December 7, 2014

Saving Beyond Necessity: A Question



SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:34   (and Joseph instructed) Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.   (NIV)

 Related Scripture:   Genesis 41:35-36, 47-48

DISCUSSION: Joseph not only interpreted dreams, but also presumed to make practical suggestions for a course of action necessary in light of the interpretation. He presented his case successfully to the Pharaoh, who immediately began to sift through candidates for the position of “Secretary of Agriculture.” Finally, he said to Joseph: as much as God showed you all this, you shall be over my house. Pharaoh conferred on Joseph symbols of the high office to which he had been appointed. (5 pp. 103)

REFLECTION:  A question occurs to me: If there were to be seven years of abundance, then seven years of famine, would not one save one-seventh of each good year’s harvest? Yet Joseph instructed Pharaoh to take one-fifth of the harvest, a significant difference (14% versus 20%) beyond what would be needed to pull the Egyptians through the famine, assuming one-seventh would be sufficient for one year’s sustenance.

Why the extra? Possibly because of storage spoilage or critter invasion. In seven years of storage there would certainly be some rotting or animal damage.

Could it have been an economic decision? Pharaoh received word of the famine. There’s no evidence he spread his knowledge to neighboring countries. Or if he did, they ignored the information.

Joseph, quite intelligent, may have seen this as an opportunity to increase the coffers of the Pharaoh while providing a food source for other countries.

Irregardless, the outreach was what brought Joseph back together with his family. Was this God’s plan?

PRAYER: In these days of economic peril help your people see beyond all the buy-buy-buy ads and the pleas to spend more. I, and others, must plan for even leaner times to come. Help us have the wisdom to know what to store and what not to accumulate. Help us to store sufficient reserves not only for our family but for others in need. Amen.


  1. Carolyn, plus there would be a need for seeds, a year or two where the new crops were planted and harvested, and God thought of the neighbors who would have hit on hard times as well. The neighbors would have to pay for what they bought, but that was why Egypt was the great country that it was economically.

    Comment by Tom Beck — December 11, 2014 @ 6:12 am | Reply

  2. Interesting reading and Bible teaching

    Comment by Grace (&Fred) — December 11, 2014 @ 2:53 pm | Reply

  3. People should get back to having kitchen gardens on their property. You folks are welcome to visit us in Alabama and see our “redneck” garden we have in our front yard. Right now we have mixed greens and turnips growing there as a winter garden

    Comment by Grace (&Fred) — December 11, 2014 @ 2:58 pm | Reply

  4. My SS class just completed a study of Joseph. Interesting study and your question was touched on.
    My husband and I usually have a small backyard garden, health issues prevented it this year.

    Comment by merry101 — December 12, 2014 @ 6:10 pm | Reply

  5. Nice picture, Carolyn. 🙂

    Comment by merry101 — December 12, 2014 @ 6:11 pm | Reply

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