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Genesis 15:13-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 Then He said to Abram: “Know for certain that your seed will be foreigners in a land not theirs and they shall serve them and they shall oppress them for four hundred years. 14 But also on the nation that they serve I will bring judgment, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. 16 And in the fourth generation shall return here, for the error of the Amorites is not yet complete.”
The 400-year oppression had to await the promised seed. Shortly after God’s statement about the 400 years of oppression, when Abraham was 86 years old (1932 B.C.E.), his Egyptian concubine gave birth to his son, Ishmael. However, it was 14 years later (1918 B.C.E.) that Sarah bore him a son, Isaac, and God chose this son as the one who would produce the coming promised seed. However, God’s time had not yet come for giving Abraham or his seed the land of Canaan, and so they were, as foretold, ‘strangers and exiles on the earth.’ – Genesis 16:15, 16; 21:2-5; Hebrews 11:13.
When did the 400 years of oppression begin, and when did it end? While Jewish tradition begins the 400 years at the birth of Isaac, the more accurate biblical evidence comes when Isaac is 5 years old, and Ishmael is 19, as the start of the oppression. It was “at that time he who was born according to the flesh [Ishmael] persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit [Isaac].” (Gal. 4:29) In distrust and detestation, Ishmael, who was part Egyptian, began “mocking.” (YLT, RSV, fn.) at Isaac, the young child, amounting to much more than a mere children’s quarrel. (Gen. 21:9) This incident occurred in 1846 B.C.E. Therefore, the 400-year period of oppression began in 1846 B.C.E. and ended at the exodus of 1446 B.C.E. The years of Solomon’s reign were 970 to 930 B.C.E.; and David’s, 1010 to 970 B.C.E. The exodus date, then, based on 1 Kings 6:1 and Judges 11:26, is 1446 B.C.E.
Support for the early date comes from the biblical record and archeological evidence. First, in 1 Kings 6:1 the time between the Exodus and the beginning of Solomon’s temple construction (in the fourth year of his reign) was 480 years. Since the fourth year of Solomon’s reign was 966 B.C., the Exodus was in 1446. Also in the time of Jephthah (ca. 1100 B.C.) Israel had been in the land for 300 years (Jud. 11:26). Therefore 300 years plus the 40 years of the wilderness sojourn and some time to conquer Heshbon places the Exodus in the middle of the 15th century.
Second, archeological evidence from Egypt during this period corresponds with the biblical account of the Exodus (see Merrill F. Unger, Archaeology and the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1954, pp. 140–5; and Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction. Chicago: Moody Press, 1964, pp. 215–6). For example, though Thutmose IV succeeded his father, Amenhotep II, Thutmose was not the eldest son. (The eldest son was killed by the Lord on the night of the first Passover, Ex. 12:29.) Amenhotep II (1450–1425 B.C.) repressed insurgents in the early part of his reign. Semites were forced to make bricks (cf. 5:7–18). Several of the Pharaohs of Egypt’s 18th dynasty (ca. 1567–1379 B.C.) were involved in building projects in northern Egypt. “Since Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaohs were very active in Palestinian campaigns, it would seem reasonable that they would have established garrisons and store cities (cf. 1:11) somewhere in the Delta regions to facilitate movement between Syro-Palestinian sites and Egypt itself” (John J. Davis, Moses and the Gods of Egypt, p. 27).
Third, events in Palestine about 1400 B.C. correspond with the Conquest under Joshua. Archeological evidence suggests that Jericho, Ai, and Hazor were destroyed about 1400. One scholar has concluded, “All the accredited Palestinian artifactual evidence supports the literary account that the Conquest occurred at the time specifically dated by the biblical historians” (Bruce K. Waltke, “Palestinian Artifactual Evidence Supporting the Early Date of the Exodus,” Bibliotheca Sacra 129. January–March, 1972:47).
The pharaohs named in the Bible are Shishak, So, Tirhakah, Nechoh, and Hophra. Some have considered Zerah the Cushite as a ruler of Egypt. Other pharaohs are left nameless. Because of the confused state of Egyptian chronology, it is not probable to connect these pharaohs to those of secular history with confidence. These nameless pharaohs include the one who tried to take Sarah (Gen. 12:15-20); the pharaoh who placed Joseph in authority (Gen. 41:39-46); and the pharaoh (or pharaohs) of the period of oppression of the Israelites before Moses’ return from Midian (Ex. chaps 1-2). And it also included the pharaoh ruling during the Ten Plagues and at the time of the Exodus (Ex. 5-14); the pharaoh who gave refuge to Hadad of Edom in David’s time (1 Ki 11:18-22); the father of the Egyptian wife of Solomon (1 Ki 3:1); and the pharaoh who struck down Gaza during the time of the prophet Jeremiah. – Jeremiah 47:1.
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 That is, offspring or descendants
 Or aliens, strangers, sojourners
 Israel would become enslaved to the Egyptians.
 The Eqyptians would appress the Israelites, who would become their slaves some four hundred years later.
 That is, the Israelites
 That is, has not yet reached its full measure
 John D. Hannah, “Exodus,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 104.
by W. Clair Tisdall