PHARAOH, FATHER, AND FAMINE
Seeking A New Home
Pharaoh had graciously offered Joseph's family relief from the famine, provision for their families, and asylum in Egypt, so upon the family's arrival, Joseph went before his king and reported the news. Joseph shrewdly selects five of his brothers to stand before Pharaoh, and as he had anticipated, Pharaoh questioned the brothers about their occupation. The brothers respectfully responded to Pharaoh's questions about their profession and their purpose in sojourning as they had been instructed by Joseph earlier. They ask Pharaoh to allow them to settle in the pasture lands of Goshen. This arrangement seemed reasonable, and Pharaoh directed Joseph to settle his family in the finest part of the land. Pharaoh honors Joseph by offering to employ any brothers with exceptional skills with a royal appointment over Pharaoh’s livestock. Once the negotiations concluded, Joseph brought his father in before Pharaoh and the aged Patriarch blessed the King of Egypt. Pharaoh is curious about the age of this elderly man. Jacob responds that he is one hundred thirty years old and that life had been difficult for him but that his fathers before him had lived even longer. Jacob blessed Pharaoh a second time and departed from his presence. Following the directions of Pharaoh, Joseph settled his family in the best part of Goshen and provisions of food were awarded to the head of each household according to the number of children.
Joseph has been a clever administrator, and the famine has lasted so long that the Egyptians are buying food. Joseph collects the money and continues to stockpile it Pharaoh's house. When the money runs out, Joseph suggests that the Egyptians exchange their livestock for food. The following year after they have exhausted all their resources, the people offer the only things they have to bargain with, their land and their bodies. Joseph accepts their offer, exploits them, and makes them slaves. This slavery will become a sobering background for where the story heads after Joseph. Joseph left one more exception, the priests which is interesting to consider since Joseph had married the daughter of a priest. Joseph is manipulating and oppressing suffering people. The other exemption is Joseph's family. He makes the people promise their servitude and one fifth of all their crops. It is sad to see Joseph be so ruthless toward the poorest of the land. God is continuing to bless his people and keep his covenant. Israel settled, gained more possessions, and multiplied greatly. Jacob lived seventeen more years in Goshen which is the number of years he spent with Joseph in Canaan. As Jacob nears the end of his life, he calls Joseph to settle some final details including the place of his burial. These years in Egypt have not diminished his love for the Promised Land, so he summons Joseph and asks him for his word in a solemn oath. Jacob tells Joseph to swear that he will bury him where his fathers were buried in the land of Canaan. How can you refuse your dying father? He complies with Jacob's request. At that moment, we are allowed a glimpse into a very intimate moment between an elderly father nearing death and his son. What a touching scene unfolds as the old venerable father bows in worship and thanksgiving.
Things To Consider:
- Why did Joseph coach his brothers on what to say?
- Why is respect for others necessary?
- Why do you think Joseph served everyone but his family well?
- What do you think Jacob believes about his life by the way he answered Pharaoh?
- Why do you think Joseph oppressed the Egyptians?
- What are some ways that you see Joseph manipulating his circumstances?
- Why do you think Jacob made Joseph promise to carry his bones to Canaan?
- What do you see about Jacob's faith in this exchange?
- Who do you think Jacob was bowing to? Why?