(Either before or after you read this, head over to Shawn Smucker’s blog and check out my guest post: 5 Writing Secrets I Learned from Reading Genesis! Thanks Shawn!)
Way back in Genesis 12 God gave Abram a promise. It was a promise that the whole world would be blessed through his offspring. It was also a promise that anyone who blessed Abram’s family would be blessed themselves.
Two generations later, in a land far from Abram’s home, and in a land in need of blessing, his grandson fulfills the promise.
Jacob comes before Pharaoh, grateful for the generosity he has been shown, and blesses him.
I love that!
So Jacob and the Israelites live out the next 17 years in peace, abundance, and happiness. Goshen becomes a land where they “were fruitful and multiplied exceedingly.” I sure hope that doesn’t become a problem for them later. Probably not. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?
What Up Wit Dat?!
Ok, this slipped past me in previous chapters but now I see it loud and clear. (See it loud and clear? Really?)
Egypt has a messed up social security system. Follow me as I explain why.
- There is a terrible famine coming in seven years.
- To counter this, Joseph appoints overseers to collect 1/5 of all the produce of Egypt during the time leading up to the famine.
- The famine hits. It’s bad.
- The people are hungry and come to Joseph for food.
- Joseph makes them pay for it even though they had been forced to give it to him!
- What up wit dat?!?
Then they run out of money. So Joseph collects their livestock. Then they run out of livestock. So Joseph claims their lands and makes them slaves.
I don’t love that.
As awesome of a guy as Joseph is, this seems almost cruel. But from a businessman’s perspective? Brilliant!
“Becoming A Slave . . .
This chapter raised all kinds of questions about the relationship between people and the state. On one hand, actions the state took are literally keeping people alive. That is a good thing.
On the other hand, the state now requires them to give up their autonomy and freedom (though how much did they have in the first place?) to receive back the things that were theirs to begin with.
I’m not so sure that’s a good thing.
How come no one ever talks about this part of Joseph’s life? He had no problem giving food to his family but charged the rest of the people literally everything they had to get the same thing.
That doesn’t sit well with me either.
What about you? What are your thoughts on how Joseph ran the food-distribution system?