After Israel and his family had settled, and Joseph provided everything they needed from his own house, he went back to the business of rationing his stores of grain for the rest of the people in the land.
The famine devastated Egypt and Canaan entirely until no food could be found anywhere. Joseph began to collect all the money down to the last hoarded shekel, and he brought it in cargo loads into Pharaoh’s house. In exchange, he provided the people the grain they so desperately needed to survive.
The priests were not included in this bargain, as they subsisted on a food allowance from Pharaoh and would never want for anything for as long as the dynasty had the means to provide.
When the rest of Egypt ran out of grain and had no money to pay for it, they came crawling back to Joseph. “Please, for the love of Pharaoh,” they pleaded, “give us something to eat. What good is a mummified kingdom? You must save us!”
“Your livestock for grain,” Joseph decreed.
The people, having no other alternative, brought their beasts of burden, their flocks, and herds, and they exchanged them all for a year’s supply of food.
The next year, the Egyptian people came back to beg once more. “We have no money, and we have no cattle. What’s left of your servants except for our bodies and our lands? What good is a dynasty of corpses? Take our farms and fields from us, and let us become your slaves to work the land.”
Joseph answered, “Let it be as you say,” and he purchased every acre in Egypt for Pharaoh. From east to west, every landowner became slaves on the very ground they used to possess.
Joseph parceled seed in every area for the slaves of Egypt to sow. “At harvest,” the viceroy commanded, “you’ll bring me one-fifth of your yield. Four-fifths will be yours for food and for seed.”
The people were all too glad to abide by their master’s commands, for they owed their lives to him. The worst of the famine had passed, and the skies began to show signs of reprieve.
All the while, Pharaoh’s priests never misses a meal, and Joseph’s father, chosen by God to lay the foundation of a great promise, had plenty of food to provide for his people in the fertile land of Goshen.
Inspiration: Genesis 47