of the Sons of Israel 


This phrase may not seem to be theologically significant, though it appears some twenty times in the Old Testament in various forms But it gains importance from the fact that its understood meaning determines whore it is to be located in time, and this affects chronology. 

There is no question but that it can mean the departure of the released lsraelites under Moses from Rameses to Succoth on that notable 15th day of Abib. Aaron*s death on Mount Hor was "in the fortieth year of the going out of the sons of lsrael from the land of Egypt" Num.33:38,(Young), which means just that. It seems to be the uniform sense of the phrase as it occurs in Exodus and Numbers - books written from the desert viewpoint. But does it always mean exactly this? 

Now words usually, and phrases frequently, are coloured by their context, So a clear meaning can be reached only by observing the time, the place and the person using them. The context of this phrase in the 2nd And 4th Books of the Pentateuch, as just noted, is the continuing wilderness journey. But the Book of Deuteronomy, with the wilderness in retrospect and the Jordan crossing imminent, employs the phrase in a way which has a distinctly different meaning. 

The 5th Book of Moses has four references to incidents which took place at Israel*s coming forth out of Egypt, all at different times and none on that day of departure from Rameses. The retrospective character of Deuteronomy is apparent in that these look back ever further as the Book proceeds. These are: 

  1. In chapter 25 the Israelites are asked to "remember what Amalek did - - - as ye came forth out of Egypt" verse 17 (this was at Rephidim about two months after the exodus:

  2. In chapter 24 they were invited to "remember what Jehovah thy God did unto Miriam by the way as ye came forth out of Egypt" verse 9; this was not at the exodus but well over a year later, at Hazeroth: 

  3. In chapter 23 reference is made to Ammon and Moab who "met you not with bread and water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt" verse 4; this refers to a time probably several years later than (2):

  4. In chapter 4 the allusion is to the "land of Sihon, king of the Amorites who dwelt in Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote when they came forth out of Egypt" verse 46; this was late in the last year of the forty years sojourn, and even after Aaron's death. 

There are thus these two ways that Scripture makes use of the term, the going forth from Egypt. The first virtually relates it to the time that the Red Sea was crossed; the second, of later and more general use, associates it also with the Jordan crossing, and all that intervened, as if it was but one single timeless event. Thus we find reference in the Book of Joshua to "all the people, that were born in the wilderness - as they came forth out of Egypt" ch.5:5 

The Psalm which celebrates Israel's going forth from Egypt brings the two crossings together, declaring, "What aileth thee, 0 thou sea, that thou fleest? Thou Jordan, that thou turnest back?" Psalm 114:5. In Divine purpose and to faith,  both crossings merge into one (so it is written, "By faith they passed through the Red Sea"; and then, "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down" Heb.11:29-30. 

After the land was occupied then, excepting references to a wilderness context, biblical usage requires that the coming forth from Egypt of the sons of Israel be related to the Jordan crossing. This consideration can leave no doubt but that "the 480th year after the children of Israel were come out of the land of Egypt" of 1Kings 6:1, [490years to Solomon's dedication of the Temple....gtm] must be dated from the end of the wilderness journey, just as in Deut 4:46. So chronologists who date this from the day of the Exodus are introducing an error.

M. S. Lloyd Glasgow. September 1983

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