Genesis 47:19
Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.
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47:13-26 Care being taken of Jacob and his family, which mercy was especially designed by Providence in Joseph's advancement, an account is given of the saving the kingdom of Egypt from ruin. There was no bread, and the people were ready to die. See how we depend upon God's providence. All our wealth would not keep us from starving, if rain were withheld for two or three years. See how much we are at God's mercy, and let us keep ourselves always in his love. Also see how much we smart by our own want of care. If all the Egyptians had laid up corn for themselves in the seven years of plenty, they had not been in these straits; but they regarded not the warning. Silver and gold would not feed them: they must have corn. All that a man hath will he give for his life. We cannot judge this matter by modern rules. It is plain that the Egyptians regarded Joseph as a public benefactor. The whole is consistent with Joseph's character, acting between Pharaoh and his subjects, in the fear of God. The Egyptians confessed concerning Joseph, Thou hast saved our lives. What multitudes will gratefully say to Jesus, at the last day, Thou hast saved our souls from the most tremendous destruction, and in the season of uttermost distress! The Egyptians parted with all their property, and even their liberty, for the saving of their lives: can it then be too much for us to count all but loss, and part with all, at His command, and for His sake, who will both save our souls, and give us an hundredfold, even here, in this present world? Surely if saved by Christ, we shall be willing to become his servants.The seventh year is now come. The silver and cattle are now gone. Nothing remains but their lands, and with these themselves as the serfs of the soil. Accordingly they make this offer to Joseph, which he cannot refuse. Hence, it is evident that Pharaoh had as yet no legal claim to the soil. In primeval times the first entrants into an unoccupied country became, by a natural custom, the owners of the grounds they held and cultivated. The mere nomad, who roamed over a wide range of country, where his flocks merely cropped the spontaneous herbage, did not soon arrive at the notion of private property in land. But the husbandman, who settled on a promising spot, broke up the soil, and sowed the seed, felt he had acquired by his labor a title to the acres he had cultivated and permanently occupied, and this right was instinctively acknowledged by others. Hence, each cultivator grew into the absolute owner of his own farm. Hence, the lands of Egypt belonged to the peasantry of the country, and were at their disposal. These lands had now become valueless to those who had neither provisions for themselves nor seed for their ground. They willingly part with them, therefore, for a year's provision and a supply of seed. In this way the lands of Egypt fell into the hands of the crown by a free purchase. "And the people he removed into the cities." This is not an act of arbitrary caprice, but a wise and kind measure for the more convenient nourishment of the people until the new arrangements for the cultivation of the soil should be completed. The priestly class were sustained by a state allowance, and therefore, were not obliged to alienate their lands. Hence, they became by this social revolution a privileged order. The military class were also exempted most probably from the surrender of their patrimonial rights, as they were maintained on the crown lands.16. And Joseph said, Give your cattle—"This was the wisest course that could be adopted for the preservation both of the people and the cattle, which, being bought by Joseph, was supported at the royal expense, and very likely returned to the people at the end of the famine, to enable them to resume their agricultural labors." Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, i.e. whilst thou lookest upon us like an idle spectator, not pitying and relieving us? The land is said to die improperly, when it is desolate and barren, and when the fruits of it die, or, which is equivalent to it, do not live.

We and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh; Pharaoh shall be the sole proprietor, and we are content to be his tenants, to manage it for his use.

Give us seed, because this was the last year of famine, as Joseph informed them, and therefore they tilled and sowed the ground for the following year.

That the land be not desolate, without inhabitants, as it will be if thou sufferest us to die for want of bread.

Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land?.... Beholding their miserable condition, and not helping them; die they must unless they had bread to eat, and their land die also if they had not seed to sow; that is, would become desolate, as the Septuagint version renders it; so Ben Melech observes, that land which is desolate is as if it was dead, because it produces neither grass nor fruit, whereas when it does it looks lively and cheerful:

buy us and our land for bread; they were willing to sell themselves and their land too for bread to support their lives, nothing being dearer to a man than life:

and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh; both should be his; they would hold their land of him, and be tenants to him:

and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land may not be desolate; entirely so; some parts of it they could sow a little upon, as on the banks of the Nile, or perhaps that river might begin to overflow, or they had some hopes of it, especially from Joseph's prediction they knew this was the last year of famine, and therefore it was proper to sow the ground some time in this, that they might have a crop for the provision of the next year; and they had no seed to sow, and if they were not furnished with it, the famine must unavoidably continue, notwithstanding the flow of the Nile.

Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our {f} land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die, that the land be not desolate.

(f) For unless the ground is tilled and sown, it perishes and is as if it was dead.

Genesis 47:19When that year had passed (תּתּם, as in Psalm 102:28, to denote the termination of the year), they came again "the second year" (i.e., after the money was gone, not the second of the seven years of famine) and said: "We cannot hide it from my lord (אדוני, a title similar to your majesty), but the money is all gone, and the cattle have come to my lord; we have nothing left to offer to my lord but our bodies and our land." אם כּי is an intensified כּי following a negation ("but," as in Genesis 32:29, etc.), and is to be understood elliptically; lit., "for if," sc., we would speak openly; not "that because," for the causal signification of אם is not established. תּם with אל is constructio praegnans: "completed to my lord," i.e., completely handed over to my lord. לפני נשׁאר is the same: "left before my lord," i.e., for us to lay before, or offer to my lord. "Why should we die before thine eyes, we and our land! Buy us and our land for bread, that we may be, we and our land, servants (subject) to Pharaoh; and give seed, that we may live and not die, and the land become not desolate." In the first clause נמוּת is transferred per zeugma to the land; in the last, the word תּשׁם is used to describe the destruction of the land. The form תּשׁם is the same as תּקל in Genesis 16:4.
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