In Genesis chapter 15, God promises that Abraham’s offspring (through the lineage of Isaac and Jacob) will inherit the land “…from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates…” (verse 18).
We know that God is not discussing the descendants of Ishmael, but of Isaac, because in verse 13 He states “…know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them: and they shall afflict them for 400 years…” The land that God was talking about is Egypt, where Jacob’s seed, from the line of Isaac, not Ishmael, would go.
In verse 14, God tells Abraham that those descendants will stay in Egypt and serve them, but God will judge Egypt and the people will come out in great wealth- “And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance [possessions]”
In verse 15, God tells Abraham “And thou shalt go to thy father’s in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age”
And finally, in verse 16, God tells Abraham the reason why the children of Israel will sojourn in Egypt until the 4th generation (i.e., 400 years):
“But in the fourth generation they shall come hither [Canaan] again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full [complete]”
Let’s see how accurate God was in his promise to Abraham:
In Genesis 37:2, Joseph is 17 years old when he tells the dream of his brother’s bowing down to him:
“…Joseph, being seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his bretheren…”
And immediately afterwards, the brother’s sell Joseph into slavery (Genesis 37:12 – 36)
When Joseph is made day-to-day ruler over Egypt, he is 30 years old:
“…And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt…” (Genesis 41:46)
The 7 years of famine began when Joseph was 37 years old (the 7 years of plenty came first), and when Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy corn (Genesis 41:49 – 57, 42:1 – 5)
After testing the brothers, Joseph tells them to bring Jacob and the rest of the family to Egypt during the 2nd year of leanness (Genesis 45:6 – 10), at which time Joseph was 39 -40 years of age.
So, when Israel comes into Egypt, Joseph has been there approximately 22 years. (i.e., Joseph comes to Egypt ~17 years old, and commands that the brethren bring the family to Egypt when he is 39 years old).
Jacob was 130 years old when they come into Egypt (Genesis 47:9) and dies at the age of 147 (Genesis 47:28), so at the time of his death, Joseph would be 56 years of age. The descendant’s of Jacob then, have been in Egypt for ~30 years at the time of his death.
Joseph then dies at the age of 110 years of age (Genesis 50:26). This meant that at the time of his death, the tribe of Israel had sojourned in Egypt 70 years (the entire clan) or 93 years if you count when Joseph first came to Egypt.
Since we know the Lord God told Abraham that his descendants would be sojourning in Egypt, and then serving the Egyptians 400 years, and Exodus 12:40 states “Now the sojourning [time of stay] of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.“, what would the 30 years difference be? The difference is that the first 30 years after Joseph had died, the children of Israel were still in favor with the Egyptians. But, a new King arose which did not know Joseph (i.e., had not dealt with Joseph), and thus begins to afflict them. (Exodus 1:7-11). Thus, God’s prophecy to Abraham was fullfilled.
But what of the Amorites, whom God said were given the 400 years period to bring their wickedness to the full? The Amorites were the inhabitants of Canaan, originally Syrians (see Deuteronomy Chapter 4: Warnings of the future for a full discussion of who the Amorite people were and the wickedness they entailed).
So, God was willing to keep the people of Israel in Egypt, to allow the wickedness of the inhabitants in Canaan, the future promised land of Israel, to either repent or not. THIS IS WHY GOD DEMANDS THAT THE INHABITANTS of the future Israel be totally wiped out. This is the judgement after giving the Amorites 400 years to repent. Unfortunately, the nation of Israel also failed to execute the command of God to rid the land of the wickedness (see The Book of Joshua and the destruction of Hazor (Part 1) thru part 4). And, because of this, the Jewish people fell more and more into idolatry, doing the worst possible sins against God including child sacrifice. This would lead to the exile, and destruction of the first Temple. Out of this would come the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who would once and for all “rent the vail in two” and settle the path to God as the Way, the Truth, and the Life (
So when people say the God of the Old Testament was evil and hateful, they do not know what they are talking about. He gave the wicked descendants of the Nephilim (Giants who were the children of the fallen ones) 400 years to do away with their wickedness…and was equally unforgiving of the same wickedness the Jew’s became ensnared in…how many would YOU have given them?