Genesis 47 – The Slippery Slope
The rains return and the economic recovery begins
1 Then Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, and said, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks, their herds, and all that they own, have come out of the land of Canaan; and behold, they are in the land of Goshen.” 2 From among his brothers he took five men, and presented them to Pharaoh. 3 Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?”
They said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers.” 4 They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live as foreigners in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks. For the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now therefore, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.”
5 Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, saying, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you. Make your father and your brothers dwell in the best of the land. Let them dwell in the land of Goshen. If you know any able men among them, then put them in charge of my livestock.”
7 Joseph brought in Jacob, his father, and set him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?”
9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred thirty 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.” 10 Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from the presence of Pharaoh.
11 Joseph placed his father and his brothers, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 Joseph nourished his father, his brothers, and all of his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.
13 There was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine. 14 Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the grain which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For our money fails.”
16 Joseph said, “Give me your livestock; and I will give you food for your livestock, if your money is gone.”
17 They brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, and for the flocks, and for the herds, and for the donkeys: and he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock for that year.
18 When that year was ended, they came to him the second year, and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord how our money is all spent, and the herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants to Pharaoh. Give us seed, that we may live, and not die, and that the land won’t be desolate.”
20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every man of the Egyptians sold his field, because the famine was severe on them, and the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 As for the people, he moved them to the cities from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end of it. 22 Only he didn’t buy the land of the priests, for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and ate their portion which Pharaoh gave them. That is why they didn’t sell their land.
23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh. Behold, here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 It will happen at the harvests, that you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four parts will be your own, for seed of the field, for your food, for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.” 25 They said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.”
26 Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth. Only the land of the priests alone didn’t become Pharaoh’s.
27 Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they got themselves possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly. 28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were one hundred forty-seven years. 29 The time came near that Israel must die, and he called his son Joseph, and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, please put your hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me. Please don’t bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I sleep with my fathers, you shall carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their burying place.”
He said, “I will do as you have said.” 31 He said, “Swear to me,” and he swore to him. Israel bowed himself on the bed’s head.
Thoughts for the Day
Joseph brings his family to Pharaoh, Pharaoh gives them the best of his land and asks Jacob to bless him before leaving his presence. Once Joseph has his family settled we get back to business of running the country. Here in Genesis 47 – we start to see the results of the slippery slope the people of Egypt were headed down; when Joseph began the heavy tax on their grains. Joseph operated the government as though he was a Democrat and a Republican sharing the same body. It may be kind of like a right brain, left brain ideology where the two side worked in a bipartisan manner. One side is totally logical and the other seems to be more emotional and fly more the seat of the pants.
Once the drought set in, the people were grateful, to see the grain stock piled for the drought I am sure. They had paid a hefty tax to make this happen. Joseph, then began making them buy back the amount of grain they needed each year. (Sounds like double taxation here). Those of us residing in the United States would be starting to feel a little cheated about now. Joseph is also selling this precious commodity to foreign lands, (too much foreign aid?) and Pharaoh is allowing the detestable Hebrew sheep herders to immigrate into Egypt and in Verse 6, are giving them the best of the land and hiring them as the care takers of the Pharaoh’s live stock. Now the Egyptian people, are losing their best job’s and their grain to foreigners. If this were happening in the united states the Republican party would be wanting to through the bums out out of office. These open borders, and the tax and spend policies would have to go!
As Joseph placed his father and brothers, gave them possession of the best land in Egypt Verse 11, the land of both Egypt and Canaan both completely failed to produce anything, and the people had finally spent all their money to buy back grain. They were financially destitute. Now Joseph demands their live stock for payment for the grain. This is where Joseph is a conservative entrepreneur, he does not let these people mooch off the system, he makes them pay for it! At this point, he makes the Tea Party Proud.
Unfortunately the famine continued, and in order to get grain for food, in verse 18, the people had nothing left, but their land and their bodies which they sold to Joseph. Like a good politician, Joseph bought all their land for the price of food, and Joseph moved them all to the city, where the government could better care for them. This made the Democrat side of Joseph proud and happy, the Republican is hidden under a stone, and Libertarian just spit out his last tooth! My guess; had this happened in the United States Today, the people at this point would have tossed out the Hebrews, and strung up Joseph and the Pharaoh.
The people of Egypt seemed to understand what Joseph was doing, either he had a good PR team with the “Complain and Your Dead” campaign working wonders, the people were naive, or society as we know it has deteriorated drastically from then to now. The people of the United States are pretty good at living fat and happy, but when things don’t go well and the citizens are asked to give something in return, it seem patience runs thin. Would we have the fortitude to survive such policies today? I contend that commerce and attitudes were very similar then to what they are today, did the Bible not record the nay Sayers? Do the people eventually tire of the Policies Joseph and Pharaoh implemented? Coming out of the drought one of the greatest stimulus packages ever recorded was implemented, the people no longer owned their land, but were sent back to work it, and given grain for seed. They were allowed to keep 80% of the harvest and 20% was to be returned to the government. The people reacted with great happiness “Verse 25 – 25 They said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.””
The famine in the land is over, every one is settled back on their property-owning nothing, and working for the government. Now that the people are settled socialist and feeling fat and happy, we will go back to the family of Israel and Joseph. During the economic recovery “27 Israel lived in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen; and they got themselves possessions therein, and were fruitful, and multiplied exceedingly” Israel, comes near the end of his life, and asked Joseph to promise to bury him out of the land of Egypt in their home land. Joseph swore an oath to do so, and in verse 31, Israel shows his gratitude by bowing to end of the bed. At first, I thought he was dead, but then I read chapter 48, and found that was not the case. Then I thought he was playing like he died, but that made no sense, so I conclude Israel was old and needed his bed stand in order to bow to Joseph in gratitude. (Remember Joseph’s dream back a few chapters about everyone bowing to him?)
Have a wonderful day, and remember the Lord is in charge. In our own minds, we are well-educated and can spot bad public policy a mile away. The people of Egypt were patient, grateful to Joseph’s God, and seemed to trust him to the end. Their reward was that they survived a drought with the potential to wipe out every last soul in their nation. Though speaking our mind in a free country is natural and a good thing, we really need to trust God with the outcome, God is smarter than we think we are.
Here are some additional commentaries on this chapter: http://bible.cc/genesis/47-26.htm