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Good Morning.

Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 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. (Exodus 12:40-41)

This verse has been the source of some consternation for those who study the Bible and try to calculate Israel’s stay in Egypt according to the genealogies. The problem is that  the genealogies recorded seem to indicate Israel was in Egypt 210 years. Adding to the conundrum is the fact that Abraham was told “your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13). 

There is a way to reconcile all of this if one reads carefully. For instance, Exodus 12 says the sojourn of Israel who were, at that time, living in Egypt was 430 years; not that they had lived in Egypt for 430 years. The 400 years that Abraham was told about couldn’t begin until he had descendants and according to tradition, Isaac was born on 15 Aviv, 400 years — to the day — prior to their departure. While all of this is interesting, the main point today is not so much that we are able — after the fact — to resolve the riddle of the 430 years; it is to highlight the fact that it is very difficult to interpret certain prophecies before they are fulfilled. In other words, most biblical prophecies can’t be fully understood until they come to pass. 

To accentuate this point, there is a legend in Judaism that tells of how 30,000 people from the tribe of Ephraim left Egypt thirty years prior to the main Exodus. According to the legend, all of these people died in the wilderness. The problem was this; because they miscalculated they got ahead of God and subsequently perished. While we could say they had noble intentions – they believed in God’s promise of deliverance — nevertheless, they did things in their own strength. 

It is very important to study the Bible including the prophecies contained within but it is equally important to remember that we should not make plans based exclusively on our interpretation of it. It doesn’t necessarily come to pass in the way we think it will; it always comes to pass just as it is written. And so as we look forward to our redemption, let us keep in mind that things may not happen just as we imagine they would. Most likely, we will not fully understand until all these things are fulfilled. However, we can be certain that the promise of Redemption will come true and, so until that day, let us continue to occupy and keep looking up.


Blessings and Shalom,  






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