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Genesis 47:18-26


47:18 When that year was over, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We cannot hide from our 1  lord that the money is used up and the livestock and the animals belong to our lord. Nothing remains before our lord except our bodies and our land. 47:19 Why should we die before your very eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we, with our land, will become 2  Pharaoh’s slaves. 3  Give us seed that we may live 4  and not die. Then the land will not become desolate.” 5 

47:20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh. Each 6  of the Egyptians sold his field, for the famine was severe. 7  So the land became Pharaoh’s. 47:21 Joseph 8  made all the people slaves 9  from one end of Egypt’s border to the other end of it. 47:22 But he did not purchase the land of the priests because the priests had an allotment from Pharaoh and they ate from their allotment that Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

47:23 Joseph said to the people, “Since I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you. Cultivate 10  the land. 47:24 When you gather in the crop, 11  give 12  one-fifth of it to Pharaoh, and the rest 13  will be yours for seed for the fields and for you to eat, including those in your households and your little children.” 47:25 They replied, “You have saved our lives! You are showing us favor, 14  and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.” 15 

47:26 So Joseph made it a statute, 16  which is in effect 17  to this day throughout the land of Egypt: One-fifth belongs to Pharaoh. Only the land of the priests did not become Pharaoh’s.

1 tn Heb “my.” The expression “my lord” occurs twice more in this verse.

2 tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates consequence.

3 sn Pharaoh’s slaves. The idea of slavery is not attractive to the modern mind, but in the ancient world it was the primary way of dealing with the poor and destitute. If the people became slaves of Pharaoh, it was Pharaoh’s responsibility to feed them and care for them. It was the best way for them to survive the famine.

4 tn After the imperative, the prefixed verbal form with vav here indicates purpose or result.

5 tn The disjunctive clause structure (vav [ו] + subject + negated verb) highlights the statement and brings their argument to a conclusion.

6 tn The Hebrew text connects this clause with the preceding one with a causal particle (כִּי, ki). The translation divides the clauses into two sentences for stylistic reasons.

7 tn The Hebrew text adds “upon them.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.

8 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

9 tc The MT reads “and the people he removed to the cities,” which does not make a lot of sense in this context. The Samaritan Pentateuch and the LXX read “he enslaved them as slaves.”

10 tn The perfect verbal form with the vav consecutive is equivalent to a command here.

11 tn The words “the crop” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

12 tn The perfect form with the vav (ו) consecutive is equivalent to an imperfect of instruction here.

13 tn Heb “four parts.”

14 tn Heb “we find favor in the eyes of my lord.” Some interpret this as a request, “may we find favor in the eyes of my lord.”

15 sn Slaves. See the note on this word in v. 21.

16 tn On the term translated “statute” see P. Victor, “A Note on Hoq in the Old Testament,” VT 16 (1966): 358-61.

17 tn The words “which is in effect” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.

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