Monday, June 10, 2013

Genesis 47: Just Turn Them Into Slaves

Today's Podcast

Jacob's Family Settles in Goshen (v. 1-12)

Joseph took some of his brothers to Pharaoh and asked his permission to move to Goshen, Pharaoh said sure. The Joseph brought Jacob in to see Pharaoh and Jacob blessed the Pharaoh twice. Pharaoh asked how old he is and Jacob replied 130 years. Interestingly, Jacob also said his life has contained evil and is shorter than the life of his fathers.

Jacob blessing the Pharaoh seems strange to me, but I guess Jacob was incredibly successful. Perhaps one powerful person blessing another is just a sign of respect. Still the person in need blessing the person with plenty seems backwards.

According to Guzik, I seem to have the right idea here
Pharaoh acknowledged Jacob was a man of God by accepting his blessing. In the Egyptian religion, Pharaoh himself was thought to be a god. They considered Pharaoh the human embodiment of Ra, the sun god. This means that it was remarkable that he allowed Israel to bestow a blessing on him.
I try to take things at face value for my analysis as much as possible, but it seems to me that this was likely inserted here to add legitimacy to the story. "Look, even the powerful Pharaoh accepted Jacob's blessing". Obviously just a guess, but the whole thing certainly seems strange.

I also found the idea of evil in his life making him live less time interesting. I know people often claim that the people right after the fall lived very long (~900 years) and their years grew shorter as sin crept in. As I recall, there's wasn't a lot of actual biblical evidence for that, is this some indication of that type of thing? Furthermore, is the claim that sin will generally make people live shorter lives? This seems like it could be easily falsified.

I love how Guzik just reads into this whatever he wants to see. In describing how old he is, Jacob uses the word pilgrimage, and it is interpreted this way
Jacob confessed he was on a pilgrimage. He knew that his real home was somewhere else: heaven.
Didn't they not even have an idea of heaven back then, but instead it was all about living on through your offspring? I wish I had a good reference for this, but I'm pretty damn sure that the whole concept of heaven didn't come along until much later.

Joseph and the Famine (v. 13-31)

The famine was very harsh and everyone used all of their money to buy food from Joseph, which went into the coffers of the Pharaoh. The people then complained that they had no money and had to buy food, so Joseph said he would take their livestock. The next year they came back and said they had no food or animals and Joseph gave them food in exchange for their land and for them to work the land as slaves to Pharaoh. Since the Pharaoh owns the land, from now on he will get 20% of whatever is produced.

The biggest problem I have here is that they are buying their own food back from the government. They got taxed very severely in the times of plenty and are now having to give up everything they own to get the food back that they grew themselves. Then at the end it is declared that since they are owned by the Pharaoh they have to pay him 20% of whatever they make from now on. But that's what they had to pay for the 7 years before the famine, so what has changed? They should have just given the food back to the people, when people are starving, how does it make sense to give them food in exchange for their ability to produce more food in the future?

Jacob lived another 17 years and they prospered in Egypt, but when he was about to die he made Joseph promise to bury him where his fathers were buried rather than in Egypt.

Wait a minute, I can't believe I didn't notice this until just now. Jacob had two fathers, apparently gay marriage is endorsed in the bible. Case closed.

1 comment:

  1. In perusing about the way Joseph took care of the economy of Egypt and its resulting impact on the general population you may be left with blended feelings. Was Joseph a saint or a goat? Is it true that he was a companion of the general population or a pawn of Pharaoh? Is it accurate to say that he was doing Gods will or not? These are great inquiries that merit further investigation. Pharaoh's land


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