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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Israel Settles in Goshen
1Joseph went in to Pharaoh and said, “My father and my brothers and all their families are here. They have all their animals and everything they own from the land of Canaan with them. They are now in the land of Goshen.” 2Joseph chose five of his brothers to be with him before the Pharaoh.
3Pharaoh said to the brothers, “What work do you do?”
The brothers said to Pharaoh, “Sir, we are shepherds, just as our ancestors were shepherds before us.” 4They said to Pharaoh, “The famine is very bad in Canaan. There are no fields left with grass for our animals, so we have come to live in this land. We ask you to please let us live in Goshen.”
5Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. 6You can choose any place in Egypt for them to live. Give your father and your brothers the best land. Let them live in the land of Goshen. And if they are skilled shepherds, they can also care for my cattle.”
7Then Joseph called his father Jacob to come in to meet Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
8Then Pharaoh said to him, “How old are you?”
9Jacob said to Pharaoh, “I have had a short life with many troubles. I am only 130 years old. My father and his ancestors lived to be much older than I am.”
10Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left from his meeting with him.
11Joseph did what Pharaoh said and gave his father and brothers land in Egypt. It was the best land in Egypt, in the eastern part of the country, around Rameses. 12Joseph also gave his father, his brothers, and all their people the food they needed.
Joseph Buys Land for Pharaoh
13The famine got worse; there was no food anywhere in the land. Egypt and Canaan became very poor because of this bad time. 14People in the land bought more and more grain. Joseph saved the money and brought it to Pharaoh’s house. 15After some time, the people in Egypt and Canaan had no money left. They had spent all their money to buy grain. So the people of Egypt went to Joseph and said, “Please give us food. Our money is gone. If we don’t eat, we will die while you are watching.”
16But Joseph answered, “Give me your cattle, and I will give you food.” 17So the people used their cattle and horses and all their other animals to buy food. And that year, Joseph gave them food and took their animals.
18But the next year the people had no animals and nothing to buy food with. So they went to Joseph and said, “You know that we have no money left, and all our animals belong to you. So we have nothing left—only what you see—our bodies and our land. 19Surely we will die while you are watching. But if you give us food, we will give Pharaoh our land, and we will be his slaves. Give us seed so that we can plant. Then we will live and not die, and the land will grow food for us again.”
20So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. All the people in Egypt sold Joseph their fields. They did this because they were very hungry. 21And everywhere in Egypt all the people became Pharaoh’s slaves. 22The only land Joseph didn’t buy was the land that the priests owned. The priests didn’t need to sell their land because Pharaoh paid them for their work. So they used this money to buy food to eat.
23Joseph said to the people, “Now I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh. So I will give you seed, and you can plant your fields. 24At harvest time, you must give one-fifth of your crops to Pharaoh. You can keep four-fifths for yourselves. You can use the seed you keep for food and planting the next year. Now you can feed your families and your children.”
25The people said, “You have saved our lives. We are happy to be slaves to Pharaoh.”
26So Joseph made a law at that time in the land, and that law continues today. The law says that one-fifth of everything from the land belongs to the Pharaoh who owns all the land. The only land he does not own is the land of the priests.
Don’t Bury Me in Egypt
27Israel stayed in Egypt. He lived in the land of Goshen. His family grew and became very large. They became landowners there and did very well.
28Jacob lived in Egypt 17 years, so he was 147 years old. 29The time came when Israel knew he would soon die, so he called his son Joseph to him. He said, “If you love me, put your hand under my leg and make a promise.#47:29 put your hand … make a promise This was a sign of a very important promise that Jacob trusted Joseph to keep. Promise that you will do what I say and that you will be truthful with me. When I die, don’t bury me in Egypt. 30Bury me in the place where my ancestors are buried. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in our family grave.”
Joseph answered, “I promise that I will do what you say.”
31Then Jacob said, “Make a vow to me.” And Joseph vowed to him that he would do this. Then Israel laid his head back down on the bed.#47:31 Then Israel … on the bed Or “Then Israel bowed down at the head of his bed” or “Then Israel worshiped on the head of the staff.”
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