The 400 Years and 430 Years
Time Puzzle


The 400 and 430 year periods serve the purpose of bridging the gap between
the time of Abraham and the Exodus (of the children of Israel from Egypt).

Many have advanced various theories or solutions to the twin periods of
'four hundred years' and 'four hundred and thirty years', but when one
considers these theories carefully they do not completely satisfy the
stated requirements.

The verses which mention these periods are as follows.


     Gen   15:13   Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that your
                   descendants will be strangers in a land that is not
                   theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict
                   them four hundred years.
             :14   And also the nation whom they serve I will judge;
                   afterward they shall come out with great possessions."

     Acts   7:6    But God spoke in this way: that his descendants
                   would sojourn in a foreign land, and that they
                   would bring them into bondage and oppress them
                   four hundred years.
             :7    'And the nation to whom they will be in bondage
                   I will judge', said God, 'and after that they
                   shall come out and serve Me in this place'.


     Exod  12:40   Now the sojourn of the children of Israel, who lived
                   in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.
             :41   And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred
                   and thirty years - on that very same day - it came
                   to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out
                   from the land of Egypt.

   [ Literal =
     Exod  12:40   And dwelling of sons/builders of Israel, which dwelt
                   in Egypt, thirty year and four of hundreds year.
             :41   And is becoming from end of thirty year and four of
                   hundreds year and is becoming very of the day this
                   they went forth all of hosts of Yahweh from land of
                   Egypt. ]

   [ The rendering 'sojourn' is questionable. The Hebrew word according
     to Strong's means "a seat; figuratively, a site; abstractly, a
     session; by extension an abode (the place or time); ..." ]

     Gal    3:15   Brethren, I speak in the manner of men: Though it
                   is only a man's covenant, yet if it is confirmed,
                   no one annuls or adds to it.

             :17   And this I say, that the law, which was four hundred
                   and thirty years later, cannot annul the covenant
                   that was confirmed before by God in Christ, that
                   it should make the promise of no effect.

In addition to these verses it is necessary to also consider the period of
450 years.

     Quoted from NIV

     Acts  13:16   Standing up, Paul motioned with his hand and said:
                   "Men of Israel and you Gentiles who worship God,
                   listen to me!
             :17   The God of the people of Israel chose our fathers;
                   he made the people prosper during their stay in
                   Egypt, with mighty power he led them out of that
             :18   he endured their conduct for about forty years in
                   the desert,
             :19   he overthrew seven nations in Canaan and gave their
                   land to his people as their inheritance.
             :20   All this took about 450 years.
             :21   After this, God gave them judges until the time
                   of Samuel the prophet.

     Quoted from NKJV

     Acts  13:19   And when He had destroyed seven nations in the
                   land of Canaan, He distributed their land to
                   them by allotment.
             :20   After that He gave them judges for about four
                   hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet.

The NIV rendering associates the 450 years with the period between
the choosing of the Fathers and the overthrow of the 7 nations.
The NKJV rendering associates the 450 years with the period between
the overthrow of the 7 nations and the arrival of Samuel.

The translations utilise two different received texts:

NIV  - "About years four hundred and fifty. And after these He gave
        judges until Samuel the prophet"

NKJV - "And after these about years four hundred and fifty He gave
        judges until Samuel the prophet."

The text used by the NKJV mentions the 450 years following 'And after'
so initially indicating association with the judges period, but it
also mentions the 450 years immediately following the word 'these'
and the word 'these' refers to the prior mentioned events.

This NKJV received text does seem to carry a degree of ambiguity,
which could have been removed by a few extra words, eg

  -  And after these which took about years four hundred and fifty,
     He gave judges until Samuel the prophet.


  -  And after these, about years four hundred and fifty passed during
     which he gave judges until Samuel the prophet.

It is interesting to note that the NKJV translation moves the word
'judges' forward in their translation. The NKJV translation chooses to
mention 'judges' prior to the mention of the 450 years. In doing they
remove any ambiguity and depict only the latter meaning.

However, despite concerns over which received text is reliable and
issues over translation, God's intended meaning becomes quite clear
when one considers 1Kings 6:1. 1Kings 6:1 states that a period of 480
years passed from the Exodus to the 4th year of Solomon.

Hence a period of 450 years from the defeat of the 7 nations to Samuel
is clearly seen as being far too long! To equate with the duration of
the 1Kings 6:1 period, one would have to add at least 47 years to the
start (wilderness + defeat of 7 nations) and 20 + 40 + 40 years to the
end (Samuel, Saul and David).
So the 450 years would become at least 597 years and therefore be in
excess of 117 years over the defined 1 Kings 6:1 480 years.

So in conclusion the 450 years in Acts chapter 13 must be referring to
the period between the Exodus and the defeat of the 7 nations.

The NIV translation correctly identifies the events associated with
450 years and the NKJV translation does not.

Upon reflection the structure of the period of 450 years is suggested
to be:

         Choosing of the Fathers to the Exodus        400
         Wandering in the wilderness                   40
         Destroying of the seven nations               10
                                                      450  Years

In summary, the main points concerning the twin periods of 400 years and
430 years can be listed as follows:

  400 YEARS  -  1) encompasses sojourning and bondage
                2) involves Abraham's descendants, Gen 15:13.
                3) ends with the Exodus, Acts 7:6-7 & 13:17-20.
                4) begins with the choosing of the fathers!
                   (NB: The 400 year period initiates the longer
                        450 year period and since the 450 years
                        starts with the choosing of the fathers,
                        then the choosing of the fathers must
                        also be the event which begins the 400

  430 YEARS  -  1) encompasses some time in Egypt
                2) ends with the Exodus, Exod 12:40.
                3) begins with an event that occurs shortly
                   after Passover. 
                   - ie, the same time of the year that Israel
                     left Egypt, Exod 12:41 'that very same day'.
                4) begins when the Abrahamic covenant was
                   'confirmed'! Gal 3:17.
                5) begins when the "sons of Israel" came into

Since both the 400 and 430 year periods end at the Exodus, it is apparent
their starting points are 30 years apart.

Unfortunately, even armed with this knowledge, determining the events which
initiate the 400 and 430 year periods is still difficult.

However, rather than at this point entering upon a lengthy analysis, for
the sake of brevity the starting points are simply stated.

  400 YEARS -  ***  The Birth of Jacob  ***

               The 'chose our fathers' in Acts chapter 13 is a
               reference to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
               The 'descendants' mentioned in Gen 15:13 and Acts 7:6
               were Isaac and Jacob.
               The selection of Jacob occurred at his birth, Gen 25:23.
               (At this time Isaac was 60 years old and Abraham was 160
               years old; Gen 25:26, 21:5.)

  430 YEARS -  ***  The Intended Sacrifice of Isaac  ***

               This event was a type of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ,
               which also occurred at Passover.
               Following the willingness of Abraham to offer his son
               God made the prior promises to Abraham unconditional!

                  Gen 22:16  ... "By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD,
                             because you have done this thing, and have
                             not withheld your son, your only son,
                        :17  in blessing I will bless you, and in
                             multiplying I will multiply your descendants
                             as the stars of the heaven and as the sand
                             which is on the seashore; and your descendants
                             shall possess the gate of their enemies.
                        :18  In your seed all the nations of the earth
                             shall be blessed, because you have obeyed
                             My voice."

               Consider also;

                     - Exod 32:13,   'You swore by Your own self'
                     - Heb 6:13,     'because He could swear by no one
                                      greater, He swore by Himself'.

               [ NB: The circumcision covenant, which is described
                     in chapter 17 of Genesis, did not cause the
                     the promises to Abraham to be unconditional. ]

               Although not dated this event would have occurred when
               Abraham was 130(160-30) years old! Isaac about 30 years
               of age, an adult!
The common, but ill-conceived,
portrayal of the intended
sacrifice falsely views Isaac
as a child.


1) Failing to recognise that the affliction suffered in Egypt never
   spanned the entire period.
   We only know for certain that the Israelites were afflicted the
   last 80 years (length of life of Moses prior to the Exodus).

2) Not noticing that the length of the stay in Egypt could not have
   exceeded 350 years (80 yrs + 137 yrs + 133 yrs).

   Moses at the time of the Exodus was 80 years old.
     Exod  7:7   And Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-
                 three years old when they spoke to Pharaoh.

   The father of Moses was Amram, who lived 137 years.
     Exod  6:20  Now Amram took for himself Jochebed, his father's
                 sister, as wife; and she bore him Aaron and Moses.
                 And the years of the life of Amram were one hundred
                 and thirty-seven.

   The father of Amram was Kohath, who lived 133 years.
     Exod  6:18  And the sons of Kohath were Amram, Izhar, Hebron,
                 and Uzziel. And the years of the life of Kohath were
                 one hundred and thirty-three.

   Kohath had already been born when Jacob entered Egypt.
     Gen  46:8   Now these were the names of the children of Israel,
                 Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: ...
            :11  The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari.

3) Placing too much emphasis upon the text of Exodus 12:40-41, without
   moderating it with the teaching of Galatians 3:17.

   In Exodus 12:40 the 'who lived in Egypt' statement should be
   considered a side comment and therefore not a clause which defined
   the period of 430 years.

   In Exodus 12:40 there appears to be two further aspects which would
   initially indicate a quite different timing.
   1) 'children of Israel'
      The word 'Israel' may be thought to refer to Jacob and this would
      lead to views which would try to allow at least two children of
      Jacob to be born before the 430 years began.
      Such an approach runs into difficulty with the above maximum
      allowance of 350 years in Egypt as Jacob entered Egypt being
      130 years old and did not have any children 80 years earlier,
      (ie before turning 50 years old).
      Therefore, rather than being a reference to Jacob, 'Israel'
      in Exodus 12:40 has to be a reference to the spiritual nation
      of Israel (ie sons/builders of the Promises).
   2) 'dwelling of the children of Israel'
      If this indicated a dwelling in one place, then that would be
      in Egypt. However, once again the maximum time of 350 years in
      Egypt would be a problem and not allow any interpretation which
      would desire a full 430 years in Egypt.
      While at first not obvious quality translations show the word
      'was' as in 'was four hundred and thirty year' has been added.
      One may at first wonder why the Hebrew sentence would not
      indicate the 'was' as the verse does require it.
      Looking back to the Strong's meaning of the Hebrew word for
      'dwelling' we can notice that in the definition, if used in
      an abstract manner, it could indicate abode not in a place,
      but abode in time. This seemingly would provide the necessary
      link to the 430 year time period without the need for a 'was'.
      So the meaning would be 'abode in time ... 430 years'.

4) Another common oversight maybe to try and decide on an interpretation
   of Exodus 12:40 without considering the impact on the derivation of
   a credible biblical chronology. Whether Israel actually spent between
   200-300 years in Egypt or 430 years in Egypt makes a huge difference
   to any compiled chronology. While biblical chronology may not be a
   subject studied in depth by many bible students it should be a factor
   considered before reaching a conclusion upon the meaning of the Exodus
   12:40 verse.

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Calling of
The Death
The Age of
Jacob when
Joseph was

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