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Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.” Bible

Jacob was born when Isaac was 60 years old (Genesis 25:26), and lived 147 years (Genesis 47:28). The key to dating the events of Jacob’s life is that Jacob was 130 years old when he stood before Pharaoh (Gen. 47:9), which was in the 2nd year of the famine (Gen. 45:6, 9). There had been 7 years of wonderful harvest in Egypt, and now there had been 2 years of famine. Joseph was promoted by Pharaoh when he was 30 (Gen. 41:46) so now, when Jacob was 130, Joseph would have been 39. So if Jacob was 130 when Joseph was 39, Jacob would have been 91 years old when Joseph was born, which was the last year of the 14 years of service that Jacob owed Laban as a dowry for marrying Leah and Rachael. So Jacob would have left Israel and fled to Haran and become betrothed to Rachel (although it turned out to be Leah) when he was 77 years old.

Joseph was born the last year of Jacob’s 14-year service for Laban (Genesis 30:25-26), and Jacob could not leave Haran until the 14 years of service were over (the fact that Jacob had 11 sons in 7 years is not impossible because he had 2 wives and 2 concubines, all of which had children).

The wording of Genesis 30:25-26 shows us that Joseph was born that 14th year, when Jacob was 91 (cp. Old Testament Commentary by Keil and Delitzsch). That means that Jacob was 77 years old when he started working for Laban and 84 years old when his first seven years of dowry-service were over and he was allowed to marry Leah and Rachel (Gen. 29:19, 26-30). After Joseph was born, Jacob stayed six more years in Haran, working for Laban and building his wealth of flocks and herds (Gen. 31:38, 41). So Jacob was 97 when he returned from Haran to the land of Judah (Gen. 31:38-41). Rachael died in childbirth when Jacob and his family were back in Israel, but they had not yet reached Bethlehem (Gen. 35:16-19).


Commentary for: Genesis 47:9