The Yosef Story

    If you look at Yosef’s story it seems strange. I’m not talking about the whole slave to visier thing, but why interpreting a dream would bring him up to second-in-command. Pharoah had many dream interpreters and the chief one doesn’t seem to have been that high up. Furthermore the whole story afterwards makes no sense. The government took 20% of all produce for the 7 years and the famine lasted only two years. So if they had 1.5 times the produce in the good years compared to the normal years and only half the produce of a normal year during the famine they should have had sufficient reserves for around 4 years and even if they had no food at all during the famine years than even with normal consumption they had enough food for 2 years. However it seems that they were running out of food even during the first two years. Furthermore if they thought they didn’t have enough food for the 7 years why were they trying to sell food to outsiders?

Yosef’s interpretation was his ticket out of prison, but the genius of his plan was that the government controlled all of the food storage. Combine this shortage with free food to the priests to get their support and you have a way of taking complete control of the populace. In fact that is what happened where everybody had to sell themselves as slaves. In fact if the people believed Yosef, and given their nature it is reasonable to believe they did, there is no reason that they shouldn’t have saved wheat in the good years and there would have been sufficient food to avoid being selling themselves into slavery. From this I can only assume based on more contemporary examples such as the Soviet Union that the peasantry weren’t allowed to store their own grain. Also we have certain Midrashic statements which seem to support the fact that this was the general plan. For example everyone who took grain had to sign in. This may have helped Joseph find his brother, but it could also help the authorities find out who wasn’t buying grain and raid their hoards of grain. Furthermore they kept people from purchasing more grain than a donkey could carry leaving people very vulnerable to price increases.

So that’s the story of Yosef a slave who rose up by giving Pharoh a plan to take ultimate control of the country. In fact there may be a good reason why The other son’s of Yaakov wanted to live off by themselves. They would be the targets of the angry people once the current Pharoah was gone.

2 Responses to The Yosef Story

  1. Tobie says:

    Inspiring, isn’t it? Really communism at work. The only slight point I might add is that it is possible from the text that the government purchased the grain during the good years, when prices were ridiculously low. (It doesn’t say anything about a fifth at that point in the story- that’s later, when they all get turned into slaves/ serfs). In which case, they simply benefited from a bit of supernatural foresight which enabled them to buy very cheap and then sell as they pleases, given their monopoly. More like a loan shark than a government, but the line may well have been quite thin.

  2. mike529 says:

    33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint overseers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven years of plenty. 35 And let them gather all the food of these good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it.
    I think it sounds like it was stolen.

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