The Plan of God in the Book of Genesis—Part 33

Presentation to Pharaoh


VERSES 1-6  “Then Joseph came and told Pharaoh, and said, My father and my brethren, and their flocks, and their herds, and all that they have, are come out of the land of Canaan; and behold they are in the land of Goshen.
“And he took some of his brethren, even five men, and presented them unto Pharaoh.
“And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.
“They said moreover unto Pharaoh, For to sojourn in the land are we come; for thy servants have no pasture for their flocks; for the famine is sore in the land of Canaan: now therefore, we pray thee, let thy servants dwell in the land of Goshen.
“And Pharaoh spake unto Joseph, saying, Thy father and thy brethren are come unto thee:
“The land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and brethren to dwell; in the land of Goshen let them dwell: and if thou knowest any men of activity among them, then make them rulers over my cattle.”

Inasmuch as Pharaoh had previously instructed Joseph to send for his father and family, and had even provided wagons in which to help make the journey from Canaan to Egypt, it was fitting that representatives of his people be presented to Pharaoh that he might have an opportunity to make them officially welcome in the land. Having previously instructed his brethren in what to say when questioned by the king, this meeting turned out very satisfactorily.

The “best of the land” was officially assigned to the Hebrew children by Pharaoh, and he requested that if any of Joseph’s family were qualified they should be made rulers over his cattle. In this Pharaoh also acted wisely, for if Joseph’s people were experienced herdsmen, his own cattle would be much better off in their care than in the care of Egyptians, especially when by nature they despised such an occupation.

VERSES 7-12  “And Joseph brought in Jacob his father, and set him before Pharaoh: and Jacob blessed Pharaoh.
“And Pharaoh said unto Jacob, How old art thou?
“And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage.
“And Jacob blessed Pharaoh, and went out from before Pharaoh.
“And Joseph placed his father and his brethren, and gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had commanded.
“And Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren, and all his father’s household, with bread, according to their families.”

Joseph then presented his beloved father, Jacob, to Pharaoh and according to the record, Pharaoh asked Jacob but one question; namely, his age. The patriarch was somewhat apologetic, for while he was then 130 years of age, he evidently felt that he appeared much older. As an explanation he said that his life had been filled with evil: a reference, no doubt, to his many sorrows, beginning when he fled from Esau and including his loss of Joseph over a period of so many years. Yet, in spite of these sorrows, the Lord had blessed him, and now particularly at the end, by permitting him to be reunited with his beloved son, Joseph. While Jacob lived for seventeen years after this, he still came short by twenty-eight years, of living to Abraham’s age.

Jacob “blessed” Pharaoh. We are not to suppose from this that the patriarch performed any special ceremony over Pharaoh. Probably the thought merely is that he wished him well, perhaps even going so far as to express the equivalent of what we have in mind today when we say, “God bless you.” Certainly, under the circumstances, Jacob would feel most kindly toward Pharaoh, and naturally would like to see him prosper, for the patriarch’s own welfare and that of his family were now dependent upon the peace and prosperity of Egypt and her king—at least for the time being.

This might be comparable to the instructions given in the New Testament that we should pray for kings and those in authority that we, as the Lord’s people, might prosper spiritually and be at peace. (I Tim. 2:1,2) Throughout all the ages during which the preparatory features of God’s plan have been developing, his people have been his special care; and the lives of others have been overruled by him only as they may have had a bearing on the lives of his own people, or in the outworking of his plan. However, this has not always been in order that they might have a tranquil and prosperous life; for the Lord in his wisdom often permits his people, for their testing and development, to have severe trials. Nevertheless he cares for them, both in joy and in sorrow, as was abundantly demonstrated in the experiences he permitted to come to Jacob.

Doubtless, the last years of Jacob and his family in Canaan were rather lean ones, and this may be the reason special emphasis is given to the fact that when they finally were settled in Goshen, it is said that “Joseph nourished his father, and his brethren.” When Jacob arrived in Goshen he evidently was quite weak, and, as he thought, ready to die. Actually, however, he lived seventeen years after this, and perhaps it was due partly to the fact that being properly nourished, his ebbing strength was temporarily renewed.

VERSES 13-26  “And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine.
“And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, for the corn which they bought: and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.
“And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth.
“And Joseph said, Give your cattle; and I will give you for your cattle, if money fail.
“And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.
“When that year was ended, they came unto him the second year, and said unto him, We will not hide it from my lord, how that our money is spent; my lord also hath our herds of cattle; there is not aught left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands:
“Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.
“And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them: so the land became Pharaoh’s.
“And as for the people, he removed them to cities from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
“Only the land of the priests bought he not; for the priests had a portion assigned them of Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them: wherefore they sold not their lands.
“Then Joseph said unto the people, Behold, I have bought you this day and your land for Pharaoh: lo, here is seed for you, and ye shall sow the land.
“And it shall come to pass in the increase, that ye shall give the fifth part unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.
“And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.
“And Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth part; except the land of the priests only, which became not Pharaoh’s.”

Joseph, in addition to loving God and his own people, was also a loyal servant of Pharaoh, as displayed in this progressive method by which he virtually made slaves, that is, to the central government of Egypt in which Pharaoh ruled supreme. We cannot suppose, however, that Joseph acted with any other motive than was for the best interests of all concerned. Certainly, had it not been that the Lord had revealed to him the facts concerning the seven years of plenty to be followed by seven years of famine, and gave him wisdom to meet the situation, probably most of the Egyptians would have perished. Thus, in reality, they owed their lives to him.

From this standpoint, it may be that we can draw a lesson concerning the manner in which the antitypical Joseph, that is, Christ, will deal with all mankind during the millennium. But first of all, as with Joseph, Christ gives life to his own people, his brethren, the church, providing them with the best—even the ‘High Calling’ of God.

Then, with the church cooperating, the whole world will be provided with the ‘Bread of Life,’ but not unconditionally. No, the world in the next age, even as the Egyptians in Joseph’s time, will eventually have to give up everything and place themselves wholly at the mercy of the Christ in order to secure the ‘Bread of Life’ which the antitypical Joseph will be able to give to them.

VERSES 27-31  “And Israel dwelt in the land of Egypt, in the country of Goshen; and they had possessions therein, and grew, and multiplied exceedingly.
“And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years: for the whole age of Jacob was an hundred forty and seven years.
“And the time drew nigh that Israel must die: and he called his son Joseph, and said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt:
“But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace. And he said, I will do as thou hast said.
“And he said, Swear unto me. And he sware unto him. And Israel bowed himself upon the bed’s head.”

Jacob and his family prospered exceedingly in the land of Goshen, and increased rapidly in number. Later, this brought trouble upon them when a new Pharaoh “which knew not Joseph,” came to the throne. (Exod. 1:8) Nevertheless, while Joseph lived, his people were protected, and the Lord’s blessings upon them were manifested, for the most part, in ways of pleasantness.

When he had been in Egypt seventeen years, Jacob realized that he had about reached the end of his life, so he sent for Joseph and secured an oath from him that he would take his body back to Canaan to the burial ground purchased by his grandfather, Abraham. We may understand from this an evidence of Jacob’s belief that his people were not to remain in Egypt forever, but that God would fulfill his promise and give them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession—a promise which soon will be fulfilled on a much more grand scale than Jacob probably realized.

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Dawn Bible Students Association
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