Joseph’s Wise Administration1 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 ▼
▼ 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. ▼
▼ Heb “and from the whole of his brothers he took five men and presented them before Pharaoh.”
3 Pharaoh said to Joseph’s ▼
▼ 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.” ▼
▼ Heb “both we and our fathers.”4 Then they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live as temporary residents ▼
▼ Heb “to sojourn.”in the land. There ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ Heb “men of skill.”among them, put them in charge ▼
▼ Heb “make them rulers.”▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ Heb “caused him to stand.”before Pharaoh. Jacob blessed ▼
▼ 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?” ▼
▼ Heb “How many are the days of the years of your life?”9 Jacob said to Pharaoh, “All ▼
▼ Heb “the days of.”the years of my travels ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ Heb “the days of.”the years of my life have been few and painful; ▼
▼ 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.” ▼
▼ 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. ▼
▼ Heb “from before Pharaoh.”
11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers. He gave them territory ▼
▼ 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, ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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. ▼
▼ Heb “house.”15 When the money from the lands of Egypt and Canaan was used up, all the Egyptians ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ The word “food” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.in exchange for ▼
▼ 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. ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates consequence.Pharaoh’s slaves. ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates purpose or result.and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.” ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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. ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.made all the people slaves ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ The perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive is equivalent to a command here.the land. 24 When you gather in the crop, ▼
▼ The words “the crop” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.give ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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, ▼
▼ 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.” ▼
26 So Joseph made it a statute, ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ Heb “the days of the years.”of Jacob’s life were 147 in all. 29 The time ▼
▼ 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 ▼ and show me kindness and faithfulness. ▼
▼ Or “deal with me in faithful love.”Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest ▼
▼ 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 ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.said, “I will do as you say.”
31 Jacob ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (Jacob) has been specified in the translation for clarity.said, “Swear to me that you will do so.” ▼
▼ Heb “swear on oath to me.” The words “that you will do so” have been supplied in the translation for clarity.So Joseph ▼
▼ Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.gave him his word. ▼
▼ Heb “swore on oath to him.”Then Israel bowed down ▼
▼ 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. ▼
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