This week’s parsha begins with a very touching story. Everybody from Canaan has come up to Egypt, and Joseph rides out to meet them in his chariot. When he sees his father, he flings himself on his neck and just can’t stop crying.
Joseph brings a few of his brothers and his father, Israel/Jacob, before Pharoah. Pharoah asks Jacob: How old are you? Oy, says Jacob. I’m a hundred and thirty, but I haven’t lived as long as my fathers did. “Few and ill-fated have been the days and years of my life.”
Pharoah assigns Joseph’s brothers some choice land in Goshen and Joseph makes sure they have bread to eat.
But the rest of Egypt has no bread! They have already given all their silver to the Pharoah. Joseph says “Let me have your livestock and I will give you feed for them, since the silver is gone.” So everyone brings their horses, their oxen, their sheep and their donkeys in exchange for bread for a year.
But after the year, the seven-year famine that Joseph had predicted still isn’t over. The people come to him and beg him to take their land in exchange for bread and seed for sowing.
So Joseph acquires all the land of Egypt for Pharoah. From that time on, the people must give one fifth of their crops to Pharoah, keeping the other four fifths for food and for seed.
“You have saved our lives!” cry the people.
Food for Thought
What kind of a bargain does Joseph make with the people of Egypt?