I don’t of very many people who have not watched or played at least one game of Monopoly. I played it as a kid. I quickly learned from playing the game with my friends and family that I needed a strategy to gain all the property, build hotels and retain a “savings” in order to monopolize my opponents. It was a slow and steady process but, in the end, barring no jail time and avoiding the “high rent” district, you could win the game.
Later in life, I would teach my kids and then my grandkids the game. Monopoly is a great tool to teach the strategy of finance and management. Monopoly is not for the faint of heart or for those with short attention spans. It is a thinking game which is fun for me.
I think of the game of Monopoly as I read our passage. Observe how Joseph leads Egypt through a great famine. As we read, watch as Joseph continually strategizes plans that will help the Egyptians and his own people who have come to live nearby in the land of Goshen. God is continually with him. God’s plan is to build a nation of His people, a people who will love Him back—through famine and eventual slavery to Egypt. God is in control of the circumstances. He has not left the building, (or the building of the nation of Israel), so to speak. He is working through the man he placed in a high position to protect his people who are growing in great numbers. Through good times and bad, God is with them.
Genesis 47, The Message
Joseph went to Pharaoh and told him, “My father and brothers with their flocks and herds and everything they own have come from Canaan. Right now they are in Goshen.”
2-3 He had taken five of his brothers with him and introduced them to Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked them, “What kind of work do you do?”
3-4 “Your servants are shepherds, the same as our fathers were. We have come to this country to find a new place to live. There is no pasture for our flocks in Canaan. The famine has been very bad there. Please, would you let your servants settle in the region of Goshen?”
5-6 Pharaoh looked at Joseph. “So, your father and brothers have arrived—a reunion! Egypt welcomes them. Settle your father and brothers on the choicest land—yes, give them Goshen. And if you know any among them that are especially good at their work, put them in charge of my own livestock.”
7-8 Next Joseph brought his father Jacob in and introduced him to Pharaoh. Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh asked Jacob, “How old are you?”
9-10 Jacob answered Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourning are 130—a short and hard life and not nearly as long as my ancestors were given.” Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and left.
11-12 Joseph settled his father and brothers in Egypt, made them proud owners of choice land—it was the region of Rameses (that is, Goshen)—just as Pharaoh had ordered. Joseph took good care of them—his father and brothers and all his father’s family, right down to the smallest baby. He made sure they had plenty of everything.
* * *
13-15 The time eventually came when there was no food anywhere. The famine was very bad. Egypt and Canaan alike were devastated by the famine. Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan to pay for the distribution of food. He banked the money in Pharaoh’s palace. When the money from Egypt and Canaan had run out, the Egyptians came to Joseph. “Food! Give us food! Are you going to watch us die right in front of you? The money is all gone.”
16-17 Joseph said, “Bring your livestock. I’ll trade you food for livestock since your money’s run out.” So they brought Joseph their livestock. He traded them food for their horses, sheep, cattle, and donkeys. He got them through that year in exchange for all their livestock.
18-19 When that year was over, the next year rolled around and they were back, saying, “Master, it’s no secret to you that we’re broke: our money’s gone and we’ve traded you all our livestock. We’ve nothing left to barter with but our bodies and our farms. What use are our bodies and our land if we stand here and starve to death right in front of you? Trade us food for our bodies and our land. We’ll be slaves to Pharaoh and give up our land—all we ask is seed for survival, just enough to live on and keep the farms alive.”
20-21 So Joseph bought up all the farms in Egypt for Pharaoh. Every Egyptian sold his land—the famine was that bad. That’s how Pharaoh ended up owning all the land and the people ended up slaves; Joseph reduced the people to slavery from one end of Egypt to the other.
22 Joseph made an exception for the priests. He didn’t buy their land because they received a fixed salary from Pharaoh and were able to live off of that salary. So they didn’t need to sell their land.
23-24 Joseph then announced to the people: “Here’s how things stand: I’ve bought you and your land for Pharaoh. In exchange I’m giving you seed so you can plant the ground. When the crops are harvested, you must give a fifth to Pharaoh and keep four-fifths for yourselves, for seed for yourselves and your families—you’re going to be able to feed your children!”
25 They said, “You’ve saved our lives! Master, we’re grateful and glad to be slaves to Pharaoh.”
26 Joseph decreed a land law in Egypt that is still in effect, A Fifth Goes to Pharaoh. Only the priests’ lands were not owned by Pharaoh.
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27-28 And so Israel settled down in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property and flourished. They became a large company of people. Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years. In all, he lived 147 years.
29-30 When the time came for Israel to die, he called his son Joseph and said, “Do me this favor. Put your hand under my thigh, a sign that you’re loyal and true to me to the end. Don’t bury me in Egypt. When I lie down with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me alongside them.”
“I will,” he said. “I’ll do what you’ve asked.”
31 Israel said, “Promise me.” Joseph promised.
Israel bowed his head in submission and gratitude from his bed.
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
This is the historic background story of what lies ahead for God’s people before the great Exodus from this land of Egypt. Working for this Pharoah under Joseph’s direction was a necessary way to stay alive. Looking ahead…over the years new leadership will demand harsh, oppressive slavery from God’s people because “they are growing in great numbers and we must control them”. But God steps in to correct the situation.
Joseph was put in a position of power. After all that was done to Joseph by his brothers, he could have used his power to avenge and keep all the riches of Egypt for himself. But he did not. God-in-him, with God’s wisdom of strategic thinking, led Joseph to use the position to help everyone, God’s people and the Egyptians! Camp on that thought before we move on. Let us not lose this powerful lesson of what God does in us. God puts in places with purpose. His will and His purpose in us are used to help others know who He is. That’s how He works. That’s how His love works in us and through us. It’s not about us. Life is about God and His best for us—also known as His will working in and through us. I’m pretty sure Joseph came to understand exactly this way of thinking which led to his actions.
Know God. Know that nothing escapes the notice of God. God is with us. Always. We must respond to life knowing God and knowing He is with us and is always at work within us. Why? Because of His great love for us!
Another generation ends with Jacob death but is passed on to Joseph and his brothers. The story of God in his people is just beginning. The Genesis of God’s people teaches dramatic lessons about who God is and how He works in the lives of His beloved. Stay tuned!
You are amazing in your ways! Your love is boundless, unchanging, and limitless! Your mercies are fresh each day. Your grace is undeserved but accepted with tremendous gratitude. Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole. Thank you for your provisions and protection. Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do to transform my thinking and behaving to more like you in every way. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for not giving up on me.
In Jesus Name, Amen