Governing successfully takes wisdom and skill, and Joseph possessed them both.
He had a fool-proof plan to settle his family in a choice spot of Egyptian land. He made tactical use of their occupation as shepherds. We read in the closing verse of the previous chapter that “all shepherds are abhorrent to the Egyptians.” Joseph had instructed them to reside in Goshen where they could live as livestock farmers. Now he got Pharaoh to confirm that, and to give them charge over Pharaoh’s own livestock!
I have only one disagreement with Pharaoh’s scheme though: The Egyptians viewed shepherds with scorn, yet they needed their service. Well it was more than an Egyptian thing. That too, became a Jewish thing. Shepherds often had bloody hands as they rescued their sheep from predator wolves, and as they bound up their sheep’s injuries. That disqualified them from participating in ‘holy’ things since they were often ‘ritually unclean.’ Small wonder that it was to shepherds that the angels announced the birth of the Messiah!
Yes, Joseph successfully “settled his father and his brothers, and granted them a holding in the land of Egypt, in the best part of the land, in the land of Rameses, as Pharaoh had instructed.”
Joseph saw, not only to his family’s welfare, but he also took care of Pharaoh’s, and oversaw this ruler’s rise in economic and political power. In what seemed to be a fitting humanitarian response, he provided food for farmers and their starving families, taking in exchange their flocks and herds, so that all lands came into Pharaoh’s possession. For management of these lands he secured the people’s agreement to become Pharaoh’s slaves.
They allegiance as slaves to Pharaoh came out of what seemed to be a win-win situation. Joseph secured one fifth of the produce of the land while meeting the needs of enslaved farmers. Only priestly families were exempt from this provision. The workers were happy about this, saying “you have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be slaves to Pharaoh.”
Through all of this, Joseph’s family prospered till Jacob’s old age. His father required him to organise a burial outside of Egyptian territory, a request that Joseph swore he would honour.
Interesting. In all Jacob’s prosperity, he always wanted to go back home. Even to death, he wanted to be buried at home, not in a strange land. Place attachment is powerful, yes.
In these days of mass media communications and ICTs, there is big business in livestreaming funerals. Most of the little islands in my part of the world have booming business in livestreaming funeral services and burials. For those buried at home, people abroad can join the thanksgiving as it happens. And if someone dies as part of a diaspora, those at home are linked to the funeral.