Sunday Preview (August 23rd edition)

You're invited to join us for worship services this upcoming Sunday at Adoration! Our morning sermon series through Genesis will continue with Genesis 47:13-31. As I (Pastor Norm) was preparing to preach on this passage, I really appreciated the comments made by Gordon Wenham (see below). Our afternoon sermon will pick up the exhortations of 1 Peter 2:13-17 and the Lord's will for us as we live under the civil authorities that He has appointed. This is an especially pertinent subject for us as we enter into another election campaign across the country. May the Lord bless us as we gather for worship and fellowship together!

Modern readers find it difficult to regard Joseph’s measures as benevolent. They look to us like exploitation of the destitute, who are forced to sell or mortgage animals, land, and their own freedom in order to stay alive. Joseph, the cunning agent, makes the most of their plight in order to enrich the crown. But this is to misread the account’s intentions. The OT law itself does not envisage the destitute simply being bailed out by the more well-to-do. Rather, if possible, members of a family should help their destitute relatives, just, as Joseph did, by buying their land and employing them as slaves (cf. Lev 25:13-55). This was viewed as a great act of charity, for as the Egyptians say to Joseph, “you have saved our lives” (47:25). It is within this context that Joseph’s actions must be judged. In Israel, those who became destitute and sold their land or themselves to a more prosperous relative or friend were given their land or freedom back in the year of Jubilee, which occurred every fifty years. Apparently, the Pharaoh was not so generous; he retained the land and people as his serfs in perpetuity. But Joseph cannot be blamed for that. He saved the Egyptians from famine and so carried out the scheme he had proposed after interpreting Pharaoh’s dream and demonstrated his God-given wisdom (42:36). In the longer perspective, Joseph’s actions partially fulfill the promise that “all the families of the earth shall find blessing in you and your descendants” (28:14; cf. 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4).
— Gordon Wenham, "Genesis 16-50" Word Biblical Commentary, p. 52