And as for the people, he moved them into the cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt to the other end. Only the land of the priests he did not buy; for the priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh, and they ate their rations which Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their lands. (Genesis 47:21-22)
Because the people had turned over their property to Pharaoh and no longer had claim of ownership, the Egyptians were forced to go where the government determined they must. It would seem that many were compelled to go into the cities which served as food distribution points. In short, they had to go to where the food was. But as the text indicates, there were exceptions to this — the heathen priests. They didn’t have to sell their lands because their food was already provided for them by Pharaoh. This is an interesting point because, according to rabbinical commentary, this had future ramifications that are of interest to us.
“By giving a privileged status to the clergy, Joseph established a precedent that made it possible for the tribe of Levi to be exempt from the servitude to which the Egyptians later subjected the other tribes, so that there would be a strong nucleus of people who kept alive the teachings of the Patriarchs.”
In other words, it would seem that when all the other tribes were forced into labor crews, the priestly tribe of Levi, the tribe of Aaron and Moses, were exempted. That is not to say that they escaped the tyranny completely but suggests that they enjoyed a certain freedom of movement. Consider that before Israel was liberated by the hand of God, Aaron went out to meet Moses at Sinai (Exodus 4:27). He also went with Moses to meet with Pharaoh (Exodus 5:1).
This suggests that, even though God’s people have been and will be subjected to persecution, God has always found a way to have a remnant of people who are able to perform His will. In seasons of testing there have been those who have, unfortunately perished; some have gone into captivity. Still, there have been and will always be those few that God uses in the worst of circumstances to bring about salvation for all of His people. I will suggest to you that those are likely candidates for what the Bible calls the Bride; those who truly know the Bridegroom. That’s who I want to be — how about you?
Blessings and Shalom,