Joseph’s family arrives in Egypt, and Pharaoh says they should settle on the best land. The famine has continued to devastate the people of Egypt though. The Egyptian people come to Joseph for food. First they spend all of their money, then give over all of their livestock in trade. Finally Joseph convinces all of the people of Egypt (except the priests) to sign their land over to the Pharaoh in exchange for grain. Once all of the land is acquired, Joseph Makes it law that one-fifth of all produce from the land must be given to Pharaoh. In the final section of this chapter, Jacob/Israel asks Joseph to swear to him that when he dies, Joseph will bury him with his ancestors.
There is really some rather shrewd business practices that take place in this chapter, which are made even more so by the fact that they a in essence carried out by the government. I understand that this is considered a much different time, and Egypt was under the rule of a pharaoh. However I set out reading this book with an eye to what is has to offer as a kind of guidebook for modern life. To which I say that this really does not show what I would consider to be “best-practices” in terms of how a government and it’s people should interact.
A government should exist for the benefit of its citizens. Not the other way around, which is exactly what takes place in this chapter. The people of Egypt are on the verge of starving to death, and Joseph takes them for everything they’re worth. This is really distasteful. A much better plan would be to just have everyone take the grain in the first place, and then still tax them on everything grown in effort to replenish the food stores. This would be both a kind and loving thing to do, as would likely result in better health and longevity for the people of Egypt.
I can only draw two conclusions about this in regards to God’s opinion of what is happening. He is either apathetic to it, or he approves of it. Apathy is really the worse of the two options in this case, because people are being taken advantage of at one of their weakest moments. These a the people of his creation, and here he is turning a blind eye when he could be making a huge impression. What better way to gain converts than by miraculously feeding the hungry? Approval makes a little more sense, but is still frightening. God could be approving of this because it benefits his favored family. This does draw a rather distinct line in the sand when it comes to who God cares about though. On one side being the family of Jacob/Israel, and on the other, everyone else.