Abraham was 75 when the promise was given (Genesis 12:4). 25 years later, he begat Isaac at 100 years of age (Genesis 21:5), Isaac begat Jacob when he was 60 (Genesis 25:26) and Jacob went to the land of Egypt when he was 130 years of age (Genesis 47:9). Up to this it makes 215 years, after this it took 430 years when Israel left Egypt and got the “Law” at Sinai (Ex 12:40). Totally, it makes 645 years. How should this verse be understood?
ESV - 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.
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In my humble opinion, this can be potentially resolved by a look at what God says in Genesis 15:13. In it, God promises Abraham that his descendants would be 'afflicted for four hundred years.' Let us flash forward to Israel, to whom God reiterates the promises in Genesis 46:2-4 that he had made to Abraham. It is then that the four hundred years passes, leading to the fulfillment of the covenant and the delivering of the law. You see, four hundred years was promised to pass before deliverance, but they had not begun until Israel was in Egypt. One must not also forget that, in Hebrew thought, that when God spoke the promise to Abraham, he was also speaking it to Israel, who was dwelling in Abraham at the time, much like how Levi paid tithes to Melchizedek according to the writer of Hebrews 7:9-10. So, one could say that, while the promise was first spoken to Abraham, the one to whom the four hundred thirty years was promised was Israel. This is further evidenced in Hebrews 11:5-10, when the writer says that Abraham went to live 'in tents with Isaac and Jacob.' At the same time, the main point of Paul's message was not the technical passage of time, though, to be sure, the required time had passed, but that the Abrahamic Covenant was not nullified by the Mosaic Law. The context of Galatians is that the people were twisting the Gospel of Christ and of God's grace into something other than what it was intended to be. Instead of liberating people from the constraints of the law, Judaizers were saying that, in order to be a true Christian, people had to become Jews first and get circumcised, etc. Thus, Paul was reminding them that the law and the promises of God are two separate things, and that adherence to the law does not save one from God's wrath. It is only by clinging to the promises that God has made, which He promised by Himself (see Hebrews 6:13; Genesis 15), that all believers in Christ have eternal life (1 John 5:13). God bless!
Because I am a "numbers" person, this question is exceptional. It's intriguing how the LORD hides beautiful truths interwoven throughout the Word, hidden from the wise and left for the babes. Line upon line, precept precept, just like the prophet said. Isa 28:10, Luk 10:21 Abraham was promised that his Seed would become a great Nation and inherit the Land after they suffered. This was the Promise, Abraham waited on the Performance. A Principal of God Almighty, with every Promise comes the Performance, and the waiting on the Performance is an act of Faith. Abraham was with Issac when Rebekah was with child, the famous twins, Jacob and Esau. The Bible records that Rebekah went and inquired of the LORD. (Wonder why Issac did not go?) "LORD, why are they trying to tear my insides apart!" How did they inquire of the LORD? They had to build an altar and make a sacrifice. She was pregnant with twins who were fighting in her womb. So who did this for her? I propose her very own Father in law, Abraham? He was there when God spoke to Rebekah and revealed the prophecy of the two Nations that were fighting in her womb. Gen 25:13 Abraham was there when Jacob was born, he was his grandfather. He tutored him. Jacob stayed in the tents. Esau preferred to hunt game, large or small. Gen 21:4, tells us Abraham was 100 when Issac was born, Gen 25:7 records that Abraham lived to be 175. Gen 25:26 states Issac was 60 when Jacob was born Abraham was appox. 160 years old. Jacob learned about the LORD God from Abraham. We know this happened as later when Jacob had the beautiful dream and was shown the Ladder of Heaven He awoke and prayed to the Lord God, calling the place the House of God, or Bethel. Gen 28:22 Abraham also knew that Jacob would carry the Promise Seed, He knew the blessings the LORD God had promised him would one day rest on this young man's head. Abraham poured into Jacob everything he knew about God. Gen 28:13-15, We never read of God speaking to Abraham after Jacob was born. The torch was being passed. As Jacob grew and matured, left home, took wives, had children, the LORD began to deal with Jacob to bring him back to the land of his birth. After a night of wrestling, Jacob's name was changed to Israel. Still, the promise to Abraham had not met performance. Gen 32:24-30, Gen 35:11-12, Finally, a seventeen year old boy had some dreams. (Gen 37:5) Performance had arrived. Promise had finally met performance. Joseph was sold to Egypt (Gen 37:28) A Jewish boy was sold to slavery for 30 years. (Gen 46:2-3) Joseph brought his family and Jacob to Egypt. They were enslaved for an additional 400 years. The Lord God used Egypt's hard rod to toughen the Israelites. (Ex 1:12) To make them a great Nation that would one day walk out of Egypt with riches and wealth unbelievable! (Ex 3:21-22, Ex 11:2-3, Ex 12:35-36) Over 600,000 fighting men plus women and children left Egypt that first Passover. The Promise fulfilled! This is how I believe the 430 years is calculated that Paul talked about. 30 for Joseph and 400 for Israel, for a total of 430 till the Law, Be Blessed, Lena
Arun, you asked a great question and I thank the Lord for your question, because it will shed light on what a lot of people have been confused about. Please, take the time to read the comments made by Joseph Wade Turner. It explains what the Lord was saying to Abram, concerning the affliction of 400 years.(Genesis 15:13). God was not telling Abram that the affliction would begin while He was talking to Abram, if that were the case, it would be 645. God did not even tell Abram when the affliction would start, however, when the affliction started, we all know it, because it started in the Exodus 1. Also, read Exodus 12:40-41, Acts 7:6. God bless you for this great question. I hope this clarifies and answers your question.
Please consider my different take on this "430 years". The question centers on Paul's letter Gal. 3:17 "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. The prevailing understanding of this verse was that this refers to the Law that was given 430 years after the promise to Abraham. Because of this assumption, many calculations and commentaries resulted. But, could this original verse be "lost in translation" because of "sentence construction" by the translator? In my humble opinion, after reading through this verse over and over again and all biblical references to "430 years" especially Ex. 12:40-42, we may need to re-evaluate our current understanding. Notice that the operative word to Paul was "confirmed". Meaning that the promise to Abraham was "confirmed" 430 years later. But, how was that promise "confirmed"? Was it "confirmed" by giving of the Law at Mt Sinai? The essence of Paul's letter was magnifying faith not Law. The calculation cannot therefore be about the Law. So, a better way to "confirm" actually transpired in Exodus. Since the promise was actually to "the seed" (Christ) not seeds according to Paul, this was therefore "confirmed" "in Christ"(Gal.3:17), i.e., the blood of the Lamb at the first Passover in Nisan 14. From the narrative in Exodus, this was the first time when the lamb was killed and the blood of the Lamb "confirmed" that the "firstborns" were saved from death. Calculation of 430 years has to be from the time the promise was made(which was covenantal) to the time it was "confirmed". Indeed, proof positive that the promise is well-founded in the blood of Christ. Nowhere prior to this seminal event was the promise "confirmed" with the blood of the Lamb and "actual and verifiable salvation" of the "firstborn", until this time. In Ex 12:40-42 "...selfsame day (Nisan 15) when Israel left Egypt and freed from bondage..." end of 430 years..." Contextually, the covenant promise to Abraham was confirmed "in Christ" (the Seed) after 430 years, when Passover was killed, "firstborn" saved from death (salvation) and Israel left Egyptian bondage. That promise, having been confirmed 430 years after, cannot therefore be disannulled by the Law that came after. Lost in Translation?
Just do the math and you will see: 1) They where not in Egypt for 430 years Let’s count the ages from the genealogy. “And these were the names of the children of Yisra’ĕl,......who came into Mitsrayim: Berĕshith (Genesis) 46:8 TS2009 “And the sons of Lĕwi:.... Qehath.... Berĕshith (Genesis) 46:11 TS2009 “And the sons of Qehath: Amram....... And the years of the life of Qehath were 133” Shemoth (Exodus) 6:18 TS2009 “And Amram took.......a wife. And she bore him Aharon and Mosheh. And the years of..... Amram were 137” Shemoth (Exodus) 6:20 TS2009 *Read Exodus 12:40 in the Septuagint (the oldest fully intact bible) and you will see: Land of Canaan was taken out. And the sojourning of the children of Israel, while they sojourned in the land of Egypt and the land of Chanaan, was four hundred and thirty years.
In many versions, Exodus 12:40 seems to indicate that Israel was in Egypt for the whole 430 years. So, it would be logical to add the 430 years of the supposed duration in Egypt to the 215 years from the covenant with Abraham to Jacob’s entrance into Egypt which would make a total of 645 years. However, in Galatians 3:17, Paul notes that from the covenant to the law was 430 years. This would be the covenant with Abraham until the giving of the law. He gives the total number of years. A study of Exodus 12:40 provides an explanation. The literal translation reads, “Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was 430 years.” The phrase “who lived in Egypt” merely tells as a side note where they were living at the time of the Exodus. So, the sojourn in Egypt was not necessarily 430 years long, and it can be determined it was not. The Septuagint (LXX), the Greek translation of the Old Testament, has the sojourn “in the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt,” and the Samaritan Pentateuch has “in Egypt and in the land of Canaan.” These two sources added words to correctly explain what was meant. The sojourning or dwelling was not all in Egypt. Part of the sojourn was in the land of Canaan where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lived. The total sojourning in both Canaan and Egypt lasted 430 years. The time between the call of Abraham and Jacob moving into Egypt adds up to 215 years. If the total time is 430 years, it leaves 215 years for the time Israel was in Egypt. There are two equal periods of 215 years: From the call of Abraham to Jacob moving into Egypt: 215 years of the sojourn in Canaan. From Jacob moving into Egypt to Israel leaving Egypt: 215 years of the sojourn in Egypt. Both Scriptural mentions of 430 years are the same period of time. The beginning point for both references of Galatians and Exodus is when God made the covenant with Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3. The ending point is the year Israel left Egypt and when the law was given three months later, Exodus 19:1. The following chart shows details of the period from the call of Abraham to the Exodus: 0 – the call of Abraham at 75, Genesis 12:1-7 25 – Isaac born when Abraham was 100, Genesis 21:5 60 – sixty years later, Jacob was born, Genesis 25:26 130 – Jacob at 130 years old entered Egypt, Genesis 47:9, making a total of 215 years from the call of Abraham to Jacob’s move into Egypt 215 – years Israel was in Egypt until the Exodus 430 – total number of years from call of Abraham to Exodus By subtracting the 215 years covering the period of Abraham’s covenant through Jacob’s entrance into Egypt from the total 430 years, it leaves 215 years of sojourn just in Egypt. Israel was not in Egypt for 430 years.
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