The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land.
Joseph demonstrates humility in how he presents his family to Pharaoh. At the end of Genesis 46, Joseph coaches his brothers before they meet Pharaoh. He says, “When Pharaoh calls you and says, ‘What is your occupation?’ you shall say, “Your servants have been keepers of livestock from our youth even until now, both we and our fathers,’ that you might live in the land of Goshen; for every shepherd is loathsome to the Egyptians” (vv. 33-34).
Remember when you were going to introduce a new boyfriend or girlfriend to your parents for the first time? Remember what that was like? You probably engaged in some coaching in order to help them make a good impression. Well, that’s what is going on here. Joseph wants his brothers to make a good impression on Pharaoh, so he says to them, “Don’t say you’re shepherds. Shepherds are not well thought of in Egypt. Instead, say you are ranchers–you tend the livestock. That will make Pharaoh think more of you.”
Now, Joseph wasn’t asking them to lie; his brothers actually did both. He was showing wisdom. He said, “There’s no need to unnecessarily offend the Egyptians.” We see Joseph’s humility in this. Joseph was governor, so he could have said, “You know what? This is my family and these Egyptians can accept them whether they like it or not.” What a big mistake that would have been.
The next chapter is the moment of truth. “Pharaoh said to his brothers, ‘What is your occupation?’ So they said to Pharaoh, ‘Your servants are shepherds’” (Genesis 47:3). You can just see Joseph over in the corner. “Come on, guys, we went over this.” But look at what they say next: “They said to Pharaoh, ‘We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. Now, therefore, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen’” (v. 4). The word “sojourn” means to dwell temporarily. They were saying, “Egypt is not our home. We are just here temporarily until we can go back to our true home.”
That should be the attitude of every Christian about this life on earth. Our life is not about here; it’s about heaven. And it’s not about now; it’s about eternity. Joseph’s brothers understood that.
Pharaoh was so moved that he said to Joseph, “The land of Egypt is at your disposal; settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land, let them live in the land of Goshen” (v. 6). Joseph was looking out for the welfare of his brothers. But he was also looking out for his employer, Pharaoh. He came up with a win-win situation that would not only serve Pharaoh and his brothers, but this idea would also serve the purpose of God.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Lessons in Leadership” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.