March 13, 2019

Too Blessed to Be Stressed or Too Enslaved to Be Free? 

Genesis 47

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Jacob's Family Settles in Goshen

So Joseph went in and told Pharaoh, “My father and my brothers, with their flocks and herds and all that they possess, have come from the land of Canaan. They are now in the land of Goshen.” And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to his brothers, “What is your occupation?” And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were.” They said to Pharaoh, “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants' flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen, and if you know any able men among them, put them in charge of my livestock.”

Then Joseph brought in Jacob his father and stood him before Pharaoh, and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many are the days of the years of your life?” And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The days of the years of my sojourning are 130 years. Few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their sojourning.” 10 And Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from the presence of Pharaoh. 11 Then Joseph settled his father and his brothers 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. 12 And Joseph provided his father, his brothers, and all his father's household with food, according to the number of their dependents.

Joseph and the Famine

13 Now there was no food in all the land, for the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished by reason of the famine. 14 And Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought. And Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh's house. 15 And when the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? For our money is gone.” 16 And Joseph answered, “Give your livestock, and I will give you food in exchange for your livestock, if your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year. 18 And when that year was ended, they came to him the following year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent. The herds of livestock are my lord's. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we with our land will be servants to Pharaoh. And give us seed that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for all the Egyptians sold their fields, because the famine was severe on them. The land became Pharaoh's. 21 As for the people, he made servants of them1 from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.

23 Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. 24 And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.” 25 And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” 26 So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh's.

27 Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. 28 And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.

29 And when the time drew near that Israel must die, he called his son Joseph and said to him, “If now I have found favor in your sight, put your hand under my thigh and promise to deal kindly and truly with me. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but let me lie with my fathers. Carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burying place.” He answered, “I will do as you have said.” 31 And he said, “Swear to me”; and he swore to him. Then Israel bowed himself upon the head of his bed.2


[1] 47:21 Samaritan, Septuagint, Vulgate; Hebrew he removed them to the cities
[2] 47:31 Hebrew; Septuagint staff

Too Blessed to Be Stressed or Too Enslaved to Be Free? 

Key Verse | Genesis 47:27

Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly.



Bio | Patricia Simmons

I'm Patricia Simmons—blessed and loved by a Savior who gave His life for me. I am undeserving of this love (and so are you), but Jesus made a way when we were deep in sin (Romans 5:8). I am married to the best man I know, Bill. We have two daughters, one son-in-law, and four precious grands that are gifts from the Lord.

I serve in the Thursday Women's Bible Study. Nothing in my walk has given me more life than the study of God's Word and fellowship with these beautiful women. Come join me!

Central Truth

Every good and decent person will say slavery is evil, but in reality, we are all slaves—either to fear or to Christ. A major trial will reveal who owns us. We must make a choice: enslavement to this life or enslavement to the One who gives life and sets us free.

Devotional | Genesis 47

Genesis 47 can be a difficult section of Scripture when viewed through the lens of today's culture. Israel leaves Canaan and becomes extremely prosperous in the land of Egypt. In contrast, the people of Egypt are...

Genesis 47 can be a difficult section of Scripture when viewed through the lens of today's culture. Israel leaves Canaan and becomes extremely prosperous in the land of Egypt. In contrast, the people of Egypt are starving and give up everything just to survive. Why does God prosper Israel and preserve Egypt only through slavery?

The answer is found in God's covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). God promised to bless all nations through Abraham's descendants. God blesses Israel and uses Joseph to save a nation. Some say Joseph went too far by making the Egyptians slaves, but even the slaves say, "You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh." (Genesis 47:25) The Egyptians were happy to be alive while Israel prospered and lived in abundance. This seeming injustice is in reality God's fulfilled promise to His people.

The Egyptians valued their lives so much they gave up their money, material goods, and even their freedom just to survive. Harsh, but this is exactly what God requires of us as we pursue sanctification in becoming like Christ in the way we live: total and unconditional surrender. Egypt wanted immediate relief to sustain life, but didn't realize that everyone is terminal. Joseph's father, Jacob, had material abundance in Egypt, but his dying wish was to be carried back to Canaan, the land promised by God. He knew the good life in Egypt could never compare to the blessings of the Promised Land.

Don't we all face the danger of being in love with the goodies of now and forgetting the promises of God? He calls us to surrender self and rely on the death of Jesus Christ, which offers all the riches of heaven.

The Egyptians became slaves because they were afraid of dying. We willingly become slaves to Christ because we know that submission leads to freedom and life. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25)

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Discussion Questions

1. Why do some prosper in life while others struggle? Did you know the United States has six percent of the world's population but possesses half of the world's wealth? Why has God given us so much?

2. What things do we willingly become slaves to in this life? Lust, pornography, materialism, marital status, our bodies? Do we love something too much to give it up? If the answer is yes, please consider Watermark's recovery ministry, re:generation.

3. Christ died to give us the abundant life. Do you believe life in Christ gives us more than this world has to offer? If not, would you be willing to tell someone why you don't?

10 Comments available

Jay Caruso 2 months ago

This one was hard stuff to soak in to be able to give up everything I own for his glory I just need to be stronger and seek him even deeper and be able to reconcile it and be able to do that without hesitation

Patricia Simmons 2 months ago
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Greg Jones. Thank you for your honest comments as I too struggled with some of the realities of this passage. Verse 25 tells us the people we grateful to Joseph for saving their lives. As Sue points out, slavery was a means to survive and not the horrible atrocity we now know it to be. Israel prospering while Egypt starves is another harsh reality, but is the result of God’s Covenant. Joseph is not a perfect man as shown by his youthful boasting but isn’t it just like God to use imperfect people and situations throughout scripture! If God can use Joseph, Abraham, David, Peter, Paul and every other imperfect person in scripture to reveal His truths throughout history, He can use us to do the same. I find confort knowing the imperfect is made perfect only because of Christ.

Patricia Simmons 2 months ago
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Hope…I will be praying for your friend to hear the truth of what God asks of us. We must be all in with our walk with God. He asks nothing less because He gives us everything. God sent His only Son who was fully God and fully man, yet without sin to die a horrible death on our behalf. He was buried and raised from the dead so we have that same promise. Why would I not fully submit to The One who gives life? In God’s view, Submission=Life. That’s the only way to be truly free.

greg jones 2 months ago

Q1a Why do some prosper while others struggle?

In this story it seems to help the prosper column tremendously if 1-Joseph works for you. 2-You are related to Joseph by blood. 3-You are related to Joseph by marriage. 4-You are a priest and buddies with Joseph’s father in law the priest. I’m not CPA but I don’t think accounting principles allow for those reasons to go into the struggle column.

1b-That’s it?

1c-I’m going to quote Isaiah 55:9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.“

If nobody else needed to hear that, I did. Man is that not me in the mirror.

Sue Bohlin 2 months ago

Sweet Patricia! What a blessing to see your beautiful face and read your excellent devo this morning!

This chapter is so helpful for understanding the nature of slavery in the ancient world, how it differed from the modern human trafficking that is rightfully repugnant to us. People choosing to deal with the hopelessness of deep poverty by offering themselves as slaves who would then be taken care of by the owner, is very different from people being kidnapped and forced into a life where they would be treated like animals.

What also struck me was how both the Egyptians and Jacob bowed down; the Egyptians bowed in slavery to Pharaoh, but Jacob, a free man, bowed in worship to Yahweh. We’re all going to bow one way or the other. As Bob Dylan sang, “Gotta Serve Somebody.”

Michael Scaman 2 months ago

Joseph showed some diplomacy “And from among his brothers he took five men and presented them to Pharaoh.” Perhaps the most presentable and did not overwhelm Pharaoh with 12 brothers or a family of 70?

greg jones 2 months ago

So I think I’m reading this right. The Egyptians produce the abundance in the good years. Isreal moves into the land during the lean years. The Egyptians become slaves to keep what they produced. Israel’s state of mind Gen. 43:11-14, take all this stuff go down to Egypt and buy their food, risk the boy so we don’t die if we must.

I think Joseph could have made different choices and represented his God better to the Egyptian people in this situation. My opinion.

Hope Harris 2 months ago

Patricia so good to have you lead our devo this morning.

I am having a conversation with a younger lesbian who recently gave her life to Christ. She is knee deep in the weighing out the cost of surrender.

I am going to share your devo with her this morning. Pray for my new friend A as she takes her next steps

Lindsey Driscoll 2 months ago

Verse 47:7 and verse 47:10 we see Jacob blessing Pharoah. Dr. Constable notes “Jacob became a blessing to a Gentile world ruler, and so fulfilled God’s promise of becoming a blessing, partially. How could Jacob bless the leader of he time that had everything? He didn’t bow down to Pharoah, because He knew the one true God from who all blessing comes.

Hugh Stephenson 2 months ago

sojourner is - tôšâḇ - (Strong’s) a dweller; especially as distinguished from a native citizen and a temporary inmate (my favorite) or mere lodger, resident alien, foreigner, inhabitant, stranger, traveler.

Jacob did not bow before Pharaoh but blessed him twice. Boice notes that is odd for a shepherd who is an “abomination” to come in and bless Pharaoh, the earthly embodiment of Ra. Would not the expectation be for the most powerful god-man ruler of the greatest dynasty do the blessing?

Yet Pharaoh gives these “abominations” the best land in the midst of a seven year famine!

If God is truly my shepherd then my witness will be clear and even the most powerful pagan ruler will see and be amazed, (Hebrews 11:13).

Boice quotes FB Meyer “Those who are called as free are slaves to Him; and those who are slaves to men are free in Him.”

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