ExileAid to Bible Understanding
17; 18:1, 4, 19) Many Jews lived in Babylon, where Peter preached. (1 Pet. 5:13) Josephus records that “great numbers” of Jews were in Babylonia in the first century B.C.E. (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XV, chap. II, par. 2) Early in 50 C.E. the Roman Emperor Claudius banished all the Jews from Rome. This also affected Jews who had become Christians, among them Aquila and Priscilla (Prisca), whom Paul met in Corinth about 50 C.E., shortly after the edict by Claudius. (Acts 18:2) They accompanied Paul to Ephesus, and at the time he wrote the letter to the Romans (c. 56 C.E.) they were evidently back in Rome, for Claudius had died and Nero was then ruling. Many of the other Jews had also moved back to Rome.—Acts 18:18, 19; Rom. 16:3, 7, 11.
In fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy at Luke 21:24, the Roman army under Titus, in 70 C.E., surrounded Jerusalem, crowded with Jews from many lands assembled for the Festival of Unfermented Cakes. The Romans besieged and finally destroyed the city; 1,100,000 Jews perished and 97,000 were taken captive, to be scattered among the nations.
ExodusAid to Bible Understanding
The deliverance of the nation of Israel from bondage to Egypt. Jehovah spoke to Abraham (before 1933 B.C.E.), after promising that Abraham’s seed would inherit the land, and said: “You may know for sure that your seed will become an alien resident in a land not theirs, and they will have to serve them, and these will certainly afflict them for four hundred years. But the nation that they will serve I am judging, and after that they will go out with many goods. . . . But in the fourth generation they will return here, because the error of the Amorites has not yet come to completion.”—Gen. 15:13-16.
It is clear that the beginning of the four-hundred-year period of affliction had to await the appearance of the promised “seed.” While Abraham had earlier visited Egypt during a time of famine in Canaan and had experienced some difficulties with the Pharaoh there, he was then childless. (Gen. 12:10-20) Not long after God’s statement about the four hundred years of affliction, when Abraham was eighty-six years old (in the year 1932 B.C.E.), his Egyptian slave girl and concubine bore him a son, Ishmael. But it was fourteen years later (1918 B.C.E.) that Abraham’s free wife Sarah bore him a son, Isaac, and God designated this son as the one by means of whom the promised seed would result. Still, God’s time had not yet arrived for giving Abraham or his seed the Land of Canaan, and so they were, as foretold, ‘alien residents in a land not theirs.’—Gen. 16:15, 16; 21:2-5; Heb. 11:13.
TIME OF THE EXODUS
When, therefore, did the four hundred years of affliction begin? Jewish tradition reckons the count from Isaac’s birth. But the actual evidence of affliction first came on the day that Isaac was weaned. Evidence points to 1913 B.C.E., when Isaac was about five years old and Ishmael about nineteen, as the date of the start of affliction. It was then that Ishmael “the one born in the manner of flesh began persecuting the one born in the manner of spirit.” (Gal. 4:29) Ishmael, who was part Egyptian, in jealousy and hatred, began “poking fun” at Isaac, the very young child, this amounting to much more than a mere children’s quarrel. (Gen. 21:9) Other translations describe Ishmael’s action as “mocking” (Yg; Ro, ftn.) The affliction of Abraham’s seed continued on during Isaac’s life. While Jehovah blessed Isaac as a grown man, he was nevertheless persecuted by the inhabitants of Canaan and forced to move from place to place because of the difficulties they brought against him. (Gen. 26:19-24, 27) Eventually, during the later years of the life of Isaac’s son Jacob, the foretold “seed” came into Egypt to reside. In time they came into a state of slavery.
The four-hundred-year period of affliction thus ran from 1913 B.C.E. until 1513 B.C.E. It was also a “period of grace” or of divine toleration allowed the Canaanites, a principal tribe of whom were Amorites. By this latter date their error would come to completion; they would clearly merit complete ejection from the land. As the preliminary step toward such ejection, God would turn his attention to his people in Egypt, setting them free from bondage and starting them on the way back to the Promised Land.
The 430-year period
Another line of calculation is provided in the statement at Exodus 12:40, 41: “And the dwelling of the sons of Israel, who had dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years. And it came about at the end of the four hundred and thirty years, it even came about on this very day that all the armies of Jehovah went out of the land of Egypt.” The footnote on Exodus 12:40 (NW, 1953 ed.) says regarding the expression “who had dwelt”: “The verb here is in the plural number, and the relative pronoun (a·sherʹ) before it in Hebrew can apply to the ‘sons of Israel,’ rather than to the ‘dwelling.’” The Septuagint Version renders verse 40: “But the dwelling of the sons of Israel which they dwelt in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan [was] four hundred and thirty years long.” The Samaritan Pentateuch reads: “In the land of Canaan and in the land of Egypt.” All these renderings indicate that the four-hundred-and-thirty-year period covers a longer period of time than the dwelling of the Israelites in Egypt.
The apostle Paul shows that this four-hundred-and-thirty-year period (at Exodus 12:40) began at the time of the validation of the Abrahamic covenant and ended with the Exodus. Paul says: “Further, I say this: As to the [Abrahamic] covenant previously validated by God, the Law that has come into being four hundred and thirty years later [in the same year as the Exodus] does not invalidate it, so as to abolish the promise. . . . whereas God has kindly given it to Abraham through a promise.”—Gal. 3:16-18.
How long was it, then, from the validation of the Abrahamic covenant until the Israelites moved into Egypt? At Genesis 12:4, 5 we find that Abraham was seventy-five years old when he moved into Canaan, and the Abrahamic covenant, the promise previously made to him in Ur of the Chaldeans, took effect. Then, from the genealogical references at Genesis 12:4; 21:5; 25:26 and Jacob’s statement at Genesis 47:9, it can be seen that 215 years elapsed between the validation of the Abrahamic covenant and the move of Jacob with his family into Egypt. This would show that the Israelites actually lived in Egypt 215 years (1728-1513 B.C.E.). The figure harmonizes with other chronological data.
From Exodus to temple building
Two other chronological statements harmonize with and substantiate this viewpoint. Solomon began the building of the temple in his fourth year of kingship (1034 B.C.E.) and this is stated at 1 Kings 6:1 to be the “four hundred and eightieth year” from the time of the Exodus (1513 B.C.E.).
“About 450 years”
Then there is Paul’s speech to an audience in Antioch of Pisidia recorded at Acts 13:17-20 in which he refers to a period of “about four hundred and fifty years.” His discussion of Israelite history begins with the time God “chose our forefathers,” that is, from the time that Isaac was actually born to be the seed of promise (1918 B.C.E.). (Isaac’s birth definitely settled the question as to whom God would recognize as the seed, this having been in doubt due to Sarah’s barrenness.) From this starting point Paul then goes on to recount God’s acts in behalf of his chosen nation down to the time when God “gave them judges until Samuel the prophet.” The period of “about four hundred and fifty years,” therefore,