Genesis 47


‘Joseph went and told Pharaoh, ‘My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.’ He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked the brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’ ‘Your servants are shepherds,’ they replied to Pharaoh, ‘just as our fathers were.’ They also said to him, ‘We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.’ Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.’ Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, ‘How old are you?’ And Jacob said to Pharaoh, ‘The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.’ Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence. So, Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.’ Genesis 47:1-12

The reason Joseph’s family were allowed to stay in Egypt was because Pharaoh allowed it to happen, this was the custom of the day. Pharaoh had to know everyone who was coming and going in and through Egypt. God was obviously working through Pharaoh without him realising it.

Five of Joseph’s brothers go to speak to Pharaoh and explain the reason why they want to live in Goshen. Jacob’s sons believed they were only going to stay in Egypt for a while, the reality was God planned for them to stay in Egypt for 430 years, Exodus 12:30.

Notice that Pharaoh asks them what their occupation was and if they had any special abilities. Pharaoh is obviously looking at how Jacob’s family could be used to help in the Egyptian economy. Remember the Egyptians looked upon shepherds as the lowest class of society and so because Goshen was on the outskirts of Egypt, they believed that these Israelite shepherds wouldn’t be able to cause any damage to their economy and pose no threat to their religion.

Why did Pharaoh ask Jacob how old he was?

We don’t really know why he asked Jacob his age, he may have remembered that his father and all the Pharaoh’s fathers before him died when they were around seventy years of age, which was the normal age span for this time. It’s possible that he asked this question because he was amazed that Jacob, who was 130 years of age, was still alive and standing in front of him and Jacob’s father and all the fathers before him lived much longer.

The district of Rameses was in the north-eastern part of Goshen, it was a city which would eventually be built and named after Ramses II, Exodus 1:11.

‘There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 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. 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.’ ‘Then bring your livestock,’ said Joseph. ‘I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.’ 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. 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. 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.’ 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, and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land. 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. 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.’ ‘You have saved our lives,’ they said. ‘May we find favour in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.’ 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.’ Genesis 47:13-26

Three Stages Of The Famine

In these verses we read about the here stages of the famine, in verses 13-14, we read about the first stage which was during the later years of the famine. Notice that Pharaoh becomes the owner of the land, except where the priests lived, and the people as a whole served as labourers on the land, but Pharaoh received all the money.

In verses 15-17 we read about stage two of the famine, although we don’t know exactly what ‘that year’ was. In verses 18-19, we read about the third stage of the famine, which was the last year of the famine because ‘seed’ is brought to Pharaoh.

Coffman points out that ‘the second year’ isn’t a reference to the second year of the famine, but to the second year after the flocks and herds had been liquidated for bread. The next seven verses, 20-26, outline the consequences of what happened in these three phases.

Although ‘one fifth’ or 20% may seem a lot, it’s relatively low, even when we compare it to today’s standards of tax. This tax would certainly help Pharaoh and his household, but it would also help everyone else in the process as this would provide the protection needed whilst everyone lived in Egypt, and like we do today, everything you earn, after paying tax is all yours.

Joseph appears to agree with this new tax system, although reluctantly we could argue and the people appear to agree with this new tax system and when we read through our Bibles, we see that everyone agreed with paying this tax, until the time of Moses at least.

‘Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number. Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, ‘If I have found favour in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.’ ‘I will do as you say,’ he said. ‘Swear to me,’ he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff.’ Genesis 47:27-31

In order for Jacob to be able to see God’s fulfilment of him becoming a great nation, God blessed him with seventeen more years of life. He’s old and knows his time on earth is coming to an end and he asks Joseph to promise him that he would be buried in the promised land, Genesis 28:13-15 / Genesis 35:11-12.

It wasn’t long after Joseph swore to his father, that he would bury him in the promised land, that Jacob died.

Go To Genesis 48



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