Chronology from Abraham to the Exodus
I am fascinated by numbers. I really enjoy seeing charts telling different statistics such as quantities, quality ratings, dates, and percentages. Numbers can tell us so many things. They are great for providing summaries and outlines as well. When one speaks of a large period of time it is nice to have a beginning and an ending date with some other key time periods thrown in. In this article I will provide a chronology of the time from Abraham to the Exodus along with some other important dates within that period.
Counting from Solomon Backwards
Let's start at the time of King Solomon and work our way backwards. There are a few different beliefs as to when Solomon started his reign over Israel. The outside dates range from approximately 1033 B.C. to 970 B.C. These estimates have come from a lot smarter people than me yet there is still about a 60 year range. With that in mind, let's strike a happy medium and say that Solomon's reign began around 1,000 B.C. After all, I don’t want anyone to quote the dates that I am proposing here as 100% certain facts, but they are going to be good estimates. So let's begin our journey.
|We are told in 1 Kings 6:1 that "It was in mid-spring, during the fourth year of Solomon's reign, that he began the construction of the Temple of the LORD. This was 480 years after the people of Israel were delivered from their slavery in the land of Egypt" (NIV). This would place the exodus at 1480 B.C. on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is Nisan the 15th. The crossing of the Red Sea took place three days later on the Feast of First Fruits.
When Did the Israelites Enter Egypt?
Our next key point to discover is when did the Israelites enter Egypt? Exodus 12:40-42 tells us "The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years. In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the LORD's forces left the land. On this night the LORD kept his promise to bring his people out of the land of Egypt. So this night belongs to him, and it must be commemorated every year by all the Israelites, from generation to generation" (NIV). The Israelites, therefore, entered Egypt 430 years earlier, or in 1910 B.C.
Let's discuss the thought of "when the Israelites entered Egypt" a little more. Abraham's father Terah took Abraham, his wife Sarai and his grandson Lot and they "set out from Ur of the land of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. When they came to Haran which was still on the east side of the Euphrates, they decided to settle there (Gen. 11:31). After Abraham's father Terah died, which was in Haran (Gen. 12:32, Acts 7:2), God sent Abraham to Canaan (Acts 7:3). Abraham then left Haran, crossed to the west side of the Euphrates River and entered Canaan, which was under Egyptian control. This appears to be the date that inaugurated his covenant with God. This was 430 years before the Israelites left Egypt. Exodus 12:40-42 tells us that it was 430 years, to the day that the family of Israel lived in Egypt. This means that Abraham crossed over into Canaan on what would become the first Day of Unleavened Bread just as the Israelites triumphantly marched out of Egypt on the first Day of Unleavened Bread.
Abraham was 75 when he left Haran (Gen. 12:4). Therefore Abraham had to be born 75 years prior to the crossing into Canaan, which would place Abraham's birth at 1985 B.C.
Dates of Abraham's Kin
Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born (Gen. 21:5). This would mean that Isaac was born in 1885 B.C. Jacob and Esau (twins) were born when Isaac was 60, or in 1825 B.C (Gen. 25:26).
To determine the date of Joseph's birth we once again need to count backward. In Gen. 47:8-9 we read of Pharaoh addressing Jacob, "'How old are you?' Pharaoh asked him. Jacob replied, 'I have traveled this earth for 130 hard years. But my life has been short compared to the lives of my ancestors.'" Since Jacob was born in 1825 B.C., this statement can be placed at 1695 B.C. There were five years of famine left when Jacob entered Egypt (Gen. 45:11). We know that seven years of plenty preceded the famine so by that reasoning the years of abundance would have started in 1704 B.C..
Joseph was thirty years old when Pharaoh made him the second-in-charge over his kingdom which was accompanied by the start of the seven years of abundance (Gen. 41:26). So Joseph would have been thirty in 1704 B.C., meaning that he would have been born in 1734 B.C.
Gen. 30:25-26 tells us that "Soon after Rachel had given birth to Joseph, Jacob said to Laban, 'Please release me so I can go home to my own country. Let me take my wives and children, for I have earned them by serving you, and let me be on my way. You certainly know how hard I have worked for you'" (NIV). This tells us that it was right near or after the fourteen years of working for his Uncle Laban that Jacob and Rachel bore Joseph. That means that Jacob started working for Laban in 1748 B.C., fourteen years before Joseph's birth.
A summary of what we have just covered looks like this.
|Abraham crosses the Euphrates River into
Egyptian controlled land
|Jacob and Esau's birth
|Jacob started working for Laban
|| 1734 B.C.
|Jacob made second-in-charge, years of plenty start
|Famine in Egypt started
Granted, these years may not be exactly correct, but they give a good estimate as to the timing from Abraham to the Exodus.
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