Genesis 47:23–26 (ESV)
Joseph and the Famine (Part 3)
23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 And
at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” 25 And they
said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” 26 So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should
have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh’s.
As I was saying
yesterday, we take a negative view on Joseph buying the land, the animals, and the people. Slavery is very much on our minds. But let’s look at their view. The people told Joseph “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord,
we will be servants to Pharaoh.” Joseph is saving them. They must return 20% of their grain to Pharaoh and they get to keep the rest. They view Joseph as saving them! 20% is less than what a lot of people are paying taxes today.
Joseph is a “Savior” type of figure. The Lutheran Study Bible states “The same percentage required during the years of plenty. Sharecropping often would demand a third or more for the landlord. Moreover, the people were guaranteed food
during the famine. The terms were merciful.”
I pray: O Lord,
too often I look at my life from a selfish point of view instead of focusing on you. Help me to see the good and the positive work of your hand. Amen.
Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 88). St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House.