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English Bible Dictionary

The Exodus

 

Of the Israelites from Egypt. the common chronology places the date of this event at B.C. 1491, deriving it in this way:--In (1 Kings 6:1) it is stated that the building of the temple, in the forth year of Solomon, was in the 480th year after the exodus. The fourth year of Solomon was bout B.C. 1012. Add the 480 years (leaving off one years because neither the fourth nor the 480th was a full year), and we have B.C. 1491 as the date of the exodus. This is probably very nearly correct; but many Egyptologists place it at 215 years later,--about B.C. 1300. Which date is right depends chiefly on the interpretation of the Scripture period of 430 years, as denoting the duration of the bondage of the Israelites. The period of bondage given in (Genesis 15:13,14; Exodus 12:40,41) and Gala 3:17 As 430 years has been interpreted to cover different periods. The common chronology makes it extend from the call of Abraham to the exodus, one-half of it, or 215 years, being spend in Egypt. Others make it to cover only the period of bondage spend in Egypt. St. Paul says in (Galatians 3:17) that from the covenant with (or call of) Abraham the giving of the law (less than a year after the exodus) was 430 years. But in (Genesis 15:13,14) it is said that they should be strangers in a strange land, and be afflicted 400 years, and nearly the same is said in (Exodus 12:40) But, in very truth, the children of Israel were strangers in a strange land from the time that Abraham left his home for the promised land, and during that whole period of 430 years to the exodus they were nowhere rulers in the land, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. So in (Exodus 12:40) it is said that the sojourning of the children of Israel who dwelt in Egypt was 430 years. But it does not say that the sojourning was all in Egypt, but this people who lived in Egypt had been sojourners for 430 years.

(a) This is the simplest way of making the various statements harmonize.

(b) The chief difficulty is the great increase of the children of Israel from 70 to 2,000,000 in so short a period as 215 years, while it is very easy in 430 years. But under the circumstances it is perfectly possible in the shorter period. See on ver. 7

(C) If we make the 430 years to include only the bondage in Egypt, we must place the whole chronology of Abraham and the immigration of Jacob into Egypt some 200 years earlier, or else the exodus 200 years later, or B.C. 1300. in either case special difficulty is brought into the reckoning.

(d) Therefore, on the whole, it is well to retain the common chronology, though the later dates may yet prove to be correct. The history of the exodus itself commences with the close of that of the ten plagues. [THE Ten Commandments] In the night in which, at midnight, the firstborn were slain, (Exodus 12:29) Pharaoh urged the departure of the Israelites. vs. (Exodus 12:31,32) They at once set forth from Rameses, vs. (Exodus 12:37,39) apparently during the night v. (Exodus 12:42) but towards morning on the 15th day of the first month. (Numbers 33:3) They made three journeys, and encamped by the Red Sea. Here Pharaoh overtook them, and the great miracle occurred by which they were saved, while the pursuer and his army were destroyed. [Passage OF]

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