How Long Did The Jews Suffer In Egypt?

Q. In my weekly bible study class, we were told the Jews were only in Egypt for 210 years and of that time only 80 some years were in hard labor, not the 400 years as I had always been taught. Is this correct?

A. Genesis 15:13 says,

Then the LORD said to him, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own, and they will be enslaved and mistreated four hundred years.”

The Hebrew word translated four appears 316 times and is translated four in 265 of them. The word for hundred appears 518 times and is translated hundred 571 of them. Like the word for four, the other times are as parts of compound words.

There’s no reason to doubt the Bible’s claim, and if it really was some other number, then God lied to the Amorites and judged them prematurely. (According to Genesis 15:16 God had in effect given the Amorites 400 years to repent. This is why He couldn’t give Abraham the land immediately.)

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