Pharaoh engages in a conversation with Jacob, who affirms that they are indeed shepherds. In a generous act, Pharaoh grants them permission to settle in the prime land of Egypt, providing them with sustenance while the surrounding regions suffer from severe famine. The famine becomes so dire that people are compelled to sell all their possessions and eventually offer themselves as servants to Pharaoh. In return for food and seed, Pharaoh imposes a requirement for everyone to give one-fifth of their produce as tribute.
Meanwhile, Israel (Jacob) nears the end of his life and, recognizing the significance of his burial place, extracts a solemn oath from Joseph. He insists that he be laid to rest in Canaan, alongside his ancestors.
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.
This chapter leads me to contemplate Joseph’s character in a different light, as someone whom God uses despite his flaws. It appears that Joseph derives pleasure from wielding his authority as a ruler in Egypt. He permits the people to sell their possessions and even themselves, despite having access to abundant food all along. His actions seem to lack a sense of mercy towards the people.
However, it is important to remember that our understanding of God’s plan and the complexities of human behavior may be limited. While Joseph’s actions may appear harsh, it is possible that God was working through him to accomplish a greater purpose, even if we struggle to comprehend it. The narrative invites us to grapple with the tension between Joseph’s actions and God’s overarching plan, reminding us of the intricate ways in which God’s will can be fulfilled through imperfect individuals.