So when the money failed in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us bread, for why should we die in your presence? For the money has failed. (Genesis 47:15)
In the initial stages of this famine, people would come to Joseph to buy grain. During that time he accumulated great wealth for Pharaoh. Eventually though, people began to run out of money, and it can be presumed, that those who still had it realized that you can’t coins and currency. In fact, the phrase “the money has failed” suggests that the economies of the world began to fail, thus hinting at future events.
It was at this point that Joseph suggested that the Egyptian people trade their livestock for grain, which they did. In effect, they turned their property over to the government in exchange for food. Unfortunately for them, that food only lasted for that first year and so they came back to Joseph.
When that year had ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is gone; my lord also has our herds of livestock. There is nothing left in the sight of my lord but our bodies and our lands. Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants of Pharaoh.” (Genesis 47:18-19)
Notice what happened here: desperate people were willing to give away their property and make themselves to be slaves to the government in exchange for security. If it was true then, it is true now. So many people are willing to exchange liberties for what they perceive to be security when in reality they are simply obligating themselves to serve a master other than God. To this notion, Ben Franklin is quoted as saying that, “Any society that will give up essential liberty to purchase a little security deserve neither and will lose both.”
The point is that, in Joseph’s day, the Egyptians were willing to sell themselves to the government in exchange for food. Prior to this, the Bible tells us that Esau willingly sold his birthright for food. There is a tendency among men to place more value on things that are temporal than those things that are eternal. With God’s people it should not be. While we understand that everyone needs food to exist, we also know that our Father knows this and He has promised to provide. We should never give in to the idea that some man or institution is our ultimate source; our Heavenly Father alone should be regarded as the source of our life and our well-being. As David said:
“Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7)
Blessings and Shalom,