Genesis to Exodus

Some critics suggest that Genesis and Exodus are separate stories from two different sources that got shoved together. Here is a quick overview and exploration of the transition between Genesis and Exodus, showing that there is a smooth transition between the two.

The family reunion between Joseph and the other Israelites is 215 before the Exodus event. In Gal 3:16-17, Paul says that the time from Abraham’s covenant (at 75 years old) to the time of the Exodus (Moses was 80), was 430 years. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus confirms this as well. Abraham was 75 when the covenant was made and he went to Canaan. He had Isaac at 100 (25 years later). Isaac had Jacob and Esau when he was 60. Then Jacob was reunited with Joseph when he was 130. 25+60+ 130=215 which is half of 430. So from Abraham to Moses, the covenant people spent 215 years in Canaan and 215 years in Egypt.

Joseph was made vizier at 30 (Gen 41:45-57) and the famine (which started 7 years later), had only been around for 2 years (Gen 45:6). So Joseph was 39 (30+7+2) when he reunited with Jacob, meaning he was born when Jacob was 91 (130-39). Jacob had only been married for 7 years prior to Joseph’s birth, so his first 11 sons and Dinah were all born within that 7 years. A mother can’t conceive and give birth to more than one child in a year unless they multi-births like twins. Since none of the children are listed as twins, it seems likely that all of Leah’s children were born once each year for the 7-year span with a birth gap in the fifth, and 2 births in the sixth. In the 5th & 6th years Bilhah and Zilpah got pregnant. Then in year seven, Dinah was born to Leah, and Joseph was born to Rachel. Then Benjamin was born after Joseph was sold at 17.

A likely scenario is that Jacob was:
– 85 when Reuben was born
– 86 when Simon was born
– 87 when Levi was born
– 88 when Judah was born
– 89 when Dan and Gad were born (maybe Issachar)
– 90 when Naftali, Asher, and Zebulun (maybe Zebulun if not the previous year)
– 91 when Dinah and Joseph were born
– around 108 or later when Benjamin was born

Jacob died at 147, 17 years after the family reunion. Joseph would have been 56, Benjamin would have been 39 at the most, and the other brothers would have been between 57 and 62. Then Joseph dies at 110 (Gen 50:26). Benjamin would have been 93 when Joseph died and the other brothers would have ranged from 111 to 116. In Gen 50:24 Joseph tells his brothers to bring him into the land of Canaan when the Israelites leave Egypt, and they agreed to do, so we know at least some if not all of his brothers are still alive when Joseph dies. The only other brother we have a death date for is Levi who died at 137 (Ex 6:16). Levi would have been around 114 when Joseph died, so he outlived Joseph by 23 years.

Exodus chapter 1 tells that the enslavement starts after all the sons of Jacob died. Since Levi outlived Joseph by around 23 years, it’s possible he was the last alive. In Ex 6:20, we are told that Jochebed, Moses’ mother, is her husband Amram’s aunt. She is the younger sister of Moses’ grandfather Kohath, which makes her the daughter of Levi, so the latest she could have been born is when Levi died. There are 64 years between Joseph’s death (215-71=144) and Moses’ birth (144-80=64). If Levi died 23 years after Joseph, and Jochebed was conceived or born the year he died, she would be 41(64-23) years old at the youngest when Moses was born. The Israelites were enslaved between 144 and 80 years. The minimum would be starting from the year Moses was born (he was 80 at the time of the Exodus) and the maximum would be the year Joseph died (144 years before the Exodus). Since the time of their enslavement is only narrowed to a range, could have been initiated anywhere in between those points, possibly somewhere around the time Levi died (121 years before Exodus). We don’t know for sure but this is the framework of everything we know connecting Exodus and Genesis. More on the topic of the Israelite’s time in Egypt here.

The Israelites spent 215 years in Egypt, so if each Pharaoh reigned an average of let’s say 60-80 years, then there would have been 3 to 5 Pharaohs minimum. Let’s simulate a possible scenario. Imagine that the Pharaoh whose dream was interpreted by Joseph dies Joseph was 60 years old. Then a second Pharaoh who knew and respected Joseph reigned for 70 years, which is 20 years after Joseph died at 110 years old. Then this 3rd new Pharaoh who didn’t know Joseph enslaved the Israelites a few years after Levi died (around 23 years after Joseph died). Levi died 41 years before Moses was born so let’s say Moses was born under this Pharaoh’s reign and out of nationalistic fear he decided to commit infanticide by drowning Israelite baby boys under two (Exodus ch. 1). Then his daughter found Moses and decided to raise him. She paid Moses’ mom, unknowingly, to nurse and help raise him in early childhood. Then Pharaoh 3 dies when Moses is around 19, making his reign 60 years. Then Pharaoh 4 allowed Moses to work and live in his palace and continued the harsh treatment of the Israelites. Perhaps Moses even advocated on their behalf without them knowing. Either way, when Moses was 40 (according to Acts 7:23), he murdered an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew, was discovered, and fled Egypt as a fugitive to Midian (Ex 2:11-15). Moses stayed in Midian until he was 80 (Exodus 7:7, Acts 7:30) when God called him back and told him that everyone in Egyptian that wanted him dead was dead (Ex 4:19). So that Pharaoh would have reigned for 61 years. Then the 5th Pharaoh is the one that Moses challenges in the Exodus story, who is drowned in the Red Sea (Ex 14:26-31). This is one of many possible explorations of how the events between Genesis and Exodus played out.