## How large did Jacob's family grow in Egypt?

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- Parent Category: FAQs
- Category: Bible Questions and Answers - other
- Published on Thursday, 19 November 2009 10:54

When they arrived in Egypt, the descendants of Jacob numbered 70 (Exodus 1:5), not counting Joseph and his two sons, or the family's marriage partners. The "population growth rate" from the time Jacob received his wives was at least 7%. With only a 5% rate of growth, the population after 430 years would be almost 200 million.

This is one reason to take another look at the 430 year figure in Exodus 12:40. This figure and the 400 years of sojourning and persecution in Genesis 15:13 must be understood with Paul's figure of 430 years from the promise of blessing through Abram's Seed until the giving of the law (Galatians 3:17).

If we identify the beginning point of this period with Genesis 12:1-7, Abram was 75. 25 years takes us to the birth of Isaac (21:5), 60 more years to the birth of Jacob (25:26), and an additional 130 years to Jacob's arrival in Egypt (47:9). That's 215 years (25 + 60 + 130).

A 5% growth rate for the remaining 215 years of the total 430 years comes to around 2.5 million, a more reasonable figure. The following figures lend support to this.

According to Exodus 6:16-20, 4 generations (see Genesis 15:16) span the time from Jacob's entering Egypt until the Exodus: Levi, Kohath, Amram, Moses. Since Moses was 80 at the time of the Exodus (Exodus 7:7), that brings the total years to 295.

When Jacob entered Egypt at 130, Joseph was 39. He had become governor at 30 (Genesis 41:46), and after 7 years of plenty, his brothers came for corn in the second year of famine (45:6). Joseph was born, therefore, when Jacob was 91 (130 minus 39), at the end of Jacob's 14 years of service for Rachel and Leah (30:25; 31:38). At the time of Joseph's birth, Jacob had been married to Leah 7 years (29:21-22,25); he was 84 when married. Levi was Leah's third son, so Jacob would have been about 87 at Levi's birth. Levi, then, was 43 years old (130 minus 87) when he moved down to Egypt. Kohath had been born already (46:11), but would not likely have been 23 - likely closer to 3. His son Amrarn was born sometime in the next 110 years, since Kohath died at 133 (Exodus 6:18). Amram died at 137 (6:20), so the time between entering Egypt and the birth of Moses must have been less than 243 years (110 plus 133).

If, instead, we make the reasonable assumption that Levi, Kohath, and Amram were, on average, 46 when their sons were born, then the total from Genesis 12 to Exodus 12 is 430 years. The sojourning in Exodus 12: 40 began when Abraham entered Canaan as a sojourner. The 400 years of being strangers and being persecuted by the Egyptians (Genesis 15:13) began with Ishmael's mocking Isaac (Gen 21:9).

D. Oliver