Let Pharaoh take action and appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth," says our Lord, "where moth and rust do corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal." But this rule is not intended to prohibit us from providing in the time of plenty for a time of scarcity, as far as it can be done without neglecting the necessary duties of charity and piety, according to our circumstances. The poor ought not to want what their present necessities demand; but a provident care, in public governors, to guard against the mischiefs of famine, is requisite, chiefly for the sake of the lower ranks in society. If the superfluous produce of the earth had been given to the poor in the years of plenty, they must have been starved in the time of famine. No liberality to the poor ever deserved greater praise than Joseph's care to secure needful supplies both to the poor and rich. It was well ordered 'by the providence of God, for the safety of the people, that the years of famine were preceded by the years of plenty. If the seven years of famine had come before the years of plenty, few men would have been left to enjoy them. But from the years of plenty a sufficiency could be reserved to maintain life with comfort in the years of famine.
Joseph had probably been three years in prison (cf. ver. 1 with Genesis 40:4). Sorely must his faith have been tried. His brothers, who had plotted his death, prosperous; himself a slave, spending the best years of his life in prison; and that because he had been faithful to God and to his master. We know the end, and therefore hardly realize his desolate condition when no sign of anything but that he should live and die uncared for and forgotten. But the trial comes more home to us when some one for whom we care, or perhaps ourselves, "endure grief, suffering wrongfully;" when unsuspecting frankness has been overreached, or trust betrayed, or feebleness oppressed. We feel not only that wrong has been done, but as if there had been a failure in God's care. It is one thing to acknowledge the doctrine of God's providence, and quite another to feel it under pressure of trouble. A frequent mistake to think of suffering as calling for immediate restitution. Since God beholds the wrong, should there not be some speedy token that he does so? The truth which faith has to grasp is that God is carrying out a plan, for which all these things are a preparation. We may not be able to trace it; but it is so. Thus it was with Joseph. All through these sad years God was guiding him. It was not merely that in time the cloud was removed; every step of the way had its purpose (John 16:20
). In the prison he was learning lessons of the soul, - unlearning the spirit of censoriousness
and of self-complacency (Genesis 37:2
), - and, by obeying, learning how to rule. And the course of events bore him on to what was prepared for him. Had he remained at home, or returned thither, or had Potiphar not cast him into prison, he would not have been the head of a great work in Egypt, the helper of his family, the instrument of fulfilling God's promise. Not one step of his course was in vain; his sufferings were blessings.
I. IN SUFFERING WRONG WE ARE FOLLOWING CHRIST. He suffered for us, "leaving us an example" (1 Peter 2:21) of willingness to suffer for the good of others. This is the principle of self-sacrifice; not a self-willed sacrifice (Colossians 2:23), but the submission of the will to God (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 10:7). "This is acceptable with God" - to accept as from him what he sends, though we may-not see its use (Hebrews 12:5-7).
II. FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN THE DISCIPLINE OF SUFFERING IS NEEDFUL. If it was so in our Lord's sinless human nature (Hebrews 2:10), how much more in us, who must be taught to subdue the flesh to the spirit I Without trial Christian courage and fruit-bearing graces would fail (John 15:2), as without the winter's cold the forest tree would not form sound wood. And trial calls them into exercise (Romans 5:3), and through a sense of our weakness draws us nearer to God (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).
III. NOT ONLY TRIAL IN GENERAL, BUT EVERY PART OF IT WORKS GOOD. To every part the promise applies (John 16:20). So it was with Joseph. God lays no stroke without cause (Hebrews 12:10). The conviction of this works practical patience. This particular suffering has its own loving message.
IV. WE OFTEN CANNOT FORESEE THE PURPOSE OF TRIALS. How different was the end to which God was leading Joseph from anything he could have expected or hoped for! Yet far better. We can see but a very little way along the path by which God is leading us. We walk by faith that his guidance is unerring, and that which he has provided is best (Ephesians 3:20). - M.
Let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn. I.
HIS PRESENCE OF MIND. Equal to the situation.
II. THE KINDNESS AND OPENNESS OF HIS NATURE.
III. HIS SELF-COMMAND.
IV. HIS PRACTICAL GOOD SENSE.
His wisdom and prudential sagacity in counsel. The interpretation of Pharaoh's dreams was from God. Joseph knew it to be so. He had, therefore, the most assured and unshaken confidence of the correspondence of the coming facts with the Divine pre-intimation; and in this confidence he tenders his advice to the king, in the prospect of what was before him, without hesitation. The word of the God of truth is always sure. The counsel of Joseph was obviously wise and excellent. Like many similar counsels, it commends itself, when suggested, to instant approbation, while yet to many minds it might not at once occur. How very difficult it is, both in public and in private life, to get men to judge and to act with single-eyed simplicity, according to the real merits of measures, when these measures happen not to be their own! If they chance to originate with political opponents — or, in more private life, with those who are not in the number of their friends — how difficult it is to get them treated with fairness! Another important practical lesson is suggested by the counsel of Joseph: the general lesson of providence for the future. This is a duty incumbent on all. It is virtuous prudence; the "prudence which forseeth the evil and hideth itself." The remark has a special bearing on the labouring classes of the community. This laying up for the time of scarcity bore a close resemblance to the principle of friendly societies and provident or savings banks. There is such perpetual alteration and exchange of conditions, that no man can say with certainty to-day what his own circumstances, or those of any other person, may be to-morrow.
1. There may, surely, be providence, without over-anxiety.
2. But surely there may be providence, without covetousness.
3. The duty of providence, then, must not be an excuse for refusing the claims of benevolence.There may be scriptural providence, without cold-hearted and close-handed selfishness.
()1. Seek from above wisdom and prudence for the discreet guidance of all your own affairs, and of those of others still more especially, when they are entrusted to your management. "The Lord giveth wisdom."
2. Be thankful for the blessings of plenty and of freedom, in the measure in which providence has, in this favoured land, seen meet to bestow them.
3. The marvellous and lamentable difference between the manner in which mankind in general are affected by what relates to the life of the body and what relates to the life of the soul — to temporal and to eternal interests. Oh, how much in earnest about "the life that now is" — and about the means of its sustenance and prolongation, though it can last at the longest but for a few years, and, even in the midst of the abundance of all that is fitted to support it, may not last a few days.
(,)Mr. Scarlett Campbell has contributed some information concerning the mastery of famine conditions in Bohemia in the years 1770-71, which may illustrate the plan which Joseph recommended to the King of Egypt. In those years the Bohemian harvests totally failed, and over a million human beings died of hunger. In order to prevent such a catastrophe in the future, a law was made, obliging every commune to keep a large store of corn, each landowner being obliged to contribute a certain quantity; in times of scarcity he could borrow corn from the public granary, but had to pay it back after the ensuing harvest. This system was kept in force till within a few years ago, but, owing to the introduction of roads and railways, it is no longer necessary.
PeopleAsenath, Egyptians, Joseph, Manasseh, Pharaoh, Potipherah, Zaphnathpaaneah
PlacesEgypt, Nile River, On
TopicsAbundance, Action, Appoint, Charge, Commissioners, During, Egypt, Egypt's, Exact, Fifth, Harvest, Officers, Overseers, Pharaoh, Plenteous, Plenty, Proceed, Produce, Receive, Seven, Store
Outline1. Pharaoh has two dreams.
9. Joseph interprets them.
33. He gives Pharaoh counsel, and is highly advanced, and married.
46. The seven years of plenty.
50. He begets children.
53. The famine begins.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 41:34
1657 numbers, fractions
8131 guidance, results
8365 wisdom, human
LibraryThe Covenant of Works
Q-12: I proceed to the next question, WHAT SPECIAL ACT OF PROVIDENCE DID GOD EXERCISE TOWARDS MAN IN THE ESTATE WHEREIN HE WAS CREATED? A: When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him upon condition of perfect obedience, forbidding him to eat of the tree of knowledge upon pain of death. For this, consult with Gen 2:16, 17: And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
The Earliest Chapters in Divine Revelation
[Sidenote: The nature of inspiration] Since the days of the Greek philosophers the subject of inspiration and revelation has been fertile theme for discussion and dispute among scholars and theologians. Many different theories have been advanced, and ultimately abandoned as untenable. In its simplest meaning and use, inspiration describes the personal influence of one individual upon the mind and spirit of another. Thus we often say, "That man inspired me." What we are or do under the influence …
Charles Foster Kent—The Origin & Permanent Value of the Old Testament
Man's Chief End
Q-I: WHAT IS THE CHIEF END OF MAN? A: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. Here are two ends of life specified. 1: The glorifying of God. 2: The enjoying of God. I. The glorifying of God, I Pet 4:4: That God in all things may be glorified.' The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. I Cor 10:01. Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.' Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
The First Chaldaean Empire and the Hyksos in Egypt
Syria: the part played by it in the ancient world--Babylon and the first Chaldaean empire--The dominion of the Hyksos: Ahmosis. Some countries seem destined from their origin to become the battle-fields of the contending nations which environ them. Into such regions, and to their cost, neighbouring peoples come from century to century to settle their quarrels and bring to an issue the questions of supremacy which disturb their little corner of the world. The nations around are eager for the possession …
G. Maspero—History Of Egypt, Chaldaea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, V 4
Second Great Group of Parables.
(Probably in Peræa.) Subdivision F. Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. ^C Luke XVI. 19-31. [The parable we are about to study is a direct advance upon the thoughts in the previous section. We may say generally that if the parable of the unjust steward teaches how riches are to be used, this parable sets forth the terrible consequences of a failure to so use them. Each point of the previous discourse is covered in detail, as will be shown by the references in the discussion of the parable.] …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
The Roman Pilgrimage: the Miracles which were Wrought in It.
[Sidenote: 1139] 33. (20). It seemed to him, however, that one could not go on doing these things with sufficient security without the authority of the Apostolic See; and for that reason he determined to set out for Rome, and most of all because the metropolitan see still lacked, and from the beginning had lacked, the use of the pall, which is the fullness of honour. And it seemed good in his eyes that the church for which he had laboured so much should acquire, by his zeal and labour, …
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh
Appendix 2 Extracts from the Babylon Talmud
Massecheth Berachoth, or Tractate on Benedictions  Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah  until the end of the first night watch.  These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer. But the sages say: Till midnight. Rabban Gamaliel says: Until the column of the morning (the dawn) rises. It happened, that his sons came back from a banquet. They said to him: "We have not said the Shema.'" He said to them, "If the column …
Alfred Edersheim—Sketches of Jewish Social Life
The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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