on Acts 7 :6
That his seed should sojourn in a strange land - See Genesis 15:13, Genesis 15:14.
Four hundred years - Moses says, Exodus 12:40, that the sojourning of the children of Israel in Egypt - was 430 years. See the note there. St. Paul has the same number, Galatians 3:17; and so has Josephus, Ant. lib. ii. cap. 1, sect. 9; in Bell. lib. v. cap. 9, sect. 4. St. Stephen uses the round number of 400, leaving out the odd tens, a thing very common, not only in the sacred writers, but in all others, those alone excepted who write professedly on chronological matters.
on Acts 7 :6
And God spake on this wise - In this manner, Genesis 15:13-14.
His seed - His posterity; his descendants.
Should sojourn - This means that they would have a "temporary residence there." The word is used in opposition to a fixed, permanent home, and is applied to travelers, or foreigners.
In a strange land - In the Hebrew Gen 15:13, "Shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs." The land of Canaan and the land of Egypt were strange lands to them, though the obvious reference here is to the latter.
Should bring them into bondage - Or, would make them slaves, Exodus 1:11.
And entreat them evil - Would oppress or afflict them.
Four hundred years - This is the precise time which is mentioned by Moses, Genesis 15:13. Great perplexity has been experienced in explaining this passage, or reconciling it with other statements. In Exodus 12:40, it is said that their sojourning in Egypt was 430 years. Josephus (Antiq., book 2, chapter 9, section 1) also says that the time in which they were in Egypt was 400 years; though in another place (Antiq., book 2, chapter 15, section 2) he says that they left Egypt f 430 years after their forefather, Abraham, came to Canaan, but 215 years after Jacob removed to Egypt. Paul also Galatians 3:17 says that it was 430 years from the time when the promise was given to Abraham to the time when the Law was given on Mount Sinai. The Samaritan Pentateuch also says Exodus 12:40 that the "dwelling of the sons of Israel, and of their fathers, which they dwelt "in the land of Canaan," and in the land of Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years."
The same is the version of the Septuagint. "A part" of this perplexity is removed by the fact that Stephen and Moses use, in accordance with a very common custom, "round numbers" in speaking of it, and thus speak of 400 years when the literal time was 430. The other perplexities are not so easily removed. From the account which Moses has given of the lives of certain persons, it would seem clear that the time which they spent in "Egypt" was not 400 years. From Genesis 46:8, Genesis 46:11, it appears that "Kohath" was born when Jacob went into Egypt. He lived 133 years, Exodus 6:18. Amram, his son, and the father of Moses lived 137 years, Exodus 6:20. Moses was 80 years old when he was sent to Pharaoh, Exodus 7:7. The whole time thus mentioned, including the time in which the father lived after his son was born, was only 350 years. Exclusive of that, it is reasonable to suppose that the actual time of their being in Egypt could not have been but about 200 years, according to one account of Josephus. The question then is, how can these accounts be reconciled? The only satisfactory way is by supposing that the 430 years includes the whole time from the calling of Abraham to the departure from Egypt. And that this was the fact is probable from the following circumstances:
(1) The purpose of all the narratives on this subject is to trace the period before they became finally settled in the land of Canaan. During all this period from the calling of Abraham, they were in a wandering, unfixed situation. This constituted substantially one period, including all their oppressions, hardships, and dangers; and it was natural to have reference to this "entire" period in any account which was given.
(2) all this period was properly the period of "promise," not of "possession." In this respect the wanderings of Abraham and the oppressions of Egypt came under the same general description.
(3) Abraham was himself occasionally in Egypt. He was unsettled; and since Egypt was so pre-eminent in all their troubles, it was natural to speak of all their oppressions as having occurred in that country. The phrase "residence in Egypt," or "in a strange land," would come to be synonymous, and would denote all their oppressions and trials. They would speak of their sufferings as having been endured in Egypt, because their afflictions there were so much more prominent than before.
(4) all this receives countenance from the version of the Septuagint, and from the Samaritan text, showing the manner in which the ancient Jews were accustomed to understand it.
(5) it should be added, that difficulties of chronology are more likely to occur than any others; and it should not be deemed strange if there are perplexities of this kind found in ancient writings which we cannot explain. It is so in all ancient records; and all that is usually expected in relation to such difficulties is that we should be able to present a "probable" explanation.
on Acts 7 :6
7:6 Gen 15:13.