After Avraham's mistake of asking "How will I know?" (Nedarim 32a - ושמואל אמר מפני שהפריז על מדותיו של הקב"ה שנאמר במה אדע כי אירשנה), his great grandchildren needed 400 years of slavery.

וַיֹּאמֶר לְאַבְרָם יָדֹעַ תֵּדַע כִּי־גֵר יִהְיֶה זַרְעֲךָ בְּאֶרֶץ לֹא לָהֶם וַעֲבָדוּם וְעִנּוּ אֹתָם אַרְבַּע מֵאוֹת שָׁנָה׃ (Bereishis 15:13) And He said to Abram, “Know well that your offspring shall be strangers in a land not theirs, and they shall be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years;

Although some suggest gematria explanations (see Daas Z'kenim: ד"א במ"ה עולה ארבע מאות בא"ת ב"ש), why was 400 years specifically helpful for remedying Avraham's error?

  • The pshat of the next few verses seem to indicate that G-d forbears the sin of the Emori for that long. Perhaps, a more basic question is why his offspring needed to be enslaved for any amount of time? – DanF Mar 29 '18 at 19:34
  • According to what I remember hearing the 400 years has to do with the story of the 4 kings. I do not have time to find more info on this right now. Perhaps someone else can. – Gershon Gold Mar 29 '18 at 19:38
  • very strongly related: judaism.stackexchange.com/a/89607/16354 – רבות מחשבות Mar 30 '18 at 3:21

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