46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.Okay, so Joseph is putting a stiff tax on all the farmers. The author doesn't tell us exactly how much, but it's "all the food produced." That can't be taken literally obviously but it's apparently all of the surplus. And he isn't borrowing it, he's confiscating it. He doesn't even bother to keep records of who he took it from. And evidently the farmers aren't allowed to store up any surplus for themselves. They have to give everything to Joseph.
50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”Okay, you see what's happening, right? Joseph confiscated the grain from all of the farmers, and now he is selling it to the hungry people. God is starving the whole world, so that Joseph can sell the grain he took from the farmers and put the money in his own pocket. If you aren't yet entirely sure that this is what's happening, wait for chapter 47. There will be some rigamarole in between, but it will be missing the real point.
53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”
56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.
- Genesis 41:51 Manasseh sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for forget.
- Genesis 41:52 Ephraim sounds like the Hebrew for twice fruitful.