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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 7 - Verse 6

Verse 6. And God spake on this wise. In this manner, Ge 15:13,14.

His seed. His posterity; his descendants.

Should sojourn. This means that they should have a temporary residence there. The word is used in opposition to a fixed, permanent home, and is applied to travellers or foreigners.

In a strange land. In the Hebrew, (Ge 15:13,) "Shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs." The land of Canaan and the land of Egypt were to them strange lands, though the obvious reference here is to the latter.

Should bring them into bondage. Or, should make them slaves, Ex 1:11.

And entreat them evil. Should oppress or afflict them.

Four hundred years. This is the precise time which is mentioned by Moses, Ge 15:13. Great perplexity has been experienced in explaining this passage, or reconciling it with other statements. In Ex 12:40, it is said that their sojourning in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. Josephus (Antiq. b. ii.chap. ix. 2 ]) also says, that the time in which they were in Egypt was four hundred years; though in another place (Antiq. b. ii. chap. xv. & 2) he says, that they left Egypt four hundred and thirty years after their forefather Abraham came to Canaan, but two hundred and fifteen years after Jacob removed to Egypt. Paul also (Ga 3:17) says, that it was four hundred and thirty years from the time when the promise was given to Abraham to the time when the law was given on Mount Sinai. The Samaritan Pentateuch says also, (Ex 12:40,) that the "dwelling of the sons of Israel, and of their fathers, which they dwelt in the land of Canaan, and in the land of Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years." The same is the version of the Septuagint. A part of this perplexity is removed by the fact that Stephen and Moses use, in accordance with a very common custom, round numbers in speaking of it; and thus speak of four hundred years, when the literal time was four hundred and thirty. The other perplexities are not so easily removed. From the account which Moses has given of the lives of certain persons, it would seem clear that the time which they spent in Egypt was not four hundred years. From Ge 46:8,11, it appears that Kohath was born when Jacob went into Egypt. He lived one hundred and thirty-three years, Ex 6:18. Amram, his son, and the father of Moses, lived one hundred and thirty-seven years, Ex 6:20. Moses was eighty years old when he was sent to Pharoah, Ex 7:7. The whole time thus mentioned, including the time in which the father lived after his son was born, was only three hundred and fifty years. Exclusive of that, it is reasonable to suppose that the actual time of their being in Egypt could not have been but about two hundred years, according to one account of Josephus. The question then is, how can these accounts be reconciled? The only satisfactory way is, by supposing that the four hundred and thirty years includes the whole time from the calling of Abraham to the departure from Egypt. And that this was the fact is probable from the following circumstances:

(1.) The purpose of all the narratives on this subject is to trace the period before they became finally settled in the land of Canaan. During all this period from the calling of Abraham, they were in a wandering, unfixed situation. This constituted substantially one period, including all their oppressions, hardships, and dangers; and it was natural to have reference to this entire period in any account which was given.

(2.) All this period was properly the period of promise, not of possession. In this respect, the wanderings of Abraham and the oppressions of Egypt came under the same general description.

(3.) Abraham was himself occasionally in Egypt. He was unsettled; and since Egypt was so pre-eminent in all their troubles, it was natural to speak of all their oppressions as having occurred in that country. The phrase, "residence in Egypt," or" in a strange land," would come to be synonymous, and would denote all their oppressions and trials. They would speak of their sufferings as having been endured in Egypt, because their afflictions there were so much more prominent than before.

(4.) All this receives countenance from the version of the LXX., and from the Samaritan text, showing the manner in which the ancient Jews were accustomed to understand it.

(5.) It should be added, that difficulties of chronology are more likely to occur than any others; and it should not be deemed strange if there are perplexities of this kind found in ancient writings which we cannot explain. It is so in all ancient records; and all that is usually expected in relation to such difficulties is, that we should be able to present a probable explanation.

{+} "on this wise" "In this manner" {c} "that his seed" Ge 15:13,16 {++} "strange land" "Foreign" {*} "evil" "Afflict them" {d} "four hundred years" Ex 12:40,41

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