Holy Spirit of God, Truth-Teller, Life-giving One. I come before You now to receive instruction and guidance from Your Word.
Read Genesis 47:13–31
Joseph and the Famine
13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”
16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.
18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”
20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[a] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”
25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”
26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.
27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.
28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”
“I will do as you say,” he said.
31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.[b]
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectGive thanks for your freedom. This may be political, economic, or social – the freedom you have to make your own decisions.
To the outside world Egypt seemed to be the place of hope and freedom. Others came looking for food in the time of famine. But beneath the surface of Egypt lay a sinister threat. It was not the land of promise, and it was not the kind of society that God intended for His people.
Under Joseph, his own people began to flourish and multiply (27). However, deep within their hearts was the longing for home, the land promised by God where, as the prophet would say, ‘everyone will sit under their own vine and under their own fig-tree’ (Micah 4:4). They had to be patient because the land of Canaan was also under Egyptian oppression (14–15).
This chapter points forward to a time when Israel will be enslaved by Egypt, but eventually plunder it (Exodus 11:2–3), and it points forward to the time when the bones of Joseph himself will be taken to the promised land to rest with those of his father Jacob (Exodus 13:19). The shortcomings of Egypt point to the values of the kingdom of God.
Use the Lord’s Prayer to pray for your own country, organization, or family. How could they be shaped by the values of the kingdom of God? How could you help in that transformation?
Gracious Lord, my heart’s desire is to seek Your kingdom above everything else. Empower me to put You first in my life.
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