Saturday, October 22, 2011

Pharaoh Gets All The Land and Its Owners As His Slaves - Genesis 47:20-21

So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them.  Thus the land became Pharaoh’s.  And as for the people, he removed them to the cities from one end of Egypt’s border to the other.  Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh, and they lived off the allotment which Pharaoh gave them.  Therefore, they did not sell their land.  Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have today bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land.  And at the harvest you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own for seed of the field and for your food and for those of your households and as food for your little ones.”  So they said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”  And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt valid to this day that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priest did not become Pharaoh’s.

It was either starve to death with your family or sell your land to Pharaoh for seed so you grow grain on it and survive.

Once Joseph bought all the land for his boss, the scriptures say “he removed them to the cities” over the entire country.  Most commentators I have read stay clear of this phrase, and I do not blame them.  There seems to be little reason for the statement.  And what does it really mean?  One possibility is that indeed since their land was ‘sold’ to the Pharaoh and since they had sold themselves as slaves, Joseph could well have assigned them across the land in accordance with their skills and abilities and Egypt’s needs.  To say the least, many Egyptians (and others that lived in the land at the time) were displaced from their former homes to live elsewhere as it suited Joseph and the Pharaoh.  And clearly there was still a lot of agricultural land around the various cities that were being built up in Egypt at that time.

I am, however, amazed how the plight of those who lived in Egypt during the great famine we read about in Genesis parallels considerably with what happens to modern man/woman as he/she battles his/her own ‘enemy’ – be it evidenced in material, physical, physiological, psychological, emotional, or spiritual aspects of our lives.  There is a process that we go through.  It starts with our pre-occupation of what we must have.  Then there is spending of all our money on the ‘enemy’ followed by the enemy taking all our possessions including our land.  To stay alive we finally sell ourselves to him.  And then we’re the enemy’s to do with, as he likes.  We’re his to be moved around at will.

Many who read this story simply see Joseph, the Israelite, being successful and using his God-given talents to save Egypt.  And he did.  But let us not miss out on what was happening to the people that he helped save from starvation.  Their independence, their confidence, their honor, their hopes and aspirations, any respect they had in the community, and so much more, were all lost as they and their families were reduced to slaves in the land.  The only thing they had going for them was that chances are, they could live another day with the grain they now could grow.  But do so for what? Just simply to work another day for Pharaoh.

Contrast that and the saga of many a slave to sin today with a life of joy and freedom in serving God and being blessed by His protection and guidance and provision.  While the Egyptians had no choice at this time, some of us still do.  We can succumb to the enemy that is hunting us down and tormenting our souls, or we can surrender willingly to the King who loves us in ways we will never fully understand, but yet can experience and feel the warmth and care of His passion for us.

What choice have you made?  What choice do you need to make today?  The choice is clearly ours.  I pray we make the right one. 

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