Live and Not Die 2: Not Die Harder
13 The famine was still in full force in both Egypt and Canaan, 14 and Joseph had been selling the Egyptians their own grain back at inflated prices until there was no money left in the land except for in Pharaoh’s palace. 15 But people still needed food, so when they came to Joseph crying, ‘Give us food. We’re all going to die!’ Joseph told them to exchange livestock for grain instead.
16 ‘Oh, great!’ moaned the Egyptians. ‘Now, not only will you have all our grain and money, but now you’ll have all our animals too! What’s next, our land?’
‘No,’ reassured Joseph, ‘I would never do such a thing.’
17 So, the Egyptians traded their livestock including horses, donkeys, sheep, goats, and cattle to Joseph in exchange for food.
18 By the end of the year, the Egyptians had completely run out of livestock, but they still needed food. So, they went to Joseph and said, ‘We have no money and no livestock to trade, but we are starving! 19 Please give us food, so that we may live and not die! Or even some seed so that we can grow our own food.’
‘What? “Live and not die”? Who talks like that?’ asked Joseph.
The people were silent.
‘Anyway,’ began Joseph, ‘since you don’t have any livestock to trade, why not give me your land in exchange for grain?’
‘But you said you’d never do such a thing!’ wailed the people.
‘No, I didn’t!’ scolded Joseph. ‘Have you been listening to the fake news or something?’
20 So, the people agreed to give their land to Joseph in exchange for food, because they had no other choice. 21 Pharaoh acquired all the land through Joseph, and all the people of Egypt were left with nothing. 22 The only people, aside from Pharaoh and Joseph, who were left with any land were the priests, because they were allotted food rations by Pharaoh.
23 Now that Pharaoh owned all of the land, Joseph gave the Egyptians seeds to sow and put them to work on the land as serfs. 24 Joseph made a proclamation: ‘When you work the fields, you can keep four-fifths of what you harvest, but a fifth will go to Pharaoh.’
The Egyptians replied, ‘Well, it’s good that we get to produce our own crops again, but it kind of sucks that we’re now in serfdom to Pharaoh.’
Joseph shot the people a stern look.
25 ‘Oh, we mean thank you. You’ve saved our lives! May we find favour in the eyes of our lord Joseph. We’re happy to be in servitude to Pharaoh!’
So, the law was established that day that a fifth of all the land’s produce would go to the Pharaoh.
27 Meanwhile, the Israelites (that is, Jacob aka Israel and his family) were living happily in Goshen. They didn’t have to pay the tax that the Egyptians had to, and due to their special treatment, they prospered.
28 After 17 years of living in Egypt, Jacob died aged 147. At this point in the story, however, he’s not dead. I just thought I’d let you know that it’s coming any time now. Try to act surprised.
29 Israel called for Joseph, and he said to him, ‘Son, I’m very close to death.’
‘Don’t say that, father,’ protested Joseph.
30 ‘No, no, it’s true. Please, cup my balls and tell me that you won’t bury me here amongst these bloody foreigners. I want to be carried back to Canaan and buried with my parents.’
So, Joseph cupped his father’s balls and said, ‘I will do as you say.’
31 ‘Swear to me!’ insisted Israel.
‘No, seriously, swear to me!’
‘Fuck,’ sobbed Joseph.
‘That’s my boy,’ smiled Israel, and he balanced himself on top of his staff like one of those little trolls you used to stick on the end of a pencil, and began to pray.