Genesis 47:13–19 (ESV)
Joseph and the Famine
13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished 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, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house. 15 And when the money was all spent in the land
of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” 16 And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I
will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He
supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent.
The herds of livestock are my lord’s. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our
land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”
The famine now hits
Egypt and the surrounding areas and Joseph began selling the grain. Notice that he did not give it away. He wanted them to have a invested interest in it. Otherwise, the people would sit around and not work or earn their food. I have
a hard time thinking that people would sit around and do nothing and expect free food. Hmmmmmm (sarcasm). The government was taking care of the people, but the people still had to work. Ambrose writes: “[Joseph] preferred to sell the
corn rather than to give it to the hungry … lest if they received it for nothing, they should give up cultivating the ground.… He did not wish to deprive all of them of their property, but to support them in it” (NPNF 2 10:55–56).
The people later began to sell themselves to be servants of the land to Pharaoh.
I pray: O Lord, Joseph’s God given wisdom helped prepare the people for hard times. Help us to humble ourselves to be content with what we have and to realize that at times, we may barely get by. Thank you for providing for
our needs, though at times we might rebel. Help us to keep our eyes on you. Amen.
Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The
Lutheran Study Bible (p. 88). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.