Beresheit 15:13 says the Jews will be OPPRESSED for 400 years. I think this is from the birth of Isaac. How were they oppressed in those early years?
Barry Epstein, Dallas, USA
The verse does not actually say that "the Jews will be oppressed for 400 years." Rather, it says that they will be strangers in a foreign land, and they will be oppressed and enslaved, for 400 years. The verse is listing three stages of increased difficulty -- first, being strangers in a foreign land; second, suffering oppression ("Inuy"); and third, suffering slavery ("Avdus"). From the beginning of these three stages until the end, there are four hundred years. See MALBIM who expounds on this, and YALKUT SHIMONI 1:77 who alludes to it. (See also RAMBAN and others who offer other approaches to your question.)