TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:50-57 (NLT*)
During this time, before the first of the famine years, two sons were born to Joseph and his wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. Joseph named his older son Manasseh, for he said, “God has made me forget all my troubles and everyone in my father’s family.” Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”
At last the seven years of bumper crops throughout the land of Egypt came to an end. Then the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had predicted. The famine also struck all the surrounding countries, but throughout Egypt there was plenty of food. Eventually, however, the famine spread throughout the land of Egypt as well. And when the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, he told them, “Go to Joseph, and do whatever he tells you.” So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. And people from all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph because the famine was severe throughout the world.
AN IMAGINARY JOURNAL ARTICLE
I have been very lucky in the husband Pharaoh chose for me. Zaphenath-paneah is a good man, and we have been blessed with two healthy boys in the seven years we have been together. I was initially confused when the boys were born, and he wanted to give them such strange names. So often I could almost forget that he wasn’t born Egyptian. His accent is so slight now, and he makes such a handsome administrator. Why would he want to remind everyone that he was born a foreigner? But he was so insistent, I did not want to force the point. So we named the boys Manasseh and Ephraim. What beautiful boys! They will grow up to be just like their father, and serve the Pharaoh. My husband has been faithful in carrying out his duties, and the Pharaoh often shows his appreciation to our family. And now that the famine has begun, just as my husband predicted, the Pharaoh is leaning on him more and more for advice and guidance. My husband will save our land, and he will keep our family safe and strong. I am a lucky wife.
THINGS TO THINK ABOUT…
- The name Manasseh stems from the Hebrew word nāshâ, which means to forget. Joseph has accepted a new name and a new life in Egypt. What point could he be making by naming his son Manasseh?
- If Joseph has “forgotten his father’s house,” (41:50) why does he not choose traditional Egyptian names for his sons? Why does he choose names that have Hebrew roots?
- The name Ephraim stems from the Hebrew word pārâ, which means to be fruitful. This seems to be a more positive name for his second son. Why do you think this is?
- If you were experiencing seven years of abundance, how willing would you be to think about a future possibility of famine?
- What parallels are there in this abundance/famine pattern in your life?
“When the years of famine come, it affects every country, not just Egypt. But only Egypt has grain. The success of Joseph redounds to his reputation. When Egyptians cry out for bread due to the famine’s severity, they can get relief from Joseph (note that they buy grain; it is not given away). In fact, Joseph’s wisdom enables Egypt to become the bread basket for ‘all the world’ (verses 54-57).” The New Interpreter’s Bible, vol. I (Abingdon Press: Nashville, 1994, 622.
* Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation.