Joseph’s Coat of Much Corruption

The State demonstrated beyond any doubt its absolute destructiveness and anti-human agenda during this interminable year of COVIDCon; anyone who still believes that government is beneficial and that its “experts” have our best interests at heart is either an imbecile or profiting from Leviathan. 

Tragically, Christ’s Church augmented that despotism rather than restraining or eliminating it. And as he blithely sold us down the river, Parson Goat chirped, “Romans 13! Romans 13!”

Now, as I explained in Conversation with a Biblical Anarchist: Anarcho-Capitalism and the Bible (write me for your free copy if you haven’t already; my pamphlet explores Scripture’s vehement if subtle stance against the wickedness of the Satanic State), the Lord’s detestation of the cruelty, oppression, and corruption that characterize political government permeates Scripture. Permeates it so tellingly, in fact, that only his willful idolatry prevents Parson Goat from grasping it. 

But still…there is no Eleventh Commandment, “Thou shalt not rule thy fellowman.” And a couple of passages, such as those extolling David as king, actually seem to support the idea that God approves of potentates and coercion.

One of LRC’s readers, TimmyTaes, has been reading the Bible (a practice I strongly recommend! Study it, memorize it, and meditate on it daily rather than taking someone else’s word for what’s in it. Immersion in God’s Word is especially vital during these perilous and unprecedented times). He recently complained about a passage that has long troubled me, too: the account in Genesis of Joseph’s antics in Egypt.

As you may recall, Joseph, the favorite of a dozen sons born to the wealthy Jacob, incurs his brothers’ jealousy. They then sell him to some passing Midianites. He winds up a slave in Egypt but, thanks to the Lord’s blessing, eventually becomes Pharaoh’s second-in-command as a famine commences. Joseph oversees the distribution of food to the starving Egyptians by striking various “bargains” with them that seem to immensely benefit Pharaoh, buying all their land and eventually even the people themselves.

TimmyTaes was as indignant as I at this exploitation—and at the fact that it seems to have God’s sanction. What’s going on, he asked and quoted Matthew Henry’s infuriating commentary, “We cannot judge this matter by modern rules.” Oh, yes, we can: greed and immorality are still greed and immorality, whatever the era. But I had no better reply than that perhaps the Almighty was using Joseph to punish the sinful Egyptians as He would later use the Philistines, Babylonia and Assyria to chastise faithless Israel. 

Our providential Lord prompted another of LRC’s readers to email me that same day about an unrelated topic. But in so doing, Rick in Oregon mentioned the godly midwives in Egypt who refused to kill Hebrew babies at birth. I responded, 

Rick, speaking of Egyptian midwives… Go back a few hundred yrs to Joseph. What are your thoughts on his exploiting the hungry Egyptians and turning them all into slaves to Pharaoh when the famine becomes severe? Why does God seem to bless him for this or at least doesn’t condemn him? …[ Because Joseph] doesn’t stop w/ a 20% tax on grain. When Joseph last “bargains” w/ starving people, he tells them he’ll give them food in return for their “selling” their lands to the govt and indenturing themselves and their children. 

How is this just? It’s exploitation and govt at its worst. 

And to my immense satisfaction, Rick resolved this dilemma:

It was the Egyptians who proposed the deal not God, nor Joseph. The first year, the money had failed (people spent it all on grain), and the livestock were all going to die for lack of food and Joseph offers to buy the livestock for grain. They had no money and so instead of money he took livestock.

In the fifth year the people came to Joseph of their own accord and said:

19 In order, then, that we die not before thee, and the land be made desolate, buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants to Pharaoh: give seed that we may sow, and live and not die, so our land shall not be made desolate.

Was this extortion? Not at all. The deal was proposed by the people. They offered to sell themselves, not through deceit or coercion but because it was the only option they could think of that wouldn’t result in starvation and death. God didn’t tell Joseph to demand it, and Joseph didn’t come up with it on his own. They didn’t demand that the government owed them, they demanded that they direct their own affairs. It’s amazingly libertarian. 

And the “tax” came afterward which is an amazingly good deal considering the alternative. 

 23 And Joseph said to all the Egyptians, Behold, I have bought you and your land this day for Pharaoh; take seed for you, and sow the land. 24 And there shall be the fruits of it; and ye shall give the fifth part to Pharaoh, and the four remaining parts shall be for yourselves, for seed for the earth, and for food for you, and all that are in your houses.

So, in spite of the fact that they had willingly sold themselves into slavery and sold their land to Pharoah, they were to sow the land and keep 80%. 

And they were happy with this deal that they proposed because what Joseph proposed was a better deal than what they had proposed in the first place.

And they said, Thou hast saved us; we have found favour before our lord, and we will be servants to Pharaoh. 26 And Joseph appointed it to them for an ordinance until this day; to reserve a fifth part for Pharaoh, on the land of Egypt, except only the land of the priests, that was not Pharaoh’s.

So I don’t agree that there was anything evil going on here. Joseph’s deal was better. Under their own proposal, they would sell their land and themselves for a year’s worth of bread and some seed with no options afterward. They were happy with the deal. And under libertarian and Austrian economic theory, as long as an exchange is voluntary and transparent, it’s a legitimate transaction. Interestingly enough, Pharaoh had nothing to do with it. It was a transaction made without his input.

Rick added, 

If farmers in the US were offered to sell their land to the government in exchange for free seed and a 20% tax, it would be a far better deal than they have now. What with the 10% a year inflation tax, a tax on income, a tax on the property and sales taxes on goods, the Egyptians had a deal that is orders of magnitude better than what farmers have today in the US.

The Egyptian’s first proposal to Joseph was that they receive nothing but the seed. He threw in their ability to keep 80% of the grain. Their proposal would have given them only what was required so they could eat and the rest would go to Pharaoh. They would have received no disposable income.

Now, if only we can persuade Parson Goat to prefer Rick’s exegesis to Matthew Henry’s!


10:54 am on June 9, 2021