The Fruits of the Sun

“Of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land … with the choicest fruits of the sun.”
—Deuteronomy 33:13,14, Revised Standard Version

WHEN ISRAEL WAS ABOUT TO enter the promised land, after being led for forty years through the wilderness, Moses blessed each tribe. This was done before Moses went up into Mount Nebo to die. These were unique blessings, especially the one pronounced upon the tribe of Joseph. We also note that the pronouncing of this blessing upon Joseph was unusual because, in later dealings with Israel, the tribe was divided into the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the two sons of Joseph. The blessing reads, “Of Joseph he said, Blessed of the Lord be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath, And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon. (Deut. 33:13,14) The prophecy continues through verses fifteen to seventeen of Deuteronomy 33. Other translations, such as Rotherham and the Revised Standard Version, say, “the fruits of the sun” for Deuteronomy 33:14. Although earth’s agriculture is dependent upon the sun for the production of fruits, we think that more is involved than this function alone as a blessing for Joseph, as ‘fruits of the sun.’


During the last fifty years, a serious effort has been put forth by scientists to use solar energy to generate electric power. But initially these efforts have found it difficult to compete with the use of fossil fuel for this purpose. Two major problems existed with the first photovoltaic cells applied for this use—low efficiency and short life of the cells used. Steadily, improvements in both phases have been achieved, but the photovoltaic cell still cannot compete economically with fossil fuels. A recent article was published, on June 21, 2004, in the Chemical and Engineering News magazine updating this effort. The article was entitled “Power from the Sun” and had a subheading which said, “After decades of promise, solar energy science and production is on an upswing, but how far can solar go to solve the world’s energy ills?” The article starts by saying:

“Last year, world production of photovoltaic (pv) modules took another leap forward, up 32% from 2002 and continuing the sharp growth of recent years.


“Solar advocates like to point out that although it took nearly 30 years—until 1999—for the world to produce its first gigawatt (billion watts) of PV-supplied electricity, total PV production tripled in the following four years. Last year, the industry generated $5.2 billion in sales.

“The annual increase in growth was highest in Japan (45%) and Europe (43%), where government programs have helped residents buy rooftop PV units. In Japan, the cost of PV-generated electricity has declined so much that it is nearly matching that of electricity from traditional nonrenewable sources.

“For on-grid applications in the developed world, government subsidies are needed for PV to compete with existing power plants and electric grids that were built and paid off years ago, usually with taxpayer support. For off-grid rural installations, PV is economical.

“With scientific breakthroughs on the horizon and production costs dropping, advocates say solar energy is on the cusp of a huge expansion. Although they have been saying this for 30 years, this time they might be close to right. Advocates have big pluses in their favor, but many obstacles remain.


“On the plus side, PV is clean—no air pollution, no greenhouse gas emissions, and no coal or radioactive wastes to truck across the country and bury forever. There are fewer grid failure fears because PV electricity is usually generated where used. Its generation is silent and mostly unseen, and systems can be installed in highly populated areas. Drawing on the sun means no fuel costs, so once installed, PV electricity’s price is fixed for 20-plus years, the guaranteed life of the modules. And no terrorist is likely to blow up a rooftop PV module in an attempt to bring down the grid.

“But without subsidies, PV-generated electricity is usually 10 times more expensive than that generated by old U.S. coal-fired plants; four times more costly than natural gas units; twice as expensive as nuclear; and three or four times more costly than wind energy, its sister renewable source. PV-generated power is also unfamiliar to most potential users; there is usually no infrastructure to ease or encourage its use; and many people would just as soon get their electricity by flipping a switch, rather than running their own power plant.

“Last year’s record worldwide annual growth of 700 MW of peak PV power was equal to the output of one natural-gas-fired turbine, or less than half of a large coal or nuclear plant, notes Paul D. Maycock, president of PV Energy Systems. Maycock has tracked the industry for 30 years, starting at the Department of Energy back in the l970s.”

Mr. Maycock then made an estimate based on present rate of growth of PV units, and said:

“PV-generated electricity ‘is not a panacea,’ he says, ‘but it is clean, silent, non-toxic, non-hydrocarbon based, and reliable, and it will be economical for homes and business around the world by 2010.’” The article further said:

“Also, Worldwatch Researcher Janet L. Sawin notes that two billion people in the world don’t have electricity, and if the population of developing countries such as China and India begin to generate and use electricity like the U.S. does, increases in world pollution will be huge. For these reasons, Sawin, Maycock, and others argue that PV must be a key part of the world’s mix of electricity sources.”


The article tells how both Japan and Germany serve as models for government created programs for easing in PV-generated electric power. Both have subsidized the installation of rooftop PV modules. Furthermore, they have arranged for excess power to be sold to the utilities. This is why Japan leads the world in PV installations. The United States has fallen off tremendously in this respect. A tax incentive was established for PV installations by the Carter administration but was removed by the Reagan administration and no incentive has been reestablished since. However, states have started to fill in the void left by the Federal Government. California has started an incentive program with a subsidy for the purchase and installation of the PV units and a plan to buy the surplus electricity at retail rates. New Jersey is also following suit.


All of these PV units use the familiar silicon wafer module which has been in production for years. Some 89% of the modules made today are crystalline silicon cells. But last year about 3% of the production was in amorphous silicon thin film. The purpose of finding less expensive forms of silicon is to lower the cost.

Another article appeared in this same journal entitled “Photovoltaic Cells: Power at a Price.” The subheading read, “Use of solar cells, common in space missions, is taking off as science brings price down to Earth.” This article began by saying:

“Sunlight in, electricity out. The quest to achieve this transformation efficiently has been driving scientists in the field of photovoltaics for decades. From handheld calculators to Earth-orbiting satellites, power-production solar cells have been used in a variety of applications for years. Nonetheless, the push is on to develop new materials, processes, and technologies that boost the performance and efficiency of solar cells and dramatically lower their costs.

“Motivation to develop new power technologies comes from a variety of sources. Energy crises, such as last summer’s power outages across the United States East Coast, ‘make people aware of just how much we depend on electricity, because when the power goes out, all hell breaks loose,’ says Michael Grätzel, a chemistry professor and director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne.

“Grätzel has been studying solar power for two decades. But it’s only just recently that the topic’s popularity among the public has begun to surge, he notes. Power shortages, rising fuel prices, and concern about the environment and the extent of petroleum reserves are focusing attention on photovoltaics and other alternative energy resources.”

The article then describes the research work being done at Georgia Institute of Technology, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.


“The studies highlight distinct approaches to a common research goal: increasing the efficiency of photovoltaic cells by designing novel semiconductors. In the case of multijunction materials, distinct segments of the solar spectrum are absorbed using separate materials. In multi-gap materials, a single material absorbs multiple wavelengths of the sun’s light.

“From solar-powered calculators to solar system satellites, photovoltaic technology has proven itself to be reliable, durable, and in some cases fairly efficient—but at high cost. Some industry experts predict that over the next 25 years, the output from this alternative energy source will increase 1,000-fold. But those projections are predicated on cost reductions in solar cell materials and manufacturing methods and significant advances in performance relative to today’s systems.”

The article concludes that twenty-five years from today there will be a tremendous increase in use of photovoltaic cells, or energy gained from the sun. As Bible Students we would expect this to take place as we review how God has planned for man’s welfare and existence by his works of creation. In the early periods of God’s preparation of the Earth for habitation he laid down fossil fuels in the form of coal, oil, and natural gas.


Thomas Malthus, a British economist, predicted in 1798 that the world faced wholesale starvation, poverty, and distress because the earth’s population was increasing by a geometric ratio and the means of subsistence by an arithmetic ratio. What he didn’t know was that God would increase knowledge and learning in the last days of this present evil world. (Dan. 12:4) God also enabled man to find and utilize all the fossil fuels for this benefit. Thus, the coal that was found in England (and mined) along with the development of the steel industry using coke to make iron, were major factors in the industrial revolution which took place in England between the mid-eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries.

Inventions in that period of time made possible the steam engine and farm machinery which all contributed to the change from an agricultural society to an industrial society. Other nations followed Great Britain in this industrial revolution, and the predictions of Malthus did not materialize as man was able to cope with the exploding population.

Petroleum as a fossil fuel was not sought after until the invention and development of the gasoline engine. Although petroleum was known as a substance in ancient times, little effort was made to utilize it until in 1815 a few streets in Prague were lighted with kerosene lamps. The industry began in 1859 in America when E. L. Drake drilled an oil well in Titusville, PA. It was used at first to provide kerosene for lamps to replace candles and whale oil lamps. The advent of the automobile gasoline engine changed that demand, and today with natural gas it is a major source of energy.


Meanwhile, during the nineteenth century, much experimentation was going on with energy as electric power. By the turn of the twentieth century this form of power was being made available by large utility companies that had sprung up and advertised “electricity, the servant of the people.” Those living in developed countries have become so dependent upon this servant that any interruption of its service, like the east coast blackout of two years ago, creates havoc. We note again that two-billion people in underdeveloped countries have no electricity.

Therefore, we expect that one of the blessings of God’s kingdom will be the availability of this form of energy for their welfare. For this reason, the new research on photovoltaic cells to make them more efficient and low in cost is bound to succeed, as God illuminates the minds of men working on this project and some wonderful breakthroughs occur.


We believe that God is drawing this picture for us through Moses. When Moses, before his death, pronounced blessings upon the tribes of Israel, he gave the blessing to the tribe of Joseph instead of two of the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, the two sons of Joseph, as the inheritance in the land was later given. Joseph is used in the Scriptures to represent Jesus, or the Christ, head and body. Hence, the blessings Moses speaks of for the tribe of Joseph is in reality the blessings of God’s kingdom through Christ. Included in those blessings are “the fruits of the sun.” Everything that the sun has to offer in the way of agricultural blessings, and the sustenance of life, will be made available in God’s kingdom. Included in those blessings will be solar energy for everyone. This means energy readily available that is clean (nonpollutant), nontoxic, silent (no noise), and, above all, reliable. How typical it is for our wonderful Heavenly Father to provide his children with such a wonderful source of energy, as such will be derived so cleanly and easily from the sun. Praise be evermore to his blessed and holy name.

Dawn Bible Students Association
|  Home Page  |  Table of Contents  |