Genesis 47:13-26: Salvation and service.

“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 fixed allowance from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allowance 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 favour 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.” NIV

‘’You have saved our lives…May we find favour in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh’’ (25).

‘They were willing to serve their saviour…Meditate much on the love of Calvary, and you too will feel that his empire should begin within your heart, and hasten to subdue the kingdoms of the world…We shall never know the real blessedness of living, its peace and joy and strength, till we have utterly surrendered to Christ’s supremacy.’ F.B. Meyer.

I find Gordon Wenham’s words in the ‘New Bible Commentary’ helpful at this point:

‘Modern readers of this section tend to view Joseph’s approach to the hungry Egyptians as cruel exploitation. Why did he not just give them food instead of demanding they exchanged their herds, land and freedom for grain? This is not the way the OT views the situation. Lv.25:14-43 shows that it was regarded as a great act of charity to buy the land of the destitute and make them your employees (‘slaves’). Indeed such ‘slavery’ under a good employer was regarded by some as preferable to the risks of freedom (self-employment), and when offered freedom, some slaves refused to take it (Ex.21:5-6; Dt.15:16-17). Slavery in OT times was very different from the harsh exploitation that was involved in the Atlantic slave trade of more recent centuries. OT slavery at its best meant a job for life with a benevolent employer. Certainly, this was how the Egyptians viewed Joseph’s actions…(47:25)’

PRAYER: Thank you Lord Jesus that in service to you we find perfect freedom.