Genesis 41:54
the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. And although there was famine in every country, there was food throughout the land of Egypt.
Destitution and AbundanceF. Hastings Genesis 41:54
Christ the Only Source of SupplyGeorge Lawson, D. D.Genesis 41:53-57
Christ's StorehouseGenesis 41:53-57
Egypt's Indebtedness to JosephM. Doris, D. D.Genesis 41:53-57
Joseph Opening the Store. HousesSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 41:53-57
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 41:53-57
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 41:53-57
Riches in ChristSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 41:53-57
Spiritual Blessings by ChristRalph Robinson.Genesis 41:53-57
The Seven Years of FamineT. H. Leale.Genesis 41:53-57
The Tried ManR.A. Redford Genesis 41

And the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. The time of harvest is, of all periods of the year, the most important. It is the point to which all previous operations of the cultivator have tended. He knows how much depends on the weather and God's mercy. Having done all he can, he has to wait, and the harvest-time determines results. Those who are not engaged in agriculture are concerned in a harvest. Suppose there were none; non-producers must starve, Dwelling in great towns and cities, many who are engaged in traffic or manufacture may easily overlook harvest-time, and forget their dependence on God for daily bread. They see not the sown fields, they watch not the springing blade, they seize not the sharp sickle, they join not in piling up the pointed stacks, and are therefore likely to forget dependence on God. It is well that God forgets us not. He has ever kept his promise - "So long as the earth remaineth," &c. No year has passed without harvest-time being stinted in some land. Think over the contrast given in the text.

I. GENERAL DISTRESS. "The dearth was in all lands," i.e. all the lands then known to be peopled by the descendants of Noah. Their harvests had failed. Rain excessive, or drought prolonged, had ruined their crops. For several years there seems to have been disappointment. Not only did the husbandmen suffer, but those who could not toil. Dearth engenders disease, despair, death. See 2 Kings 6:24-40, to what straits famine will reduce people. Even mothers consent together to eat their own offspring. In the lamentations of Jeremiah there is a description of the fearful consequences of famine, leading men to say, "Then was our skin black like an ov

II. EXCEPTIONAL ABUNDANCE. But for this plentifulness in Egypt the whole race might have perished. There were several reasons for the abundance in Egypt.

1. God arranged it by that wondrous overflowing of the Nile. A difference in the rising a few feet makes all the difference as to the crops. Even at this date, so do the crops of Egypt affect the markets of the world, that the rising of the Nile is watched, and the height attained telegraphed to all parts. God, at the period referred to, had given seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of dearth; but such had been the previous abundance, owing to the overflow of the river, that in the terrible time of dearth there was abundance of bread in Egypt.

2. The foresight and energy of one man had led to the husbanding of resources and storing of excessive crops.

3. Divine revelation caused Joseph to act. He could not have known of the impending danger unless it had been revealed. He had faith in God when in prison, and main-rained it when he became the governor of Egypt. Indeed that faith shone as brightly when he was the approved of Pharaoh as when he was the slave of Potiphar and the object of passion's hate. His faith was rewarded when he was able to save multitudes from starving. What a contrast is presented in the text! Dearth of many lands, abundance in one. Such contrasts are often seen. On one side of the ocean there may have been an abundant harvest, on the other side but scanty crops. The world is full of contrasts. Here is a wedding; there is a funeral. In one family is love, thoughtfulness, harmony, and in that - perhaps separated only by the thin partition of hasty builders - bickering, jealousy, and hastiness of temper. Here sobriety, providence, and religion reign; there nothing but indigence, drunkenness, and utter neglect of the claims of God. In one country is peace, activity in all its branches of industry, commercial confidence, progress-in education and art, thoughtfulness for the untaught and criminal classes, and higher appreciation of the sacredness of life; in another depression, mistrust, plotting of adventurers, rule of the conscienceless, national faithlessness, and the spreading pall of desolation. Forceful is the contrast presented by nations under the influence of a simple Christianity and those enslaved by superstition, as Spain or Austria; or paralyzed by fatalism, as Turkey and Asia Minor; or darkened by idolatry, as India, China, Africa, and some of the islands of the seas. And such contrasts are seen in individuals. There walks one whose soul has no light, no hope, no peace; here one who knows he is pardoned, and is sure of acceptance by Christ. At death what a contrast! See one dying shrinking, doubting, fearing, grasping at any straw of comfort; another rejoicing that he is soon to enter and tread the streets of the New Jerusalem. Let all be prepared for such a change. Seek Christ, who is the "Bread of life," the Savior of our souls. Lack of appetite and numbness may come from excessive exhaustion. Hunger and thirst after righteousness, and be not like a lady who once said, "Sir, I have been so long without religion that I have, I fear, now no desire for it." If we come to Christ he will receive us readily. Joseph was glad to receive and help his brethren. So will Christ supply all our need out of the treasures of his rich grace. Remember, that if the need of other nations tested the charity of Egypt, so the need of souls is to test our earnestness. If we have found the riches in Christ, we are to seek to bless others. If little time remains to some of us in which to do much for Christ, let us act as those who, having much to write and little space, crowd the letters and words the closer. Let us be earnest as the husbandman, who, seeing winter coming apace, hastens in the few fine days remaining to garner his crops. Alas, many of our doings will have to stand useless, like earless, rotten sheaves, blackening dreary fields. - H.

Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians.

1. It showed great prudence and skill.

2. It showed a spirit of dependence upon God.

3. It was the exhibition of a character worthy of the highest confidence.

II. Lessons:

1. How quickly adversity awaits upon prosperity.

2. What an advantage to have a true and powerful friend in the day of calamity.

3. God often brings about His purposes of love and mercy by affliction.

(T. H. Leale.)


1. The king was only to be approached through Joseph (ver. 55). So with Jesus (John 14:6).

2. The king commanded that Joseph should be obeyed (ver. 55; see John 5:23).

3. In all the land no other could open a storehouse save Joseph (see John 3:35).


1. He planned the storehouses, and was justly appointed to control them (vers. 33-36, 38).

2. He carried out the storage, and so proved himself practical as well as inventive (ver. 49).

3. He did it on a noble scale (ver. 49).

4. He had wisdom to distribute well (see Colossians 1:9; John 1:16).


1. For this purpose he filled them. Grace is meant to be used.

2. To have kept them closed would have been no gain to him.

3. He opened them at a fit time (vers. 55, 56).

4. He kept them open while the famine lasted.

IV. JOSEPH OPENED THE STOREHOUSE TO ALL COMERS. Yet Joseph did but sell, while Jesus gives without money.

V. JOSEPH ACQUIRED POSSESSION OF ALL EGYPT FOR THE KING. Full submission and consecration are the grand result of infinite love.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. Providence puts an end to plenty at His will, however sensual men think not of it.

2. The fruitfulest land becometh barren if God speak the word; even Egypt.

3. Periods of full conditions are observable by men; God's Spirit notes them (ver. 54).

4. In the design of Providence, wants succeed plenty at the heels.

5. Entrance of dearth, though grievous, yet may make but small impression on souls.

6. Not a word of God falleth to the ground, but as He saith, so it is.

7. Providence orders lands for scarcity as well as plenty.

8. God can give bread to Egypt when He denieth it to other nations for His own ends (ver. 54).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

1. Providence orders some countries to depend on others for their sustenance.

2. Wants make nations stoop and seek about for the support of life.

3. Grace can make poor captives become preservers of nations.

4. Sore plagues may be made to make men inquire after and prize abused mercies.

5. General judgments are sent to manifest God's special ends of grace to His (ver. 57).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

Egypt's indebtedness to Joseph was, in fact, twofold. In the first place he succeeded in doing what many strong governments have failed to do: he enabled a large population to survive a long and severe famine. Even with all modern facilities for transport and for making the abundance of remote countries available for times of scarcity, it has not always been found possible to save our own fellow-subjects from starvation. In a prolonged famine which occurred in Egypt during the middle ages, the inhabitants, reduced to the unnatural habits which are the most painful feature of such times, not only ate their own dead, but kidnapped the living on the streets of Cairo and consumed them in secret. One of the most touching memorials of the famine with which Joseph had to deal is found in a sepulchral inscription in Arabia. A flood of rain laid bare a tomb in which lay a woman having on her person a profusion of jewels which represented a very large value. At her head stood a coffer filled with treasure, and a tablet with this inscription: "In Thy name, O God, the God of Himyar, I, Tayar, the daughter of Dzu Shefar, sent my steward to Joseph, and he delaying to return to me, I sent my handmaid with a measure of silver to bring me back a measure of flour; and not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of gold; and not being able to procure it, I sent her with a measure of pearls; and not being able to procure it, I commanded them to be ground; and finding no profit in them, I am shut up here." If this inscription is genuine — and there seems no reason to call it in question — it shows that there is no exaggeration in the statement of our narrator that the famine was very grievous in other lands as well as Egypt. And, whether genuine or not, one cannot but admire the grim humour of the starving woman getting herself buried in the jewels which had suddenly dropped to less than the value of a loaf of bread. But besides being indebted to Joseph for their preservation, the Egyptians owed to him an extension of their influence; for, as all the lands round about became dependent on Egypt for provision, they must have contracted a respect for the Egyptian administration. They must also have added greatly to Egypt's wealth, and during those years of constant traffic many commercial connections must have been formed which in future years would be of untold value to Egypt. But, above all, the permanent alterations made by Joseph on their tenure of land, and on their places of abode, may have convinced the most sagacious of the Egyptians that it was well for them that their money had failed, and that they had been compelled to yield themselves unconditionally into the hands of this remarkable ruler. It is the mark of a competent statesman that he makes temporary distress the occasion for permanent benefit; and from the confidence Joseph won with the people, there seems every reason to believe that the permanent alterations he introduced were considered as beneficial as certainly they were bold. And for our own spiritual uses it is this point which seems chiefly important. In Joseph is illustrated the principle that, in order to the attainment of certain blessings, unconditional submission to God's delegate is required.

(M. Doris, D. D.)

William Bridge says: There is enough in Jesus Christ to serve us all. If two, or six, or twenty men be athirst, and they go to drink out of a bottle, while one is drinking, the other envies, because he thinks there will not be enough for him too; but if a hundred be athirst, and go to the river, while one is drinking, the other envies not, because there is enough to serve them all."

Dr. Conyers was for some years a preacher before he had felt the power of the gospel. As he was reading his Greek Testament he came to Ephesians 3:8: "Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ." "Riches of Christ!" said he to himself;" 'Unsearchable riches of Christ!' What have I preached of these? What do I know of these?" Under the blessing of the Spirit of God he was thus awakened to a new life and a new ministry. Are there not some yet living who might put to their own consciences similar questions?

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

All the spiritual blessings wherewith the Church is enriched are in and by Christ. The apostle instances some of the choicest (Ephesians 1:3). Our election is by Him (ver. 4). Our adoption is by Him (ver. 5). Our redemption and remission of sins are both through Him. All the gracious transactions between God and His people are through Christ. God loves us through Christ; He hears our prayers through Christ; He forgives us all our sins through Christ. Through Christ He justifies us; through Christ He sanctifies us; through Christ Pie upholds us; through Christ He perfects us. All His relations to us are through Christ; all we have is from Christ; all we expect to have hangs upon Him. He is the golden hinge upon which all our salvation turns.

(Ralph Robinson.)

If any of the people of Egypt had refused to go to Joseph, they would have despised not Joseph only, but the king, and would have deserved to be denied that sustenance which he only could give them. Are not the despisers of our great Redeemer in like manner despisers of His Father, who has set Him as His King upon the holy hill of Zion?... If Joseph had thrown open his storehouses before the Egyptians felt the pressure of hunger, they might soon have wasted the fruits of his prudent care... Hunger, though very unpleasant, is often more useful than fulness of bread. They were very willing to give the price demanded for their food as long as their money lasted. What is the reason why so many are unwilling to come and receive wine and milk without money and without price? They feel no appetite for it. They are not sensible of their need of it.

(George Lawson, D. D.).

Asenath, Egyptians, Joseph, Manasseh, Pharaoh, Potipherah, Zaphnathpaaneah
Egypt, Nile River, On
Begin, Bread, Dearth, Egypt, Famine, Joseph, Lands, Seven, Short
1. 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 Themes
Genesis 41:54

     8739   evil, examples of

Genesis 41:53-57

     4823   famine, physical

The 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.[507] And it seemed good in his eyes[508] that the church for which he had laboured so much[509] 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 [76] Mishnah--From what time is the "Shema" said in the evening? From the hour that the priests entered to eat of their therumah [77] until the end of the first night watch. [78] 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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