Joseph as Prime Minister
Genesis 41:40
You shall be over my house, and according to your word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than you.

Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. Sudden elevations are often the precursors of sudden falls. It was not so with Joseph. He filled satisfactorily his position, retaining it to the end of life. He made himself indispensable to Pharaoh and to the country. He was a man of decision. Seeing what had to be done, he hesitated not in commencing it. Going from the presence of Pharaoh, he passed throughout the land, arranging for granaries and appointing officers to grapple with the seven years of famine which were imminent. Doubtless he felt the weight of responsibility resting upon him, and would have many restless nights in calculating how by means of the money then in the treasury and by forced loans to meet the expenditure for granaries, grain, and official salaries. He superintended everything. By method he mastered detail.

I. CONSIDER THE POLICY OF THIS EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER. Many things we admire in Joseph, but we must not be blind to the fact that he thought more of binding the people to the throne than of benefiting the people themselves. He was the first statesman of that day. His policy determined in great measure what should be the standard of internal prosperity, and what position the country should hold in the eyes of other nations. He sought to make Pharaoh's rule absolute. He gave no benefit without payment, no supplies without sacrifice. He took all the money first (Genesis 47:14), then the cattle (ibid. ver. 16), then the lands and their persons (ibid. ver. 23). He thus reduced the people of Egypt to the position of slaves. He made all the land crown lands. Thus the monarch was pleased, and the priests, being exempt, were flattered. It is possible that in this Joseph laid the foundation of that system of mismanagement, which has made the most flourishing spot in the world the basest of kingdoms. He seems also to have striven to give some sort of preeminence to his brethren, and to advance them. Exempt from the burdens pressing on others, they gained power, and would have become eventually the dominant race in Egypt, but that another Pharaoh arose who knew not Joseph, i.e. who, although he knew of his having lived and served the nation, yet recognized not his policy. The state to which Joseph reduced the Egyptians was that to which afterwards his own descendants were reduced. Thus our plans are overthrown. Time tries success, and by removing dimness from our vision enables us to test it better.

II. CONSIDER THE PRIVATE LIFE OF THIS EGYPTIAN PRIME MINISTER, He was soon led to conform to the spirit and practice of an ungodly nation. He used a divining cup (Genesis 44:15, 16), took his meals apart (Genesis 43:32), recognizing and sustaining class distinctions. He learned the mode of speech common among the Egyptians, swore by the life of Pharaoh (Genesis 42:15), and was affianced to an idolatress, probably a priestess (Genesis 41:45). He made no effort to return to his own land, or to the pastoral life of his fathers. It was in his power also for nine years to have sent to make search for his father, who was sorrowing for him as dead, but he sent not. Not until trouble, by an apparent chance, drove his brethren to him did he appear to think of them, or of home and Jacob. When they came he was very slow to make known himself, as though he feared it might compromise him in the eyes of the Egyptians to be known to have relatives who were shepherds, an occupation which was abominable to the Egyptians (Genesis 46:34). When he revealed himself to them, it was without the knowledge or presence of the Egyptians. He removed his brethren also to a distant part of Egypt: that they might not constantly, by their presence, remind him and others of his origin. We fancy that Joseph had weaknesses and imperfections such as other men had. He had dwelt in Egypt and caught its spirit. In the names he gave to his children there seems some indication of regret at his forgetfulness and wonder at his fruitfulness. Amid views that might depress there is some brightness. His forgiveness of his brethren was noble. His affection for his father returned. His faith in God was pure at last. Dying, he "gave commandment concerning his bones." He showed that though outwardly an Egyptian, he was inwardly an Israelite. - H.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

WEB: You shall be over my house, and according to your word will all my people be ruled. Only in the throne I will be greater than you."

The Secret of Joseph's Elevation
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