The Life of Joseph - Lesson 35, Continuing the Life of Joseph in Egypt.
Genesis 47:7-10, And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou? 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. And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
Here the prince with God appears before the prince with men.
And who blesses whom? As Hebrews 7:7 says, the less is blessed of the better.
The Pharaoh was prince among men and had power over men but Jacob was a prince with God and had power in heaven.
This we ought to always remember when we stand before men for the fear of man bringeth a snare.
We ought to always remember that the godly pilgrim and stranger of this world is greater by far than the mighty men of earth who have their reward and then pass away.
For the distinction that the godly pilgrim and stranger of this world have is their relationship with Jesus Christ.
And that is the only reason that they can be called better.
The Pharaoh asks of Jacob one question and that question is "How old are you?"
A common question to those well advanced in years.
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.
Jacob answers by giving the Pharaoh an idea that this life is simply a pilgrimage.
What is a pilgrimage?
It is (to dwell as a stranger), a dwell in a temporary abode, a place on the way to another place for Jacob, as were his fathers, was looking for a city whose builder and maker was God.
Regardless how deep we sink our roots into this world this is simply a pilgrimage, a passing through on our way to another place.
Each time you attend a funeral this idea of a pilgrimage is displayed.
The one whose body is in the casket has passed away.
He or she has left this temporary abode for another place.
Jacob replies that his days are short compared to his father's for Abraham lived 175 years and Isaac lived 180 years.
And his father's even further back lived many more years than Abraham and Isaac.
Jacob will live 147 years.
And as he replies to Pharaoh he does not embellish his life but he tells the Pharaoh that the days of the years of his life have been evil.
Some positive thinker would tell Jacob to not dwell on the negative.
But Jacob dwells in reality.
He has lived 130 years and evil have been the days of his life.
Think back on Jacob's life and you will agree.
He was compelled to flee from home,
was treated wretchedly and deceived by his father-in-law in a strange land,
he encountered the hostility of his brother Esau,
was grieved by the rape of his daughter Dinah, and subsequent murders by his sons Simeon and Levi.
was deeply pained by Reuben's incest,
and grieved almost to the point of death by the loss of Joseph and Rachel.
And until now he feared for his life because of the famine and he feared the loss of his sons in Egypt.
But he knows his status before God and he came to the Pharaoh with a blessing and he departs with another blessing for the less is blessed of the better.
Genesis 47:11,12, 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 (Ra'mses), as Pharaoh had commanded. And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
Joseph was careful to make the assignment of the land in Goshen, a legal transfer to Jacob and his sons, for we are told here that he gave them a possession in the land of Egypt.
In this sense this was different than what they had experienced in Canaan for in Canaan they owned little land.
I believe that Joseph knew they were to be there for 400 years as was told to Abraham and passed on to Isaac and Jacob and his sons.
For God had told Abraham in:
Genesis 15:13, And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;
So Joseph made the settlement as permanent as he could, knowing that upon his death, when his influence would disappear, things would change for his people.
And he knew that things would change, for the same prophesy told to Abraham included of a surety that they would serve them and be afflicted four hundred years:
Joseph knew that changes would come to their status but as long as he was alive they were safe in their own land.
Note that Goshen was in the land of Rameses. It is interesting to note that in:
Exodus 1:11 we are told that the children of Israel .... built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Rameses.
And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families.
So Joseph was careful to give bread according to the number of children in each clan.
Each according to their need.
Genesis 47:13-17, 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. 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. 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. And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail. 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.
There was no bread in all the land excludes the land of Goshen for Joseph saw to it that his family was nourished.
However the land was exhausted and no longer could bear food.
Savings accounts were also being used up and money was flowing into the house of Pharaoh for that is where the grain had been saved up.
But money was real money in those days, no printing presses to print more money.
Gold and silver were finite and it was being exhausted and soon there was none left to use for buying grain.
So Joseph proposes a plan which will not only provide bread but will be a relief to the people of caring for their animals.
Most likely the animals had little value because of the difficulty it was to find pasture and water to keep them alive.
Apparently the resources of the government could carry the cattle though the famine better than the individuals could have done.
Whatever the case the people are in dire straights and trading their cattle for food to keep their families alive is not challenged.
These are emergency times and emergency measures are exercised by the one in charge.
But this measure is good for only one year.
Why is this taking place?
No doubt it is connected with the establishment of Israel in the land.
God intends, in Egypt to form a peculiar people and all these actions are contributing to this purpose.
The end result of these measures will be to have in Egypt a Pharaoh without small competitive princes or fiefdoms who will threaten the kingdom.
It is to establish a country that will be around for 400 years to provide the incubator necessary to do God's will.
Joseph is simply the instrument that God uses to establish the right environment for God to do a work in the lives of Israel.
Genesis 47:18-25, 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: 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. 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 Pharaohs. And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof. 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. 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. 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. 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 see here God's plan for Egypt unfolding.
For all of this is to consolidate and stabilize Egypt under the Pharaoh's rule.
Most likely prior to the famine Egypt was not a stable country and was subject to much disruption.
But God's plan called for 400 years of stability in order for his people to become what he planned for them.
And that included affliction in Egypt at the time God deemed appropriate for Israel's growth.
Joseph by doing what he did, did not make of Egyptians a nation of slaves.
What he did in effect is make a nation of free tenants who paid a twenty percent income tax.
This was now a country where no political party could rise to oppose Pharaoh's power.
Joseph was now in full control of the country with the exception of the priests.
Religion had slipped away from his control for religion still controlled the Pharaoh.
Joseph relocated families to the cities for easier distribution and food and for other employment.
He gave those remaining on the land sufficient seed for sowing the land.
Note that all this was welcomed in this famine soaked land for the people said
Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.