Chapter 47

  1. Pharaoh Welcomes Jacob

    • Joseph told Pharaoh that his father, his brothers, and all of their families had brought their sheep and cattle and were in Goshen.

      • Goshen is not referred to in ancient Egyptian texts; the name it bore in later Egyptian writings was “the region of Rameses” (Genesis 47:11; Exodus 1:11) It was fertile and near Joseph’s court which suggests that it was on the eastern side of the Nile delta.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • Joseph brought five of his brothers to Pharaoh and Pharaoh asked them what their occupation was.

    • His brothers responded that they were shepherds and that they had come to live in Egypt for a while because the famine in Canaan, where they had come from, was so severe that their herds didn’t have anywhere to graze. They asked the Pharaoh if they could settle in Goshen.

    • Pharaoh told Joseph that they could settle the best part of Egypt, the land of Goshen. Pharaoh then told Joseph that if any of his brothers were especially good shepherds, to put them in charge of Pharaoh’s livestock.

    • Joseph brought his father, Jacob, to Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed the Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked Jacob how old he was.

    • Jacob responded, “I am 130 years old and I have had a hard life, but my life is short compared to the lives of my ancestors.” Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left.

      • Jacob’s words should not be taken to mean that his lifespan of 130 years to that point was shorter than average. In Psalm 90:10, Moses observed: ‘Our lives last seventy years or, if we are strong eighty years.’ Jacob was comparing his lifetime, which would end at 147 years, with those of his father Isaac (180 years; Genesis 35:28), and his grandfather, Abraham (175 years; Genesis 25:7). (HCSB commentary)

      • Guzik points out the significance of the fact that Pharaoh accepted Jacob’s blessing, “Pharaoh acknowledged Jacob was a man of God by accepting his blessing. In the Egyptian religion, Pharaoh himself was thought to be a god. They considered Pharaoh the human embodiment of Ra, the sun god. This means that it was remarkable that he allowed Israel to bestow a blessing on him.”

    • So, Joseph settled his father and brothers in the land of Rameses just as Pharaoh had commanded. He also provided his father, brothers, and their households with the appropriate amount of provisions according to the number of their dependents.

  1. The Land Becomes Pharaoh’s

    • Eventually, the famine became so severe that no food grew at all. People from Egypt and Canaan spent all the money that they had to buy grain from Pharaoh. When the people ran out of money, they came to Joseph and said, “We have no more money to buy food. Please give us food or we will all die.”

    • Joseph told them all to trade in their livestock for a year’s supply of food and they did .

    • The next year, the people returned, telling Joseph that they had nothing left to trade for food but their own bodies and their land. They offered their land and offered to give themselves as slaves to Pharoah in return for food so that they wouldn’t die.

    • So, Joseph bought all the land for Pharaoh, and the people became Pharaoh’s slaves. The only land Joseph didn’t buy was the land that belonged to the priests, because they already received a food allotment from Pharaoh, so they didn’t need to buy food.

      • “While the famine effectively erased the wealth and holdings of the people of Egypt and Canaan (verses 13-26), Joseph took good care of his family, allowing them to be virtually insulated from the famine’s devastating impact…When Joseph was made second-in-command to Pharaoh in the land of Egypt, his mission was to serve Pharaoh’s best interest (41:40-44). In discharging his task, Joseph acquired most of the property of Egypt in the name of Pharaoh…but the people were so grateful to Joseph for their survival that they were quite willing to be “Pharaoh’s slaves” (verse 25).” (HCSB commentary)

    • Joseph told the people, “Today, I have bought you and your land for Pharaoh. I’ll give you seed so that you can plant the fields. When you harvest, give 1/5th to Pharaoh and keep the remainder to feed your families and to use as seed to plant in the fields.”

      • “Joseph wasn’t unfair. He fed the people when they would have starved, and in return asked for one-fifth (20%) annually from the produce of the land. Many people today would be happy with only 20% in total taxes.” (Guzik)

    • The people responded, “You have saved our lives! We will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”

    • So Joseph made a law in Egypt that is still in effect today: Pharaoh receives 1/5th of all the produce grown on his land. The priests’ land was the only land not owned by Pharaoh.

  1. Israel Settles in Goshen

    • Meanwhile, Jacob and his family settled in the region of Goshen, in Egypt. They bought property, were very fruitful, and their population grew very quickly.

      • Guzik quotes Henry Morris, “Henry Morris calculated the initial group of five (Jacob and his four wives) grew into a clan of about 100 in 50 years (the 100 includes the 70 of Genesis 46:27 plus a few wives of the sons not mentioned and grandchildren). That is a growth rate of just over 6% per year. At that rate, there would be several million descendants by the time of the Exodus 430 years later.”

    • Jacob lived for a total of 147 years and the last seventeen years of his life, he lived in Egypt.

    • When Jacob’s life was coming to an end, he called Joseph to him and said, “Please do this favor for me. Put your hand under my thigh and swear that you will show your love for me by honoring my last request. Don’t bury me in Egypt. When I die, bury me in my ancestors’ burial place.”

      • “To put your hand under another’s thigh and make a promise was, in ancient cultures, a most solemn way of committing yourself to carry out that promise.” (HCSB commentary)

      • “Jacob wanted to be buried with Abraham and Isaac in the cave of Machpelah.” (NLT Illustrated Study Bible)

    • Joseph said that he would do as he asked. Jacob asked Joseph to swear to him, so he did. Then Jacob bowed down in thanks at the head of his bed.