Here’s another letter pointing out a possible error and an overlooked fact.
I have really enjoyed using the Bible Timeline along with my studies, and appreciate this awesome resource. It really helps to have a clearer picture of all of the events and how they relate to one another. Thank you for the PDF version of the timeline. This is a great bonus!
I know that the timeline states that there may be inconsistencies due to a number of different factors, but I was curious about one in particular and hoping you could explain it to me.
The last verse of Genesis states that Joseph lived for a hundred and ten years, and I notice on the timeline that there is not a definite point marking his death. Then in Exodus 12:40 it says that the Israelites lived in Egypt for a total of 430 years to the day when Moses lead them out. On the timeline there is only about 200 years between the time when they came to Egypt and the Exodus of Moses. This seems like a big discrepency, and I’m am interested to know why this doesn’t appear to line up with scripture. I understand the enormous task of trying to put all of this information on a single resource, and I know it can’t be 100% accurate due to conflicts in the historical record. I was just hoping you could help clear this up for me.
Here’s our response: The dating of the time in Egypt – either 215 or 430 years – is one point of contention among those striving to develop a Biblical chronology.
We used James Ussher’s chronology for our biblical dates. As you know, his chronology is the most widely accepted. The question becomes why did he place the dates when he did. Bishop Ussher worked with a variety of biblical manuscripts and historical resources. The verse you mention does say the Israelites lived in Egypt for 430 years in the Masoretic text.
Other manuscripts (the Samaritan Pentateuch and the Septuagint) add the words “and Canaan” after Egypt in the above quote, so that it reads “the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt and Canaan was 430 years”. This makes the beginning of the 430 year period when Abraham arrived in Canaan. This is 215 years earlier than Jacob’s arrival in Egypt, and would shorten the Israelites’ period in Egypt to 215 years (215 + 215 = 430). This was the view taken by James Ussher.
However, in Acts 7:6, Stephen states that Abraham’s descendants were to be “enslaved and mistreated four hundred years”. But then in Galatians 3:16-17 Paul makes reference to a 430 year period from Abraham leaving Haran to Moses receiving “The Law”. As you can see biblical chronologists work to coordinate all the verses and use multiple sources. I hope this makes sense.As to Joseph’s death, we’ve made a note to include that on our next update.
We appreciate any and all feedback on the Amazing Bible Timeline. Each reprinting includes suggestions for enhancements so please keep sending them.