Joseph Saves Many Lives
But there wasn’t any food in the whole area. In fact, there wasn’t enough food anywhere. The people of Egypt and Canaan lost their strength because there wasn’t enough food to go around. Joseph collected all the money in Egypt and Canaan. People paid it to him for the grain they were buying. And Joseph brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all the Egyptians came to Joseph. They said, “Give us food. What good would it do you to watch us all die? Our money is all gone.”
“Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “You say your money is gone. So I’ll trade you food for your livestock.” They brought their livestock to Joseph. He traded them food for their animals. They gave him their horses, sheep, goats, cattle and donkeys. He helped the people live through that year by trading them food for all their livestock.
When that year was over, they came to him the next year. They said, “We can’t hide the truth from you. Our money is gone. Our livestock belongs to you. We don’t have anything left to give you except our bodies and our land. What good would it do you to watch us die? Why should our land be destroyed? Trade us food for ourselves and our land. Then we and our land will belong to Pharaoh. Give us some seeds so we can live and not die. We don’t want the land to become a desert.”
So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. All the people of Egypt sold their fields. They did that because there wasn’t enough food anywhere. So the land became Pharaoh’s. Joseph made the people slaves from one end of Egypt to the other. But Joseph didn’t buy the land that belonged to the priests. They received a regular share of food from Pharaoh. They had enough food from what Pharaoh gave them. That’s why they didn’t have to sell their land.
Joseph said to the people, “I’ve bought you and your land today for Pharaoh. So here are some seeds for you to plant in the ground. But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. Keep the other four-fifths for yourselves. They will be seeds for the fields. And they will be food for yourselves, your children, and the other people who live with you.”
“You have saved our lives,” they said. “If you are pleased with us, we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”
So Joseph made a law about land in Egypt. It’s still the law today. A fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land belonging to the priests didn’t become Pharaoh’s.
The people of Israel lived in Egypt in the area of Goshen. They received property there. They had children and so became many.
Jacob lived 17 years in Egypt. He lived a total of 147 years. The time came near for Israel to die. So he sent for his son Joseph. He said to him, “If you are pleased with me, put your hand under my thigh. Promise me that you will be kind and faithful to me. Don’t bury me in Egypt. When I join the members of my family who have already died, carry me out of Egypt. Bury me where they are buried.”
“I’ll do exactly as you say,” Joseph said.
“Give me your word that you will do it,” Jacob said. So Joseph gave him his word. And Israel worshiped God as he leaned on the top of his walking stick.
Ephraim and Manasseh
Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is sick.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him. Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you.” So Israel became stronger and sat up in bed.
Jacob said to Joseph, “The Mighty God appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan. He blessed me there. He said to me, ‘I am going to give you children. I will make your family very large. I will make you a community of nations. And I will give this land to your children after you. It will belong to them forever.’
“Now then, two sons were born to you in Egypt. It happened before I came to you here. They will be counted as my own sons. Ephraim and Manasseh will belong to me, in the same way that Reuben and Simeon belong to me. Any children born to you after them will belong to you. Any territory they receive will come from the land that will be given to Ephraim and Manasseh. As I was returning from Paddan, Rachel died. It made me very sad. She died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way. We weren’t very far away from Ephrath. So I buried her body there beside the road to Ephrath.” Ephrath was also called Bethlehem.
Israel saw Joseph’s sons. He asked, “Who are they?”
“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.
Then Israel said, “Bring them to me. I want to give them my blessing.”
Israel’s eyes were weak because he was old. He couldn’t see very well. So Joseph brought his sons close to him. His father kissed them and hugged them.
Israel said to Joseph, “I never thought I’d see your face again. But now God has let me see your children too.”
Then Joseph lifted his sons off Israel’s knees. Joseph bowed down with his face to the ground. He placed Ephraim on his right, toward Israel’s left hand. He placed Manasseh on his left, toward Israel’s right hand. Then he brought them close to Israel. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head. He did it even though Ephraim was the younger son. He crossed his arms and put his left hand on Manasseh’s head. He did it even though Manasseh was the older son.
Then Israel gave Joseph his blessing. He said,
“May God bless these boys.
He is the God of my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac.
They walked faithfully with him.
He is the God who has been my shepherd
all my life right up to this day.
He is the Angel who has saved me from all harm.
May he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name.
May they also be called by the names of my grandfather Abraham and my father Isaac.
And may the number of them greatly increase
on the earth.”
Joseph saw his father putting his right hand on Ephraim’s head. And Joseph didn’t like it. So he took hold of his father’s hand to move it over to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No, my father. Here’s my older son. Put your right hand on his head.”
But his father wouldn’t do it. He said, “I know, my son. I know. He too will become a nation. He too will become great. But his younger brother will be greater than he is. His children after him will become a group of nations.” On that day, Jacob gave them his blessing. He said,
“The people of Israel will bless others in your name.
They will say, ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’ ”
So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.
Then Israel said to Joseph, “I’m about to die. But God will be with all of you. He’ll take you back to the land of your fathers. But to you, Joseph, I am giving more land than your brothers. I’m giving you the land I took from the Amorites. I took it with my sword and bow.”