Joseph’s Wise Administration
1 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father, my brothers, their flocks and herds, and all that they own have arrived from the land of
Canaan. They are now#tn Heb “Look they [are] in the land of Goshen.” Joseph draws attention to the fact of their presence in Goshen. in the land of Goshen.” 2 He took five of his brothers and introduced them to Pharaoh.#tn Heb “and from the whole of his brothers he took five men and presented them before Pharaoh.”
3 Pharaoh said to Joseph’s#tn Heb “his”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. brothers, “What is your occupation?” They said to Pharaoh, “Your servants take care of flocks, just as our ancestors did.”#tn Heb “both we and our fathers.” 4 Then they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live as temporary residents#tn Heb “to sojourn.” in the land. There#tn Heb “for there.” The Hebrew uses a causal particle to connect what follows with what precedes. The translation divides the statement into two sentences for stylistic reasons. is no pasture for your servants’ flocks because the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”
5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6 The land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best region of the land. They may live in the land of Goshen. If you know of any highly capable men#tn Heb “men of skill.” among them, put them in charge#tn Heb “make them rulers.”sn Put them in charge of my livestock. Pharaoh is, in effect, offering Joseph’s brothers jobs as royal keepers of livestock, a position mentioned often in Egyptian inscriptions, because the Pharaohs owned huge herds of cattle. of my livestock.”
7 Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and presented him#tn Heb “caused him to stand.” before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed#sn The precise meaning of the Hebrew verb translated “blessed” is difficult in this passage, because the content of Jacob’s blessing is not given. The expression could simply mean that he greeted Pharaoh, but that seems insufficient in this setting. Jacob probably praised Pharaoh, for the verb is used this way for praising God. It is also possible that he pronounced a formal prayer of blessing, asking God to reward Pharaoh for his kindness. Pharaoh. 8 Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How long have you lived?”#tn Heb “How many are the days of the years of your life?” 9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All#tn Heb “the days of.” the years of my travels#tn Heb “sojournings.” Jacob uses a term that depicts him as one who has lived an unsettled life, temporarily residing in many different places. are 130. All#tn Heb “the days of.” the years of my life have been few and painful;#tn The Hebrew word רַע (ra’) can sometimes mean “evil,” but that would give the wrong connotation here, where it refers to pain, difficulty, and sorrow. Jacob is thinking back through all the troubles he had to endure to get to this point. the years of my travels are not as long as those of my ancestors.”#tn Heb “and they have not reached the days of the years of my fathers in the days of their sojournings.” 10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.#tn Heb “from before Pharaoh.”
11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers. He gave them territory#tn Heb “a possession,” or “a holding.” Joseph gave them a plot of land with rights of ownership in the land of Goshen. in the land of Egypt, in the best region of the land, the land of Rameses,#sn The land of Rameses is another designation for the region of Goshen. It is named Rameses because of a city in that region (Exod 1:11; 12:37). The use of this name may represent a modernization of the text for the understanding of the intended readers, substituting a later name for an earlier one. Alternatively, there may have been an earlier Rameses for which the region was named. just as Pharaoh had commanded. 12 Joseph also provided food for his father, his brothers, and all his father’s household, according to the number of their little children.
13 But there was no food in all the land because the famine was very severe; the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan wasted away#tn The verb לַהַה (lahah, = לָאָה, la’ah) means “to faint, to languish”; it figuratively describes the land as wasting away, drooping, being worn out. because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that could be found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan as payment#tn Or “in exchange.” On the use of the preposition here see BDB 90 s.v. בְּ. for the grain they were buying. Then Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s palace.#tn Heb “house.” 15 When the money from the lands of Egypt and Canaan was used up, all the Egyptians#tn Heb “all Egypt.” The expression is a metonymy and refers to all the people of Egypt. came to Joseph and said, “Give us food! Why should we die#tn The imperfect verbal form has a deliberative force here. before your very eyes because our money has run out?”
16 Then Joseph said, “If your money is gone, bring your livestock, and I will give you food#tn The word “food” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. in exchange for#tn On the use of the preposition here see BDB 90 s.v. בְּ. your livestock.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for their horses, the livestock of their flocks and herds, and their donkeys.#tn The definite article is translated here as a possessive pronoun. He got them through that year by giving them food in exchange for livestock.
18 When that year was over, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We cannot hide from our#tn Heb “my.” The expression “my lord” occurs twice more in this verse. lord that the money is used up and the livestock and the animals belong to our lord. Nothing remains before our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your very eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we, with our land, will become#tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates consequence. Pharaoh’s slaves.#sn Pharaoh’s slaves. The idea of slavery is not attractive to the modern mind, but in the ancient world it was the primary way of dealing with the poor and destitute. If the people became slaves of Pharaoh, it was Pharaoh’s responsibility to feed them and care for them. It was the best way for them to survive the famine. Give us seed that we may live#tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates purpose or result. and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.”#tn The disjunctive clause structure (vav [ו] + subject + negated verb) highlights the statement and brings their argument to a conclusion.
20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each#tn The Hebrew text connects this clause with the preceding one with a causal particle (כִּי, ki). The translation divides the clauses into two sentences for stylistic reasons. of the Egyptians sold his field, for the famine was severe.#tn The Hebrew text adds “upon them.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons. So the land became Pharaoh’s. 21 Joseph#tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. made all the people slaves#tc The MT reads “and the people he removed to the cities,” which does not make a lot of sense in this context. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the LXX read “he enslaved them as slaves.” from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. 22 But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
23 Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate#tn The perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive is equivalent to a command here. the land. 24 When you gather in the crop,#tn The words “the crop” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. give#tn The perfect form with the vav (ו) consecutive is equivalent to an imperfect of instruction here. one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and the rest#tn Heb “four parts.” will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.” 25 They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor,#tn Heb “we find favor in the eyes of my lord.” Some interpret this as a request, “may we find favor in the eyes of my lord.” and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”#sn Slaves. See the note on this word in v. 21.
26 So Joseph made it a statute,#tn On the term translated “statute” see P. Victor, “A Note on Hoq in the Old Testament,” VT 16 (1966): 358-61. which is in effect#tn The words “which is in effect” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. to this day throughout the land of Egypt: One-fifth belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.
27 Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen, and they owned land there. They were fruitful and increased rapidly in number.
28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years; the years#tn Heb “the days of the years.” of Jacob’s life were 147 in all. 29 The time#tn Heb “days.” for Israel to die approached, so he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh#sn On the expression put your hand under my thigh see Gen 24:2. and show me kindness and faithfulness.#tn Or “deal with me in faithful love.” Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest#tn Heb “lie down.” Here the expression “lie down” refers to death. with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place.” Joseph#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “I will do as you say.”
31 Jacob#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity. said, “Swear to me that you will do so.”#tn Heb “swear on oath to me.” The words “that you will do so” have been supplied in the translation for clarity. So Joseph#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. gave him his word.#tn Heb “swore on oath to him.” Then Israel bowed down#sn The Hebrew verb normally means “bow down,” especially in worship or prayer. Here it might simply mean “bend low,” perhaps from weakness or approaching death. The narrative is ambiguous at this point and remains open to all these interpretations. at the head of his bed.#tc The MT reads מִטָּה (mittah, “bed, couch”). The LXX reads the word as מַטֶּה (matteh, “staff, rod”) and interprets this to mean that Jacob bowed down in worship while leaning on the top of his staff. The LXX reading was used in turn by the writer of the Letter to the Hebrews (Heb 11:21).
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1-2Joseph took five of his brothers to the king and told him, “My father and my brothers have come from Canaan. They have brought their sheep, goats, cattle, and everything else they own to the region of Goshen.”
Then he introduced his brothers to the king, 3who asked them, “What do you do for a living?”
“Sir, we are shepherds,” was their answer. “Our families have always raised sheep. 4But in our country all the pastures are dried up, and our sheep have no grass to eat. So we, your servants, have come here. Please let us live in the region of Goshen.”
5The king said to Joseph, “It's good that your father and brothers have arrived. 6I will let them live anywhere they choose in the land of Egypt, but I suggest that they settle in Goshen, the best part of our land. I would also like for your finest shepherds to watch after my own sheep and goats.”
7Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and introduced him to the king. Jacob gave the king his blessing, 8and the king asked him, “How old are you?”
9Jacob answered, “I have lived only 130 years, and I have had to move from place to place. My parents and my grandparents also had to move from place to place. But they lived much longer, and their life was not as hard as mine.” 10Then Jacob gave the king his blessing once again and left. 11Joseph obeyed the king's orders and gave his father and brothers some of the best land in Egypt near the city of Rameses. 12Joseph also provided food for their families.
A Famine in Egypt
13The famine was bad everywhere in Egypt and Canaan, and the people were suffering terribly. 14So Joseph sold them the grain that had been stored up, and he put the money#47.14 money: See the note at 42.25. in the king's treasury. 15But when everyone had run out of money, the Egyptians came to Joseph and demanded, “Give us more grain! If you don't, we'll soon be dead, because our money's all gone.”
16“If you don't have any money,” Joseph answered, “give me your animals, and I'll let you have some grain.” 17From then on, they brought him their horses and donkeys and their sheep and goats in exchange for grain.
Within a year Joseph had collected every animal in Egypt. 18Then the people came to him and said:
Sir, there's no way we can hide the truth from you. We are broke, and we don't have any more animals. We have nothing left except ourselves and our land. 19Don't let us starve and our land be ruined. If you'll give us grain to eat and seed to plant, we'll sell ourselves and our land to the king.#47.19 the king: See the note at 12.15. We'll become his slaves.
20The famine became so severe that Joseph finally bought every piece of land in Egypt for the king 21and made everyone the king's slaves,#47.21 made … slaves: One ancient translation and the Samaritan Hebrew Text; the Standard Hebrew Text “made everyone move to the cities.” 22except the priests. The king gave the priests a regular food allowance, so they did not have to sell their land. 23Then Joseph said to the people, “You and your land now belong to the king. I'm giving you seed to plant, 24but one fifth of your crops must go to the king. You can keep the rest as seed or as food for your families.”
25“Sir, you have saved our lives!” they answered. “We are glad to be slaves of the king.” 26Then Joseph made a law that one fifth of the harvest would always belong to the king. Only the priests did not lose their land.
Jacob Becomes an Old Man
27The people of Israel made their home in the land of Goshen, where they became prosperous and had large families. 28Jacob himself lived there for 17 years, before dying at the age of 147. 29#Gn 49.29-32; 50.6. When Jacob knew he did not have long to live, he called in Joseph and said, “If you really love me, you must make a solemn promise not to bury me in Egypt. 30Instead, bury me in the place where my ancestors are buried.”
“I will do what you have asked,” Joseph answered.
31“Will you give me your word?” Jacob asked.
“Yes, I will,” Joseph promised. After this, Jacob bowed down and prayed at the head of his bed.
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