Genesis Chapter Forty-Seven

 

Read Genesis 47:1-12 – Israel Settles in Egypt

 

v.1-2 “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.  And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh

 

            As would be appropriate under these circumstances, Joseph now presents his family to Pharaoh.  Though he has all of the power in this land that any man could have; he understands that there is still one whom he serves, just as Jesus did:

 

Matthew 20:23 “And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father

 

v.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

 

            Joseph, with all of his virtues, had given Israel instructions regarding their meeting with Pharaoh to speak a small deception.

 

Genesis 46:34 “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

 

They were instructed to say that they herded cattle, which they did, but their primary occupation was that of shepherds and so they answer Pharaoh’s inquiry honestly, they are shepherds.  Pharaoh, as much as he appreciated Joseph, as generous as he was willing to be, apparently wanted to make sure that these strangers who had sold their brother into slavery would be an addition to the wellbeing of his country, not a burden.

 

v.4 “They said morever 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 we noted in earlier study, the land of Goshen is in the far northeastern corner of the country of Egypt.  It was a rich farm and pasture land in the Nile Delta built up and sustained by the annual floods of this great river.  It was probably the best land in Egypt for Israel with their flocks and herds, of course God is instrumental in providing for his people and his purpose is behind their situation.  In addition Israel wants Pharaoh to understand that they are sojourners?  Why?  They have a land promised of God to which they will want to return.  They want to be considered wanderers, not permanent citizens of Egypt.

 

v.5-6 “And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:  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 is generous with Joseph’s family, allowing them to live in the land in Egypt that is the most desirable for their profession and purpose.  He apparently also knows that they are men of integrity and that they follow the precepts of God.  The practice of these precepts seems harder and harder to find among men today.  Good help is almost impossible to find as an employer and our experience as a customer reminds us constantly of this problem.

 

Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest

 

As shepherds and herdsmen they are people who:

 

“Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herdsProverbs 27:23

 

Consequently Pharaoh also wants to hire them to tend to his herds as well.

 

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

 

            Jacob, or Israel, is the patriarch, the priest, of the Most High God, consequently when he is brought before the king of Egypt as God’s representative he performs much the same service as Melchizedek did for Abraham:

 

Genesis 14:18-19 “And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth

 

v.8-10 “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

 

            For whatever reason, we do not know, perhaps by the providence of God so that man would have a mark in time to indicate when Israel entered Egypt; Pharaoh asks Jacob his age.  What is significant about his reply?  He speaks of his 130 years of life as a pilgrimage, a sojourning, a journey with a beginning and a definite end and so it is:

 

James 4:14 “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away

 

Hebrews 9:27 “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:”

 

v.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, as Pharaoh had commanded.  And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father's household, with bread, according to their families

 

            So Pharaoh allows Joseph to place his family in land that apparently belonged to him, the king.  This would be in agreement with the hiring of Israel’s family to tend his herds.  The Holy Spirit, through Moses, makes record of the land belonging to Rameses.  This notation supports the contention by some scholars that Rameses was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, the Pharaoh whom Moses went before to request that God’s people be allowed to leave Egypt.

            During his life time Joseph nourished and cared for his family, his people, providing them with what was needful in their new land.

 

Read Genesis 47:13-26 – The Depth of the Famine

 

v.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

 

            Two years and more have passed since the famine began.  It was so complete and so devastating that now the people are beginning to faint or fall by the wayside as a result of hunger.  How wonderful indeed is the providence of God and how pitiful is man when that providence is suspended for a time.  We need to remember from time to time that even from the beginning God has provided for our every need:

 

“Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all thingsGenesis 9:3

 

v.14-15 “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

 

            Through the necessity of purchasing grain for bread the people of these regions have run out of money, there is no more.  During the times of plenty they did not provide for themselves and consequently have had to rely on the grain purchased and stored by Joseph to live.  Now a new crisis has arisen, there is no more money with which to buy grain.  They turn to the government of the country asking Joseph to give them bread that they might live.

 

v.16-17 “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

 

            Joseph now does the best he can for the Egyptian people.  He will not give them bread for that would burden the country without having received any benefit and reward its people for their poor preparation for this famine.  So he strikes a bargain, he offers to trade bread for their animals.  This they do and it sustains them for one year.

 

v.18-19 “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.

 

            Another year has passed by and the people are desperate for bread for food again.  So they come to Joseph again.  The king owns all of their money, all of their animals and now all they have left is themselves and their land.  So they bargain with Joseph to trade their land and their own servitude for enough to continue to live life.

 

v.20-21 “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.  And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof

 

            So Joseph accepts their offer and buys all of the land of the country of Egypt, every acre now belongs to Pharaoh.  The king doesn’t leave his subjects on the land but moves them to the cities, the scripture says from one border of Egypt to the other.

 

v.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

 

            In all of the dealings with the Egyptian people during the famine there was one exception made.  Those who served as priests to the Egyptian gods were supported and maintained by Pharaoh.  Consequently the priests continue to hold their land, and kept their animals just as they had before.  Of course, as we remember from earlier verses the Israelites were also sustained by Pharaoh through Joseph.

 

v.23-24 “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.”

 

            Now that Pharaoh owns all of the land in the country and it has come time to plant again as the famine will be brought to an end.  Another bargain is struck with the people of Egypt.  Their land, or land, not necessarily that which they traded, was rented back to them in exchange for 20% or a one fifth part of their crops.  A situation that some of us are very familiar with becomes the way of life in Egypt, every farmer has becomes a sharecrop farmer.  Based on my own experience, some of us would have been very happy to have had a four fifths share of the crops we grew.

 

v.25-26 “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.  And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part, except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh's

 

            The Egyptian people are so grateful for being preserved during the great famine that they readily agree to be Pharaoh’s servants.  They will work the land and provide Pharaoh a one-fifth share of what they produce in exchange.  Joseph makes this a law to be observed throughout the country for the future as well.

Read Genesis 47:27-31 – Israel Multiplies

 

v.27 “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly

 

            All during this period of time and for the years following Israel dwells in the land of Goshen where God blessed them greatly.  Apparently even during the time of the great famine they were not effected with the great need that the rest of the land of Egypt endured and they had Joseph to sustain them.  They had been chosen of Pharaoh to tend his cattle as well and due to the famine Pharaoh eventually owned all the cattle and other livestock in Egypt.  Israel multiplied in every way, even to the point later that the Egyptian rulers feared them.

 

Exodus 1:7-9 “And the children of Israel were fruitful, and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty; and the land was filled with them.  Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.  And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we

 

v.28-29 “And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: so the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.  And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt

 

            Time relentlessly marches on and when Jacob had been in Egypt for seventeen years and reached the age of 147, he knows that his days on this earth are now limited.  He does not want to be buried in Egypt, but to be returned to the burial grounds of his ancestors.  He calls his son Joseph, and requires him to swear an oath.  Here we find the same words and the same postures that Abraham used when he sent his elder servant to secure Isaac a wife.

 

“And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:  And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell Genesis 24:2-3

 

v.30-31 “But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.  And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed's head

 

            He requires Joseph to swear that he will be returned to the buryingplace of his fathers, the land and cave that Abraham purchased from the Hittites.

 

Genesis 23:19-20 “And after this, Abraham buried Sarah his wife in the cave of the field of Machpelah before Mamre: the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan.  And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth