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Jews begin the Passover holiday with a special service during dinner at home called the "seder". It reminds Jews how God freed their ancestors from slavery in ancient Egypt. During Easter, Christians celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus during that same Passover holiday.

Christians know the story of Joseph and how the family of Jacob came to Egypt; and they are also familiar with the great miracles that God performed to get the Jewish slaves out of Egypt and back into Canaan. But how many consider the circumstances that brought the Jews out of Canaan and into slavery?

In Sunday school, we are taught that the Egyptians were ungrateful to Joseph, who saved Egypt from starvation, but it was Joseph who brought Jacob and 65 members of his family to Egypt. And it was Joseph's generosity and preferential treatment of the Jews that made the Jews hated in the eyes of the Egyptians.

When Joseph brought his family to Egypt, Pharaoh gave them whatever Joseph asked. They got prime agricultural property "in the land of Ramses" and Joseph provided them free room & board for the remainder of the famine and probably for several years afterward!

Joseph could have provided for his family while they were still in Canaan. Jacob knew that they belonged in Canaan and just before he died 18 years later, he insisted on being buried there. At the very least, the Jews should have returned to Canaan when the famine ended, but they had it too good.

After Joseph interpreted the king's dreams, Pharaoh made him second in command with a free hand to save Egypt from starvation in any way he chose. He taxed the farmers 20% of their harvests during the seven good years (Genesis 41:34, 48 + 49). When the seven years of famine came, the people begged Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh sent them to Joseph, who sold grain back to the Egyptians and to many others. The law of supply and demand would indicate that the grain brought premium prices.

First, Joseph brought all the money into Pharaoh's treasury (Genesis 47:14). When the money failed, the people gave all their livestock to Pharaoh, and after that, their houses and lands. Finally, they presented themselves as slaves to Pharaoh. With no lands, homes, or other options, the people were moved into government housing projects (Genesis 47:21). The people who lost everything to big government responded worshipfully, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants. (Genesis 47:25).

It was perhaps at the insistence of Pharaoh, that the Egyptian priestly families were exempted from the sacrifices required of other Egyptians, but it could also have been Joseph's wife, Asenath, daughter of Potipherah, priest of On, who insisted on exemptions (Genesis 47:22).

Privilege and preferential treatment leads to an entitlement attitude, which breeds complacency and eventually ends in loss of freedom. Exodus 1:8 should be a warning to anyone who depends on the government for sustenance. A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
  Romans 15:4

Ralph V Harvey, 2015