The Torah presents conflicting verses regarding the length of the time that Bnei Yisrael resided in Egypt. In Bereshit 15:13 God says to Avram, “Know with certainty that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own – and they will serve them, and they will oppress them – four hundred years.” In this week’s Parasha, though, the Torah tells us that “the habitation of the Children of Israel during which they dwelled in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years…” (Shemot 12:40)

This issue is further complicated by the calculations of Chazal that have the period of the Jewish settlement in Egypt as being 210 years based on the Gematria of the word ‘redu’ – descend. The longer period of time mentioned by the Torah is based on the fact that Galut Mitzrayim began while Bnei-Yisrael were still in Eretz Yisrael. The Galut Mitzrayim begins to be counted at this point because at that time the Land of Israel did not yet belong to the Jewish People.

Rashi explains that the decree “that your offspring shall be aliens in a land not their own” began with the birth of Yitzchak, and there is a period of 400 years between his birth and the Exodus from Egypt. The remaining thirty years, Rashi explains, is the period of time between God’s telling Avram of the future of the Jewish People – Brit Bein Habetarim – and the birth of Yitzchak.

Ramban suggests another possibility that seems more relevant for our generation. Ramban says that the decree was indeed 400 years in Egypt, but that there was no absolute promise on God’s part that he would redeem the Jewish People at the completion of 400 years. The Galut in Egypt, the Ramban explains, was lengthened by thirty years due to the sins of the Jewish People. This idea is similar to the traveling in the desert for forty years after the Exodus instead of immediately entering Eretz Yisrael. This delay, too, was caused by the sinful behavior of the Spies who were sent by Moshe in preparation for entering the Land of Israel.

The Ramban teaches us that notwithstanding God’s promise of Redemption, the timing and pace of this Redemption is dependent upon our spiritual state.

In our generation, when we have experienced the Dawn of the Redemption, we must understand that while we are certain that this Redemption will be long lasting, eventually leading to the rebuidling of the Beit HaMikdash and the arrival of Mashiach, that the pace and manner in which the Geula unfolds is dependent upon us. This is a great opportunity and a great responsibility. As long as we continue to grow in goodness and dedicate ourselves to Redemption, so too we will merit a full and complete Redemption speedily in our lifetime.