Thursday, April 14, 2011

Genesis 47:11-12 God's Provision for the Israelites

"So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed.  Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father's household with food, according to the number of their children."  (Genesis 47:11-12 NIV)

Goshen (Gen. 45:10, where the Israelites settled was also known as "the district of Rameses" (Gen.47:11) and "the region of Zoan" (Psalm 70:12,43).

The "district of Rameses" probably refers to the Egyptian Pharaoh Rameses II.  Of course this brings up the question of who was the Pharaoh during these times and the times of the Exodus.  I have read some arguments, and need to do more reading before I can take a stand myself, but the topic should come up again soon, for we are near the end of the book of Genesis and will probably start on the book of Exodus after that, Lord willing.  So we will wait a bit on that question.

In case you are wondering, if Rameses is not the current Pharaoh during the times of the Israelites in Egypt, the fact that the writer mentions Rameses here could be due to a later editorial updating inserted into the text.  [However, then you have to deal with the question of which information in the Bible is 'original' and which is 'editorial'!  I'm guessing that manuscript evidence could help settle that question.  Sounds like a topic for another post when I learn more.]

Anyway, the Israelites are settled into this region in the eastern part of the Nile Delta.  It was a fertile region (Genesis 45:18 ''the best of the land of Egypt'').  I also read that it still remains fertile to this day.  I thought about how God had prepared this area years before His people came to live there during their stay in Egypt, for of course it would have taken years of sediment deposits to enrich the area before it came into the fullness of fertility which greeted the Israelite refugees upon their arrival in the district of Rameses.

I noted that, in addition to property,  Joseph also provided food for his father and brothers and all Jacob's household.  I assume this includes any workers or servants they may have had.  It would take some time for the Israelite's own crops to mature, even in this fertile area.

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