Genesis 41:33
Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
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Genesis 41:33. Let Pharaoh look out a man — It was not presumption in Joseph to offer this advice to Pharaoh, considering that God, by him, had given Pharaoh the fore-knowledge of what was about to come to pass, and what greatly concerned both him and his whole kingdom. Indeed, the advice was only that he should make a practical and proper use of the revelation now made to him. Joseph, in giving this counsel, could have no view to his own advancement to this office; as any thing of that kind, at that time, when he was just brought out of prison, and did not know but he must be sent back thither, must have appeared highly improbable.41:33-45 Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should always be followed by good counsel. God has in his word told us of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, a revealer of secrets. This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some translate Joseph's new name, the saviour of the world. The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth.Joseph now proceeds to interpret the dream, and offer counsel suitable to the emergency. "What the God is about to do." The God, the one true, living, eternal God, in opposition to all false gods. "And because the dream was repeated." This is explained to denote the certainty and immediateness of the event. The beautiful elucidation of the dream needs no comment. Joseph now naturally passes from the interpreter to the adviser. He is all himself on this critical occasion. His presence of mind never forsakes him. The openness of heart and readiness of speech, for which he was early distinguished, now stand him in good stead. His thorough self-command arises from spontaneously throwing himself, with all his heart, into the great national emergency which is before his mind. And his native simplicity of heart, practical good sense, anti force of character break forth into unasked, but not unaccepted counsel. "A man discreet" - intelligent, capable of understanding the occasion; wise, prudent, capable of acting accordingly. "Let Pharaoh proceed" - take the following steps: "Take the fifth" of the produce of the land. "Under the hand of Pharaoh." Under his supreme control.

The measures here suggested to Pharaoh were, we must suppose in conformity with the civil institutions of the country. Thee exaction of a fifth, or two tithes, during the period of plenty, may have been an extraordinary measure, which the absolute power of the monarch enabled him to enforce for the public safety. The sovereign was probably dependent for his revenues on the produce of the crown lands, certain taxes on exports or imports, and occasional gifts or forced contributions from his subjects. This extraordinary fifth was, probably, of the last description, and was fully warranted by the coming emergency. The "gathering up of all the food" may imply that, in addition to the fifth, large purchases of corn were made by the government out of the surplus produce of the country.

33. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man—The explanation given, when the key to the dreams was supplied, appears to have been satisfactory to the king and his courtiers; and we may suppose that much and anxious conversation arose, in the course of which Joseph might have been asked whether he had anything further to say. No doubt the providence of God provided the opportunity of his suggesting what was necessary. No text from Poole on this verse. Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise,.... Of good judgment and conduct, of abilities equal to the execution of a scheme hereafter proposed: it can scarcely be thought consistent with the great modesty of Joseph that he meant himself, or that indeed, he ventured to give any advice at all, until it was first asked of him by the king; who being so well satisfied with the interpretation of his dreams, thought him a proper person to consult with what to be done in this case; who, as a true father of his country, as every king should be, was concerned for the good of it, and to provide against the worst for them:

and set him over the land of Egypt; not to be governor of it in general, but with a particular respect to the present case, to take care of provision for it.

Now therefore let Pharaoh {i} look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.

(i) The office of a true prophet is not only to show the evils to come, but also the remedies for the same.

33–36. Joseph’s Counsel

33. let Pharaoh, &c.] Joseph leaves the office of interpreter, and takes upon himself to give political counsel to the king of Egypt.Verses 33-36. - Now therefore (adds Joseph, passing on to suggest measures suitable to meet the extraordinary emergency predicted) let Pharaoh look out a man discreet (נָבון, niph. part. of בִּין, intelligent, discerning), and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers (literally, let him set overseers, פְקִדִים, from פָּקַד, to look after, in hiph. to cause to look after) over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt - literally, let him fifth the land, i.e. levy. a tax upon its produce to that extent (LXX., Vulgate), which was double the annual impost exacted from Egyptian farmers, but which the unprecedented fertility of the soil enabled them to bear without complaint, if, indeed, adequate compensation was not given for the second tenth (Rosenmüller) - in the Seven plenteous years. Diodorus mentions the payment of a fifth in productive years as a primitive custom (vide Havernick, p. 219). And let them (the officers) gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and lot them keep feed in the cities (or, food in the cities, and let them keep it). And that food shall be for store (literally, something deposited) to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine - literally; and the land (i.e. the people of the land) shall not be cut off in, or by, the famine. Pharaoh immediately sent for Joseph. As quickly as possible he was fetched from the prison; and after shaving the hair of his head and beard, and changing his clothes, as the customs of Egypt required (see Hengst. Egypt and the Books of Moses, p. 30), he went in to the king. On the king's saying to him, "I have heard of thee (עליך de te), thou hearest a dream to interpret it," - i.e., thou only needest to hear a dream, and thou canst at once interpret it - Joseph replied, "Not I((בּלעדי, lit., "not so far as me," this is not in my power, vid., Genesis 14:24), God will answer Pharaoh's good," i.e., what shall profit Pharaoh; just as in Genesis 40:8 he had pointed the two prisoners away from himself to God. Pharaoh then related his double dream (Genesis 41:17-24), and Joseph gave the interpretation (Genesis 41:25-32): "The dream of Pharaoh is one (i.e., the two dreams have the same meaning); God hath showed Pharaoh what He is about to do." The seven cows and seven ears of corn were seven years, the fat ones very fertile years of superabundance, the lean ones very barren years of famine; the latter would follow the former over the whole land of Egypt, so that the years of famine would leave no trace of the seven fruitful years; and, "for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice" (i.e., so far as this fact is concerned, it signifies) "that the thing is firmly resolved by God, and God will quickly carry it out." In the confidence of this interpretation which looked forward over fourteen years, the divinely enlightened seer's glance was clearly manifested, and could not fail to make an impression upon the king, when contrasted with the perplexity of the Egyptian augurs and wise men. Joseph followed up his interpretation by the advice (Genesis 41:33-36), that Pharaoh should "look out (ירא) a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt;" and cause יעשׂה) that in the seven years of superabundance he should raise fifths (חמּשׁ), i.e., the fifth part of the harvest, through overseers, and have the corn, or the stores of food (אכל), laid up in the cities "under the hand of the king," i.e., by royal authority and direction, as food for the land for the seven years of famine, that it might not perish through famine.
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