Joseph Study | Day Eighteen
By: Brittany Green | Famine
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We’ve spent a lot of time with Jacob over the past few days! Let’s pick up and see how Joseph is doing.
Start today asking God to speak to you. Ask Him to remove distractions.
Now read Genesis 47:13-30.
This part of Joseph’s story might seem strange. When I first read it, I was pretty confused. Remember back when Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dreams and he came up with a plan to help the Egyptians survive the famine? This part of the story seems like the opposite. The people were becoming slaves of Pharaoh?? Doesn’t seem helpful.
Well, I did a little digging and learned some more about this passage.
Joe is gathering up all of the money from the people in exchange for food. And then they run out of money. So they give him their livestock until they run out of livestock. Since they have no food, no money, and no animals, they sell Joseph their land. Each year got progressively worse.
And then look in verses 18-19 at what the people say to Joseph: “Master, it’s no secret to you that we’re broke: our money’s gone and we’ve traded you all our livestock. We’ve nothing left to barter with but our bodies and our farms. What use are our bodies and our land if we stand here and starve to death right in front of you? Trade us food for our bodies and our land. We’ll be slaves to Pharaoh and give up our land—all we ask is seed for survival, just enough to live on and keep the farms alive.” (MSG)
They hold the perspective that their lives are worth more than their possessions. However, let’s check out that phrase slaves. If you know anything about Exodus and how the Israelites were treated by Pharaoh, you’re probably thinking it would be way worse to be slaves to Pharaoh. At the time, if the people were to become slaves of Pharaoh, it was then Pharaoh’s responsibility to feed and care for them. Slavery in this context also meant more like they were becoming servants. They moved into the city and off the farmlands. The money they had paid Joseph was then used to care for them since they were Pharaoh’s responsibility.
Ultimately, Joseph is providing for these people. Which is huge! He could have let them starve on their farms. He could have been cold-hearted. But he feared God and knew that he was supposed to save these people.
God’s hand was in this provision. His provision hasn’t changed since Joseph’s time.
What are some ways God is providing for you?
While the Egyptians are taken care of by Pharaoh, what is happening to Joseph’s family?
Verse 27 says that they settled in the land of Goshen, owned land, and were fruitful and multiplied. They were doing so well! They survived competition, jealousy, guilt, and lies, but ultimately leaned into the forgiveness to turn their lives around. Their family is going to survive, thrive, and be God’s nation!
The Israelites moved into the best part of the land. But they were still outsiders. They were shepherds and outcasts. But they were seen as honored because they were Joseph’s family. They were entrusted with land and pharaoh’s herds, while the rest of the Egypt was getting hit with the famine pretty hard. They were selling off everything they had to survive.
If we look at it historically for a minute, Egyptians were selling their land to Pharaoh. This land was a massive amount. It would eventually be the land that Pharaoh uses to build his pyramids and grand temples. His palaces were already massive, but if we fast-forward a few generations, Joseph’s family are the ones that will be building the pyramids on this land to make Pharaoh’s wealth and status even grander.
Joseph’s family is settling in the best of the land. They’re foreigners, but given the best land while the rest of the citizens are selling their land just to survive. God’s hand is in this. It doesn’t seem very fair, but God is providing for His people. He’s securing a place for Joseph and his brothers to grow their families, to create a culture, and to maintain their faith in God.
Today’s lesson is a lot of history. But it is laying the foundation for the culture that the Israelites will be in when Moses comes on the scene in Exodus. This part of the story is also laying the foundation for where we come from, as Christians. So don’t miss the small truths.
What’s one thing you learned from Genesis 47?
How can you apply this part of the story to your life?