Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:11-12

11 And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, 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 And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.

At first these verses might not seem very significant. Everything that Joseph said would happen, and that Pharaoh confirmed would happen, that was what happened.

However, we live in a world defined by broken promises. Whether due to lying intent or unforeseen challenges in the way, all the time we are told that something will happen and then let down. People who were supposed to always be there for us are absent, a steady employer has to let us go, or a lifelong mentor loses their own way.

Thus, I think it is actually very significant that the record explicitly shows that what Joseph promised, that was what was delivered, to the letter. He had pledged a parent-like nourishment for his family, and that was what he gave to them. He was true and dependable, and he was able to be so because he was built upon the foundation of his every-faithful God.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:7-10

7 And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.

8 And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?

9 And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.

10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.

Pharaoh had met the brethren of Joseph, but now he gets to meet the father. Evidently Pharaoh was struck by the aged appearance of Jacob, and so immediately inquired as to how old he was! Jacob’s response “few and evil have the…years of my life been,” shows how much trial and tribulation the man sees in his past.

First there was fleeing his father’s house for his very life, then being cheated by his father-in-law numerous times, losing the love of his life prematurely, and believing he had also lost his son for twenty years. Perhaps things are coming more right at the end, but it has been a hard road for Jacob thus far.

Then this patriarch gives Pharaoh a blessing. As a powerful king, Pharaoh had probably been given all manner of blessings by his holy men, mystics who tried to divine the Egyptian gods’ will by signs and symbols. Here, though, he had the opportunity to receive a consecration from a man who had not only spoken directly with the Lord, but even wrestled with Him! I wonder if the king was able to perceive that this old man’s relationship with divinity was on another level.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:5-6

5 And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:

6 The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.

Pharaoh responds magnanimously. He encourages Joseph to give his family “the best of the land,” and he also offers a job to them, to be shepherds over his own flocks if they so desire.

This is a display of true power on the part of Pharaoh. Too often power is associated with the ability to destroy and conquer. Yet it takes far less effort to destroy and take in this world than to build and protect. A truly powerful nation is one that can support the starving and give great gifts to those in need.

And for his gracious welcoming of the Israelites, Pharaoh is about to be even more blessed by God. Later on in this chapter we will read how God recompenses him, expanding his domain and power further than ever before.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:1-4

1 Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and, behold, they are in the land of Goshen.

2 And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.

3 And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

4 They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.

As mentioned before, Pharaoh had already approved these outsiders living within his land, which enables them to make such bold requests with confidence, such as “let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” What a thrill it must have been to speak to a king in such a way!

And now is an excellent time to consider the spiritual imagery in this scene. The good son has brought his brethren before the throne of the king, emboldened to ask for a place of their own in the king’s domain, confident that they will receive because their brother is beloved and trusted by the king. This is the Savior bringing us to the judgment bar, to receive our parcel of heaven. The Israelites didn’t receive their reward because of anything they had done, and neither will we, but because of what the good brother has done for us.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 46:31-34

31 And Joseph said unto his brethren, and unto his father’s house, I will go up, and shew Pharaoh, and say unto him, My brethren, and my father’s house, which were in the land of Canaan, are come unto me;

32 And the men are shepherds, for their trade hath been to feed cattle; and they have brought their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have.

33 And it shall come to pass, when Pharaoh shall call you, and shall say, What is your occupation?

34 That ye shall say, Thy servants’ trade hath been about cattle from our youth even until now, both we, and also our fathers: that ye may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians.

Pharaoh had already encouraged Joseph to bring his family to Egypt, so this upcoming interview was probably only a formality. Even so, Joseph wanted to prepare the family for how to conduct themselves when they met the ruler.

Once again, we hear how certain practices of the Israelites are abominable to the Egyptians, and some have speculated that the Israelites’ shepherding was offensive because its endpoint was the slaughtering and consuming of animals that the Egyptians might have considered sacred.

But perhaps this cultural rift was a benefit to the Israelites in this situation. It sounds to me in verse 34 that Joseph is instructing his family to actually emphasize this controversial practice, so that Pharaoh will be compelled to divert the family into Goshen by themselves. Rather than being mingled with the pagan nation, they will have to live apart, according to their own faith and customs. Thus, the Israelites will have the benefit of living under the bounty and protection of Egypt, but they won’t be absorbed into its culture.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 45:16-20

16 And the fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh’s house, saying, Joseph’s brethren are come: and it pleased Pharaoh well, and his servants.

17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan;

18 And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.

19 Now thou art commanded, this do ye; take you wagons out of the land of Egypt for your little ones, and for your wives, and bring your father, and come.

20 Also regard not your stuff; for the good of all the land of Egypt is yours.

Joseph had promised great things for his family, including a new home in the land of Egypt. As it turns out, Pharaoh totally supported him in this promise. In fact, Pharaoh improved on the promise, telling the Israelites to use his own wagons to carry their household to the new land. He also declares that they might leave behind whatever things they wish, and they will all be replaced freely in the land of Egypt!

The Israelites had a heritage of patriarchs who worked hard to obtain the things that they had. Abraham was a digger of wells and Jacob was a great shepherd, but now an equal increase and more was being offered freely by a stranger. They had grown to current stature by a combination of hard work and the blessing of God, but now the blessing was being repeated, and God alone was responsible for it.

The Lord can give and take entirely according to His own will. Here was the greatest want the land had ever known, and the Israelites were receiving a ridiculous abundance! Of course, on the other hand, they will still be living off the fat of the land when another Pharaoh will suddenly turn them all into slaves! Thus, the risings and fallings of the world are impossible to predict, and the only assurance is to rest in the flock of the Lord. For through high times and low, He ultimately led the Israelites to the promised land.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 41:56-57

56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

Joseph saves countless lives and makes a healthy profit for the Pharaoh at the same time! It really speaks to the incredible bounty of the first seven years that the excess was enough to keep the locals alive and still have more to sell.

Also, once again foreknowledge is essential for him to be able to handle the situation with clarity and decisiveness. God had not only forewarned of the famine, but He had also specified exactly how long it would endure for. By knowing that he needed to divide the resources across seven years Joseph would know exactly how much of their stock he could afford to sell off each year. If it weren’t for that ability to plan ahead, one might have been tempted in the fourth or fifth year to say “this famine might never end! I better hoard everything remaining for myself and let the rest of the world starve.” Then war might have occurred, and unnecessary deaths would have abounded everywhere.

As Joseph conducted his business and sold the grain to many foreign hands, I wonder whether the thought ever occurred to him that his own father was caught within this famine and might very well send for some corn. Did he have any inkling that he might soon see his brothers yet again?

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 41:53-55

53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

The time of plenty was drawing to a close on all that region of the world, but not on the life of Joseph. He had been made to suffer separately from the rest of the world but now he was going to flourish apart from it as well. In all the area was a great famine and hunger, but in Joseph’s storehouses there was grain aplenty.

When the Egyptians complained to Pharaoh about the issue, he simply referred them to Joseph. “What he saith to you, do.” This is one matter of royal responsibility that the Pharaoh did not need to lose any sleep over. This very well could have been the single greatest hurdle of his entire rulership, and the whole thing had already been taken care of!

I can’t help but assume that seeing seven years of plenty, just as Joseph had foretold, would have cemented Pharaoh’s faith in the entire interpretation. By the sixth and seventh years it would have been easy to start assuming that the extreme yield would never subside. But then it did. Then as the famine proceeded year after year, one might be tempted to assume that there would never be good times again. But there would be, and Pharaoh could rest easy in that knowledge, because he had already seen the first half of Joseph’s prophecy come true.

There is a lesson to be learned of the calming reassurance that comes by having God’s guidance in our lives. Things might be tumultuous, good and then bad and then good again. When we are in the middle of a season it might be easy to feel like it will last forever. But though there be chaos around us, and for very long, if we are securely tucked in the hand of our maker, uncertainties can be sureties, giving us a constant, abiding peace inside.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 37:36

36 And the Midianites sold him into Egypt unto Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh’s, and captain of the guard.

While family drama would continue to take place at home, Joseph was sold off and separated from all of that. From now on he would have his own problems to deal with, and a whole new story was unfolding for him in Egypt.

Egypt is of recurring importance throughout the Old Testament, and it takes on many roles, entwining itself in the fate of the Israelites, sometimes for good and sometimes for evil. At this point Egypt appears to be for evil, the land of Joseph’s unjust oppression, but in a few years that will change, and Egypt will become a place of refuge.

I can’t help but wonder if Joseph felt he was already at the lowest point of his life, a slave in a strange land, but soon he will descend even further, cast out of his lowly station to become a prisoner. Before we get to that, though, we have to take a detour with Judah for chapter 38.