This is an interesting passage that I'm not sure I paid much attention to before.
Joseph had stored up all the food in Egypt to last during the famine.
And first, the Egyptians paid for food. Then they traded all their livestock for food. And lastly, they traded their freedom - their land and theirselves for food.
Joseph gave them food, while all the land and livestock in Egypt now belonged to Pharaoh. Joseph instructs them - here is your seed, which you will work Pharaoh's land. At harvest time, 1/5 becomes Pharaoh's and the rest you keep to re-plant, or feed yourself and your families.
All of Egypt is now Pharaoh's servants.
It was a sharecropper sort of agreement, and one the Egyptians gladly accepted. Joseph did not blame the Egyptians for not being prepared as he was, he administrated well. And the Israelites prospered during this time.
Deffinbaugh's sermon on this speaks of prosperity and poverty, outlining the story in more detail, and how the slavery was not horrific abuse as we think of it, and how really, it led to the Israelites downfall. My favorite part though, is how he wraps it up:
I must remind you, as one of our congregation reminded me, that Joseph asked no more of the Egyptians than God has required of those who will be eternally saved. The Egyptians valued their physical salvation so much that they gave up their money, their material goods, and even themselves to Joseph. These are the terms which God has laid down for men to have eternal life: unconditional surrender. We must come to the point of realizing that our condition is terminal, that we are facing death. And we must place our entire future in the hands of Jesus Christ just as the Egyptians trusted in Joseph. We must surrender every element of self-sufficiency, everything of value, and rely solely upon Jesus Christ, who has died upon the cross of Calvary for our salvation. He offers to us all the riches of heaven if we only trust in Him completely. May God enable you to trust in Him for your salvation.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 48