[b-hebrew] Israel "in" Egypt 215 or 430 years ?

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu Aug 19 17:55:26 EDT 2004


On 19/08/2004 21:31, Walter R. Mattfeld wrote:

>...
>
>But the primary evidence seems to favor a longer sojourn of 430 years. First
>and foremost, the Hebrew text asserts that the Israelites spent 430 years in
>Egypt (Exodus 12:40-41); and, as Leon Wood states, the Hebrew text must be
>favored over later versions. Second, God told Abraham in Genesis 15:13 that
>his descendants would be afflicted in a foreign land for 400 years. ...
>  
>

Well, let's get back to some real Hebrew for a change, and some textual 
criticism of the Hebrew Bible.

Exodus 12:40:

BHS text: W.MOW$AB B.:N"Y YI&:RF)"L ):A$ER YF$:BW. B.:MIC:RFYIM $:LO$IYM 
$FNFH W:)AR:B.A( M")OWT $FNFH

BHS footnote a: after YI&:RF)"L, some Greek MSS and the Samaritan 
Pentateuch add WA):ABOTFM

BHS footnote b: Samaritan Pentateuch reads ... B.:)EREC K.:NA(AN 
W.B:)EREC MIC:RFYIM ... , compare with the Greek

Rahlfs LXX: hH DE KATOIKHSIS TWN hUIWN ISRAHL, hHN KATWiKHSAN EN THi 
AIGUPTWi KAI EN THi CANAAN (AUTOI KAI hOI PATERES AUTWN), ETH TETRAKOSIA 
TRIAKONTA (bracketed words are in Alexandrinus only I think)
"The residence of the sons/descendants of Israel which they resided in 
Egypt and in Canaan (they and their fathers) four hundred and thirty years"

Here we have an apparent agreement of LXX and Samaritan against BHS, 
which must be taken seriously. But then LXX and Samaritan differ in the 
order of "Egypt" and "Canaan", which casts some doubt on this, and the 
WA):ABOTFM looks rather like a late addition to get round the objection 
that Abraham and Isaac could not be called sons/descendants of Israel. 
So the textual decision here could go either way.

Amazingly, HOTTP does not consider this point. NRSV also follows MT 
without comment (although it is usually rather sceptical about MT), 
although NIV puts the LXX and Sam reading in a footnote.

Genesis 15:13: Here I won't bother with the textual details as there is 
no difficulty. But we should remember that Abraham was already a 
stranger in a country not his own, so this 400 year period can easily be 
understood as starting from that time. True, they were not at this time 
enslaved or mistreated, but in the Hebrew the timescale refers to all 
three preceding clauses without implying that all three will be 
simultaneously true for all of the time.

So I would consider the issue entirely open, whether the 430 (or 400) 
years is from Abraham to Moses or from the move to Egypt until Moses. 
The chronology is not tied down either way.

-- 
Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)
http://www.qaya.org/






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