Genesis 15:16—Did the Exodus occur in the fourth generation or in the sixth?

Problem: Here the Bible speaks of the Exodus as being in the “fourth generation” from the time of Jacob’s descent to Egypt. However, according to the genealogical tables in 1 Chronicles 2:1–9 (and Matt. 1:3–4) it was really the sixth generation (2:1–11), namely, Judah, Perez, Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, and Nashon.

Solution: The word “generation” in Genesis 15:16 is defined in that very passage as 100 years, since “the fourth generation” (v. 16) is used to refer to “four hundred years” (v. 13). So Genesis 15 is referring to the amount of time and 1 Chronicles is speaking of the number of people involved in the same period of time.

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.