Joseph’s story

🏷  Bible text Semitic pun · text   —   by Gerry · Dec 2018 · 935 words

The granary scheme in the Biblical story of Joseph illustrates how the elites can profit from crises and use them to drain all wealth from common people.

This was my initial discovery, the one that set me on the path to becoming a researcher of ancient punnery & spookery.

Joseph’s granaries

Joseph’s story is overall a very touching tale about dreams, escaping from captivity, and a family reconciliation theme. Most plotlines are derived from words that somehow pun with Joseph.

There may be many hidden meanings, but one contradiction sticks out very obviously: Joseph sets up granaries in Egypt to guard against famine. These granaries are then superficially presented as saving the common people. But the description rather details how he simply taxes grain away, and later resells it to the same people he taxed it from, taking away as payment all their money, livestock, lands, ultimately even buying the people themselves as debt-slaves in return for their own grain.

So he gathered all the food of these seven years which occurred in the land of Egypt and placed the food in the cities; he placed in every city the food from its own surrounding fields.

Genesis 41:48

Now there was no food in all the land, because the famine was very severe, so that the land of Egypt and the land of Canaan languished because of the famine.

Genesis 47:13

Joseph gathered all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan for the grain which they bought, and Joseph brought the money into Pharaoh’s house.

Genesis 47:14

When the money was all spent in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came to Joseph and said, “Give us food, for why should we die in your presence? For our money is gone.”

Genesis 47:15

Then Joseph said, “Give up your livestock, and I will give you food for your livestock, since your money is gone.”

Genesis 47:16

When that year was ended, they came to him the next year and said to him, “We will not hide from my lord that our money is all spent, and the cattle are my lord’s. There is nothing left for my lord except our bodies and our lands.

Genesis 47:18

“Why should we die before your eyes, both we and our land? Buy us and our land for food, and we and our land will be slaves to Pharaoh. So give us seed, that we may live and not die, and that the land may not be desolate.”

Genesis 47:19

So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh, for every Egyptian sold his field, because the famine was severe upon them. Thus the land became Pharaoh’s.

Genesis 47:20

Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have today bought you and your land for Pharaoh; now, here is seed for you, and you may sow the land.

Genesis 47:23

So they said, “You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.”

Genesis 47:25

The Hebrew word used here is עבדים abadim, translated in varous Bible versions as “slaves”, “servants”, “bondage”. The message is clearly one of debt-slavery though: At the end of the famine, the central government owns almost all lands, and the common people have become serfs who owe a fifth of the yield they harvest to the government.

Implications

I personally view this as just a story, i.e. the first granaries probably weren’t really invented by a foreigner named Joseph when Egypt was already a major established empire. Granaries, famines, tithing, land-grabs, debt-slavery may however have worked in this or a similar fashion.

The big question now is this: Why was this included in the Bible? To commoners, losing everything they had just to buy back grain that was tithed away from them must seem mightily unfair. To elites such as governors and creditors however, this part of Joseph’s story may appear as a useful recipe on how to profit from crises. My conclusions is therefore that it was these elites who either created or edited our Bible so that the granary scheme was included.

More hints to finance

This seems to be the only example where the self-enrichment of the elites via financial means is officially promoted in the Bible. In virtually all other instances, usury and debt-slavery are portrayed as negative, though sometimes as divine punishment.

But on closer inspection, there seem to be a lot of hidden financial puns. These hint at the fact that it was hidden financial elites who either created or hijacked & edited many Biblical storylines.

Particularly in Joseph’s story, the land-grab & debt-enslavement theme seems to be no coincidence. Best evidence for that is the fact that Joseph’s name also means “debt” or “credit”.

More evidence are the names of his sons Manasseh & Ephraim, which also mean “credit”.

Even the geographic setting may be a parable: Note that only Egypt & Canaan are affected, but no thoer countries are mentioned. Why? It could be a pun: The Hebrew word for Egypt is Mitsraim, which also means “slaves”. And Canaan means, among other things, “subjects”. So to the spooks, story of Joseph visiting Egypt & Canaan may not be a story about famine in some country, but a parable on how “debt” can help overlords to loot their own “slaves” & “subjects”.

We may therefore conclude that finance was extremely important in Biblical times already, and that the Bible was compiled & edited by elites who profited from it, but at the same time didn’t want to admit that.

🏷  Bible text Semitic pun · text