Thursday, September 15, 2016

Length of the Egyptian Sojourn: An Ongoing Discussion

Just in case you thought the obscure chronological details that so concerned ancient scribes were no longer of interest, a new article in the Jewish Bible Quarterly is trying to reinvigorate the debate over how long the Egyptian sojourn was. In How Long Was the Sojourn in Egypt: 210 or 430 Years? David Gadeloff revives discussion on a challenging interpretive problem based on apparent inconsistencies between the genealogies (which suggest a period of time shorter than 430 years) and the number of years the Israelites were said to have been in Egypt. Exodus 12:40 in the Masoretic text and 4Q14(?) say that Israel was in Egypt for 430 years. Gadeloff opposes the traditional rabbinic view that these 430 actually included time when Israel was still in Canaan, suggesting instead that it should be taken literally. Unfortunately, Gadeloff does not deal with textual evidence from the Samaritan Pentateuch and Septuagint, which explicitly state that the 430 years include time in Canaan. This popular interpretation--found in, for example, Demetrius, Frag. 2 §16-19; Josephus, Ant. 2.318; Galatians 3:17--actually found its way into significant parts of the manuscript tradition as a scribal harmonization. Truly an interesting textual variant! :)

HT Agade

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