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.” (Genesis 47:23–27 (ESV)
The Hebrew word for servant is abadim. It means advisor, official, minister and finally, slave. However, the Egyptian people do not perceive Joseph to be a slave master but rather a savior due to his fiscal policies during the famine. They exclaimed, “You have saved our lives.” The people understood that Joseph had not enriched himself at the people’s expense.
One author writes, “In Joseph’s day, slaves were more like modern-day employees who have signed a contract of employment, and the master was akin to a self-employed person who has certain freedoms not shared by the contractual worker. Of course, good business owners today also have more concerns than their workers, for they must labor hard to keep people employed. Likewise, the slave owner bore a greater burden than the slave. The pharaoh is enriched under Joseph, but he must also supply seed and make sure everyone has enough to eat.”
In writing this account of Israel’s life under the administration of Joseph, Moses wanted the people of the Exodus to realize that life in Egypt had not always been difficult for their ancestors. It was there that the LORD providentially allowed them to gain possessions, to be fruitful and to increase in population. This was the same LORD who would lead the people from Egypt back to the land of Canaan.
Much like when he was a teenager caring for father’s flocks (Gen. 37:1-5). Joseph was a shepherd to the people of Israel. He evidenced the same care, leadership, love and affection for the people of Egypt. While saving the people from physical death, He typified the Lord Jesus Christ who saves His people from spiritual death (John 10:11-18).
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “So God blessed His people according to the promises He made to Abraham. They were fast becoming a great nation. Moreover, God blessed Pharaoh because he had blessed the seed of Abraham with the best of Egypt. Later in the time of Moses, when another Pharaoh oppressed Israel, God dealt harshly with the Egyptians.”
God kept His promises to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). The LORD keeps His promises today. He is trustworthy, dependable and worthy of worship. Have a blessed day in the LORD.
Soli deo Gloria!