47 11 Joseph settled his father and brothers and gave them holdings in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land of Rameses, just as Pharaoh had said. 12 Joseph sustained his father, his brothers, and his father’s entire household, including the mouths of the little ones.
13 Of bread, there was none in all the land, because of the severity of the famine. The land of Egypt and the land of Canaan shriveled during the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the silver to be found in the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan in exchange for the grain which people bought. The silver was deposited in Pharaoh’s treasury. 15 When the silver from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan was exhausted, all of the Egyptians came to Joseph saying, “Bread! We need bread! Why should we die in front of your eyes? The silver is gone.”
16 Joseph said, “Give me your livestock. If the silver is gone, I will give you bread for your livestock.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them grain for the horses, flocks, cattle, and donkeys. He got them through that year with bread in exchange for all of their livestock.
18 When that year ran out, they came to him the next year saying, “We can’t hide from my lord that the silver is gone and the livestock belongs to my lord. Nothing remains for my lord than our dead bodies and our farmland. 19 Why should we die in front of your eyes? As for us, for our farmland—possess our farms and us in exchange for bread, and our farms and we will be slaves to Pharaoh. Give us seed that we can live and not die, and so that our farmland will not turn to desert.”
20 Joseph acquired all the farmland of Egypt for Pharaoh because every Egyptian sold his field when the famine deepened. The land became Pharaoh’s. 21 The people were resettled, town-by-town, throughout the borders of Egypt. 22 However, Joseph did not acquire the soil of the priests because the priests had a subsidy from Pharaoh, and they ate from the allotment from Pharaoh. Therefore, they did not sell their farmland.
23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have purchased you and your farmland for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Sow the soil. 24 When the harvest comes, you shall give one-fifth to Pharaoh. The other four parts are yours to seed the field, and to feed your household and your children.”
25 The people said, “You have kept us alive! May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” 26 So Joseph fixed a law lasting to this day: from Egypt’s soil, Pharaoh receives one-fifth. Only the soil of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.
27 Israel dwelled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. They took holdings there, bore fruit, and greatly multiplied. 28 Jacob lived in the land of Egypt for seventeen years. Jacob’s days, the years of his life, were seven years and a hundred and forty years. 29 Israel’s days neared death. He called his son Joseph, and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh, and act toward me with steadfast kindness—Do not bury me in Egypt! 30 When I lie down with my fathers, carry me up from Egypt and bury me in their place of burial.”
Joseph said, “I will do it according to your words.”
31 Israel said, “Swear to me!” and Joseph swore. Then Israel bowed, at the head of the bed.
Joseph settles his Hebrew family (different from his Egyptian family) in Rameses (a synonym for Goshen or a foreshadowing of the place of Hebrew enslavement).
Where there was no bread to be had in the inhabited world, Joseph fed his birth family.
All others had to pay for grain from which they could make sustaining bread. The silver from these transactions impoverished Egyptians, Canaanites, and others, while, correspondingly, the coffers of the Pharaoh were enriched.
Eventually, every form of economic transaction fails. It was not long before there was no silver to be had, outside of Pharaoh’s treasury.
Nonetheless, pleas for bread continued. Joseph then agrees to receive any remaining livestock in lieu of silver.
In relatively short order, hunger returns. A post-silver, post-livestock appeal for grain rises to Joseph. As before, Joseph shifts the required payment for grain to the soil itself and the lives of those living on it. Enslavement to Pharaoh was the cost of continued breathing and eating.
As has happened in every enslavement, relocation occurs. There is a removal of people from their place—a dislocation that removes community and organized resistance from people consolidates the power of Pharaoh (and, of course, Pharaoh’s administrator, Joseph). For a current example of this tradition, readers might see Netanyahu in the role of Joseph.
Note the church/state (priest/Pharaoh) connection that enriches the priests—with food and other perks from Pharaoh, priests are able to maintain their land.
Joseph offers the landless an offer they cannot refuse and remain alive. They become share-croppers with a tax level that will keep them poor (enslaved) in perpetuity.
Israel’s household profited in the same way as did the priests. They essentially had state support that privileged them. They were able to see their seed moving toward numbers such as the sand and stars.
As Jacob neared death, he called Joseph to promise for him not to be buried in Egypt, but with his ancestors in the cave purchased by Abraham
.Joseph was with Jacob for 17 years. Israel was with Joseph for 17 years. These numbers mark an identified episode.