Proof that Israel wasn't afflicted for 400 years?




I have been studying about the duration of the Israelites' bondage in Egypt, and I have found that most of them say there could be generation skip, such as "How Long Was the Egyptian Bondage?". The problem is Bible scholars don’t take into account certain verses which are very important to this study.

We all know Levi and Joseph were brothers, being sons of Jacob. The lineage of Levi to Moses, given in Exodus 6:16-20 is:

  1. Levi
  2. Kohath
  3. Amram
  4. Moses

The lineage of Joseph to Zelophehad's daughters given in Numbers 26:28-33 is:

  1. Joseph
  2. Manasseh
  3. Machir
  4. Gilead
  5. Hepher
  6. Zelophehad
  7. Zelophehad's five daughters

Genesis 50:23 also states: "Joseph saw Ephraim's children to the third generation. The children of Machir, the son of Manasseh, were also brought up on Joseph's knees." So while Joseph was alive, all was well for the children of Israel; that includes Amram, the father of Moses.

Yet, Moses and the daughters of Zelophehad were contemporaries according to Numbers 27:1-7. Therefore, these verses prove that the affliction period of the Israelites was not 400 years. Can anyone prove there was a generation skipped?

In understanding the Bible, clear statements are given precedence over complex arguments. "Then He said to Abram: "Know certainly that 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). "But God spoke in this way: that his descendants would dwell in a foreign land, and that they would bring them into bondage and oppress them four hundred years" (Acts 7:6). Therefore, I would conclude that you did not prove that the period of affliction was not 400 years. The article "How Long Was the Egyptian Bondage?" also deals with three other verses which taken together with the two just cited indicates that the time spent in Egypt by Israel was 430 years. The clearest one states, "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).

You noted that Joseph lived to see his great-grandchildren, which is reasonable since Joseph lived to be 110 years old (Genesis 50:22). But you make an unprovable assumption that Amram or Moses were born before Joseph died. Yes, Amram is of the third generation and Moses of the fourth in the genealogies given, but you didn't take into account that people in different branches of families live different life spans. It is not unusual to hear even today of people who are older than their aunt or uncle. Given that Israel had a large number of children each generation (Exodus 1:7), this situation would be more common.

Numbers 27:3 states that Zelophehad died in the wilderness, thus he was a contemporary of Moses, but his lineage has two additional generations recorded. We don't know the life spans of his ancestors nor the ages when the children were born. Thus, beyond noting that Moses and Zelophehad were contemporaries, we cannot prove the length of the bondage by this means. If anything, the differences in the number of generations raises another possibility that Moses' lineage is not complete.