Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:21-25

21 And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.

22 Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.

23 Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.

24 And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.

25 And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.

We examined yesterday how when the people had given their money and flocks in return for grain, all that remained was for them to offer was their lands and servitude. Thus, all the free people of Pharaoh had surrendered themselves back to him. Pharaoh had made his conquest by grain rather than by the sword, just as God makes His conquest over our hearts by grace instead of force.

Of course, becoming a servant in Pharaoh’s household would also mean coming under his support and protection. They would no longer have to exchange anything for their daily bread except to do his bidding.

Joseph accepts their servitude, but he also proves to be a very gracious master. They will work the same fields that they have just given to him, and eighty percent of what they grow they will be able to keep for themselves. Only a fifth part will be required back to Pharaoh, a double tithe. At this point they might not be producing much on those fields, but the famine is about to end, and the yield will return to normal.

And this is much the same pattern for when we finally surrender the last of our own will to God. It takes a great of deal trust to allow Him to do whatever He will with us, theoretically that would empower Him to take all that is most precious to us and require us to do things that we hated. But what we find instead is that those fears were totally unfounded. Most often the things we consecrate to God He returns back to us. The only thing he takes are the vices and the hurts that we wished to be rid of anyway. We are still able to do our work and pleasure, only now it is to His name and glory. And the success we obtain from our efforts now vastly increases, the dearth replaced with sufficiency and abundance.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:18-20

18 When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:

19 Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

20 And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.

First, the people spent all their money to purchase grain, then they gave up their flocks as well. But still the famine continued, and now they return a third time. The people confess that they have nothing else of traditional value to offer Pharaoh. All that remains are their lands and themselves. They must choose between death or giving over the last they have held in reserve.

On the one hand, buying the lands of these people is obviously a good business investment for Joseph. He knows that in time the famine will end, and so these lands will be an investment in the future. But on the other hand, there is also a generosity to his purchase. Who can say that the people were cheated by giving up barren fields that cannot produce crops for already-grown grain? He is taking of their barrenness and giving them of his plenty.

And in this we clearly see an allegory for our spiritual surrender to God. Many times we are not comfortable to give up all at once, but the hard times of the world compel us to surrender our autonomy bit-by-bit, giving Him our time, our resources, and the big decisions in our lives. We give to Him of our weakness, and He returns His strength for it instead. Finally, we give Him our all. Our hearts and souls, our undying servitude. In the next verses we will read a type for what God then does with our sacrifice.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:15-17

15 And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.

16 And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.

17 And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.

Previously, Joseph traded corn for all the money in the land of Egypt. But now that he has all the money, the typical exchange of currency won’t work, and they must fall back on more primitive methods of bartering. And so, when the people come begging for food again, Joseph now exchanges it with them for their cattle. Horses, flocks, cattle, and asses, Joseph acquires them all for Pharaoh, just as he did with the money.

Of course, during a time of famine, providing feed for one’s flocks would only be an additional burden, secondary to having enough grain for one’s family. Thus, Pharaoh is being made richer, but there is also a double blessing being given to the people. Give up these flocks that you can’t afford to support anyway, and with them gone the grain you receive will last you longer.

What a strange thing, that an act of shrewd business could also be an act of kindness!

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 47:13-14

13 And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.

14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.

Here we have the first of a three-part sequence, each part showing greater and greater power given over to Egypt. Indeed, the pattern has a sort of fairy tale/storybook quality to it.

In this first sequence we hear that Joseph sold corn until all the money in the land had changed over to the Pharaoh’s hands. At this point the Pharaoh was essentially the bank for the entire nation, the only one who possessed valid currency.

Of course, there are other forms of wealth than just tokens of money, and we will hear about those next.

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.