Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and tell Pharaoh, and say to him, ‘My brothers and those of my father’s house, who were in the land of Canaan, have come to me. And the men are shepherds, for their occupation has been to feed livestock; and they have brought their flocks, their herds, and all that they have.’ So it shall be, when Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ that you shall say, ‘Your servants’ occupation has been with livestock from our youth even till now, both we and also our fathers,’ that you may dwell in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians.”- Genesis 46:31-34 (NKJV)
Joseph did something with his family that many in Western culture may not be able to relate in recent generations. Too many of us may be so far removed from our families being immigrants that we have no real understanding of what it took to be outsiders in a new land. Upton Sinclair
conveyed the concept in his classic The Jungle
shared a similar story in The Grapes of Wrath
have long come into lands of opportunity
, willing to do the work that others regarded as below them.
Joseph Advised His Family: He shared with them and spoke them. He gave them advice from having some experience from being in the land during the recent “lean years” and before then. He had some understanding and insight into how the Egyptians viewed shepherds. Joseph shared what he knew and understood about the culture and circumstances that his family was embarking on living within at that time.
He offered keen advice to his family members on how they would be viewed by the Egyptians. He seems to have gathered them together before they unloaded their carts. It is like seeing the Joads packed altogether with their belongings piled up on their Model A Ford
in the 1940 classic film “The Grapes of Wrath”
inspired by Steinbeck’s novel
. Most probably, Joseph huddled his family together to speak in a hushed voice or with whispers of wisdom in order to make sure that everyone was on the same page.
He coached them on what to say. He prepared them for being called before the king of Egypt
. He wanted to ensure that all of his people had their stories straight before they ever encountered or interacted with Pharaoh or any of his other officials. He wanted to make sure that no one made a mistake or brought about any trouble due to ignorance of what they had come into when they entered into Egypt.
He would speak up for his family in the royal court and share what they all did for a living. Joseph had a prominent position and could share such information with Pharaoh without the ruler feeling that these outsiders would present a threat to his kingdom.
Joseph Assured His Family:
Based upon his position, Joseph was able to assure his family that they would live in Goshen as shepherds. They would be able to herd their livestock
. Even though every shepherd is an abomination to the Egyptians
, they would be able to tend to their flocks freely in Goshen.
These people would be able to practice their trade in this new land. The occupants of the land would not care for them,according to Joseph, due to their occupation. Yet, they would not bother them either.
Joseph gathered his family together to inform them. He brought them together to prepare them. He huddled them together to coach them. He did all of this to protect and support them.
Look at Joseph’s family leadership example. He did not seek to usurp any authority from his father. He did not claim to stand in the stead of his eldest brother. He did not seek to break any cultural traditions or forsake any religious practices. He simply spoke up and shared some advice that could help his family survive in a foreign land.
We sure could use a reminder of how to do likewise these days.
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