The big Biblical bailout of Egypt

With all the economic problems around the world today, and governments everywhere printing money to bail out (ie buy up) banks and other companies, it is easy to forget that this has a very strong precedent in the Bible.

Consider the account of Joseph, who was at the time Prime Minister (or equivalent) of Egypt (the Pharaoh’s second in command). Joseph knew through a prophetic dream that there would be seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. He collected grain during the seven years of plenty and stored it (Genesis 41:37-49). When the years of famine came, he opened the storehouses to feed the people (Genesis 41:53-57).

But note that he didn’t just give the food away – he sold it. (Genesis 47:13-26) In fact, “Joseph gathered up all the money that was found in the land of Egypt and in the land of Canaan, in exchange for the grain that they bought.” (v14). Once the people had no money left, Joseph bought their livestock (v17), their land (v20), and the people themselves (v21).

Joseph bailed out the entire land of Egypt from their crisis, nationalising the entire agricultural industry – as Pharaoh owned the land, the livestock, and even the people.

Having nationalised the industry, he imposed a 20% tax on all produce (v23-26), which was Pharaoh’s return on his investment.

Isn’t the similarity to today incredible? But there is one big difference:

Joseph bought everything using real assets (grain) that he had saved.

Today, governments may try to buy out industry. But they are doing so using money they have fabricated from thin air, or borrowed, or taken from taxpayers.

What Joseph did was legitimate trading of real, saved assets, not the juggling of funny money. Furthermore he saved many people from starving to death.

But governments today may, just to save people from dropping their living standards a bit, use funny money to achieve exactly what he did – state control of industry. While being encouraged by most people. It is worrying that so many people are so keen to sacrifice their freedom for temporary financial gain.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

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