Genesis 47: A shrewd and evil business


Pharaoh, upon learning that Joseph’s family is good with cattle, gives them land in Goshen and puts them in charge of tending his cattle.  In the meantime, the famine in Egypt worsens and people can’t afford to feed their cattle anymore. So Joseph buys all the cattle and horses and flocks and gives the people bread to feed them. The next year, they come back and say – we no longer have anything of value, please help us. So Joseph takes all their land and their freedom and they are now owned by Pharaoh and Pharaoh now owns all the land. The people are now his slaves. They are fed and told where to plant crops and that a portion must now always go to Pharaoh. the only exception is the priests who remain independent.  In the meantime, the tribes of Jacob/Israel thrive and grow and become wealthy. Jacob is now 147 and is ready to die. He makes his son promise to bury him with his fathers in Canaan.

In other words:

It turns out that the whole, let’s stock food to feed the people of Egypt during the famine, wasn’t about being altruistic. It was about ensuring the wealth and stability of Pharaoh, who comes out of the famine as the sole landholder in Egypt with all the people now his slaves! And Joseph was the mastermind behind the entire plan.  He is shrewd, but his compassion apparently only extends to his family and his boss.

Favorite bit:

That Pharaoh – just gives Israel and his sons lands and puts them in charge of the cattle. He doesn’t know them. Surely there are others there who can tend his cattle. It makes me think that there is something more to the relationship between Pharaoh and Joseph that isn’t being spelled out.  (Genesis 47: 6)

Least favorite bit:

As the famine unfolds, we find out just how ruthless this business scheme is.  This is about money and power. Naked greed. It’s sickening in a way. (Genesis 47: 20,21)

Moral of the story:

Rich greedy men will often pose as saviors of the poor, in order to confiscate more wealth for themselves. (Genesis 47: 25)
People are willing to give up their freedom in exchange for security. What they actually get is neither (Genesis 47: 25)