Salmon-Boaz, Boaz-Obed, and Jesse-David.) In fact, the only place one could possibly insert extra generations is between Obed and Jesse. No, these (Ruth, I Ch., Luke) are not chronogenealogies (glad you give those due honor, recognizing that they don't have gaps), but the record of Ruth is more than a genealogy. It's a record of a family's rise from foreigners to a king.
    I'd suggest another alternative. If I Kings 6:1 is taken at face value, the men would have fathered at about 95-100 (Jones, F.N., The Chronology of the Old Testament, p. 74). Jesse would have been born in 1180, Obed in 1280, Boaz in 1375, and Salmon in 1470, making him about 20 when he entered Canaan in 1451 and married Rahab. So if one takes an ambiguous reading (Acts 13:20) as foundational, one needs to insert gaps in two independent records. If one takes a clear reading (I ki. 6:1) as foundational, no unattested gaps are needed. After all, some judges probably ruled simultaneously. (Example: Judges 10:7 says both the Ammonites and the Philistines invaded the land, but the narrative describes only the defeat of the Ammonites. Another south/western judge may have driven out the Philistines during or after Jephthah's eastern judgeship.)
    So the point is- was the Exodus in 1606 or in 1491 BC? It depends which verse one fits into the other- and since God's word is inerrant, they will need to agree in the end. Maybe we can eventually agree as well.:-)
    I'll look forward to your response.

    1. Hebrew genealogies sometimes skip generations, this is proven by Matthew's genealogy. Only Genesis 5 and 11 are exceptions to this because they give years.