How long time was Israel in Egypt?

was it 430, 400 or 215 years?

Was it 430 years?

Exodus 12.40-41:

"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.

And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, even the selfsame day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt."

Was it 400 years?

Genesis 15.13:

"And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years"

Acts 7.6:

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


Martin Luther says that when the scripture only says 400 years, it is because it does not count the time so accurately, but merely shows that the people would rejoice after approx. four hundred years. The same thing we do ourselves, in the beginning, we count every single year that went, but over time we also become unprecise and tell an approximate time instead of being completely accurate. We round off.

Luther's Works, Volume 2

Or was it 215 years?

James Usher,  Josephus,  Martin Luther, and Paul believe that Israel was only in Egypt for 215 years and not 430 years.

But the Jews themselves believe in the Seder Olam that also have them in Egypt for only 215 years.

But there are still many Christians today that believe that the Jews were in Egypt for 430 years.

 The difference is therefore 215 years between my first Bible timeline and James Usher Bible Timeline.


Paul writes

Galatians 3:17 -18

And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.

For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.


The reason Paul writes such is that he has like always looked in the Greek text tradition, the Septuagint when there was an incompatibility between that and the Masoretic text.

Although James Ussher used the Masoretic (Hebrew) text to make his calculations. Then he agrees with Poul and what is in the Greek Septuagint. Where it says that they were in Egypt and Canaan for 430 years. This "and  Canaan" has been deleted in the Masoretic text, or added in the Greek Septuagint.

And the sojourning of the Children of Israel while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan, was four hundred and thirty years.

- EX. 12:40 Brenton
(Based on Septuagint Greek text)

How we calculate the 215 years between Abram's enter into Canaan where he gets the promise and to Jacob/Israel enter into Egypt, you can see here. 

Abraham, age 75 enters Canaan            0 years
Abraham, age 100, Isaac born        +   25 years
Isaac, age 60, Jacob born                 +  60 years
Jacob, age 130, enters Egypt            + 130 years
                                                     Total of  215 years
So there are 215 years from Abraham get the promise to Jacob/Israel does enter Egypt.
215 - 430 = 215 years in Egypt.
Exodus was not in 1250 but more likely 1500-1650 BC
Therefore there are 215 years between my 4222 BC. Bible Timeline and James Usher 4004 BC.
430 years vs 215 years

One reason they think it is only 215 years and not 430 years.

Could be as can be seen in the picture that there are only three generations and only 286 years in total does not fit with the 430 years.

Levi's son Kobath was born before they enter Egypt and he leaves father to Amram and lived to be 133. Amram becomes the father of Moses and he lived to be 137 years. And Moses is 80 years old they leave Egypt again.


An explanation could be that there are some genealogies missing here. But there are also many other possible explanations.


But vice versa then perhaps because it is very hard to believe that they went from only 70-75 people who entered Egypt to "About 600,000 men in addition to all the women and the children leaving Egypt." after just 215  years, then its more easy to believe in the 430 years.

But it is not impossible that they could go from 75 to over 2.7 Million. Dr. Robert Carter explains it in this video.

Bible scholar Nehemia Gordon

Explain more in this short video.