“The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole landof Egypt there was food. When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, `Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.’” (Genesis 41: 53-55)
It is heart-rending to learn what people will sometimes do in order to quell the pangs of hunger. In a desperate response to food shortages, they may riot and steal as is being witnessed in various countries around the world in recent times. In the story of Joseph, we see that people were prepared to do everything that he said in order to avoid starvation. Put in such a situation, acts of desperation to avoid immediate tragedy are understandable.
Such was the case in Egypt almost 4,000 years ago when Joseph reigned as vice-regent. He had been put in charge of the entire kingdom of the Pharaoh and was commissioned to prepare the nation for a coming seven-year famine. He ended up being an economic potentate. The entire commercial structure of the known world at that time, as well as almost all the land in Egypt came under the control of this one man.
Thankfully, Joseph was a godly person and his actions led to the saved lives of perhaps millions of people. Yet, the Bible remains silent on its judgment of his techniques. However, it is evident to any reader that the consequences of his actions were not entirely ideal. The entire ownership structure of the land of Egypt was changed virtually overnight from private ownership to vassalage. Also, as a result of Joseph’s policies, a system of onerous taxation resulted that is “still in force to today.” (Genesis 47:26)
Just imagine what would happen if this type of power were given to a diabolical person?
A Sometime Misinterpreted Story
The Bible story of Joseph, one of the 12 sons of Jacob, is a popular favorite. Not only does it celebrate the ultimate blessings that accrued to a righteous man, the story also shows how God can miraculously enter into the seemingly unfortunate occurrences of our lives and ultimately work them out for good. (Romans 8:28) Yet, it may also be true that some aspects of Joseph’s life have been sometimes misinterpreted. For one, more than a few twist this Biblical account as a proof reference for the existence of modern day Josephs.
For example, an organization called the Joseph Company exists today whose mission involves people who they claim have the “anointing of Joseph. People who have been prepared by God to be to our generation as Joseph was to his, with focus on preservation of life and the awareness of God-ordained transfers of wealth and power.” The Bible does not say that Joseph was anointed nor that there is any such special anointing today. There surely are people who are “double-gifted” in business just as there are talented violinists.
Also, the story of Joseph is often used by those who wish to legitimize their quest for riches or claim a basis for a Spirit-led ability to profitably forecast financial markets and economic trends. If anything, the story of Joseph counsels the exact opposite as we will see. What also may not be immediately obvious is that there are many levels of prophetic foreshadowing to be found in this account, not to mention endtime warnings for Christians living today. We will only scratch the surface of these possible meanings here. There is little harm in availing ourselves of the interpretive modes of both “remez” (prophetic hints) and “midrash” (parallels and allegories), so long as we do not obviate or revise any literal plain meanings of the entirety of Scripture.
In fact, doing so, we see that the account of Joseph found in the first book of the Bible actually foreshadows the great dangers of an economic enslavement of the world in the last days — what is today the growing result of globalization. (What is globalization? It is the present-day process bringing about a world-controlling, materialistic structure under the common incentives of prosperity and gain.) It makes for a very interesting and surprising perspective.
Joseph: The Picture of an Economic Savior
Many see Joseph as an Old Testament picture of Christ. He suffered so that he might be able to save his family in Egypt; to go ahead and prepare a place for them. Much is also made of the fact that Joseph is the only character in the entire Bible besides Christ of which no character flaw or sin is explicitly mentioned. While this is true, Joseph was a sinner like every other human being. The only difference is that his sins and misdeeds are a little more hidden. In fact, through his errors, this great man of God like all the others from Abraham to King David can be seen to have bequeathed lessons to mankind that are very relevant for our day.
A closer examination of his life reveals that the results of his actions were not entirely virtuous. While it is true that he served to save many lives, his mission was not performed entirely in the spirit of a merciful rescue operation. In the end, he instituted an oppressive system of control over the people of Egypt. Egyptians had to virtually sell their souls and freedoms to gain access to food. With the exception of a few — mainly Egyptian priests, the immediate family of Joseph and probably other high-ranking elites — the entire land of Egypt came under the direct ownership of Pharaoh.
It is instructive to review how this all happened. When the famine first spread over the whole country, “Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians.” (Genesis 41: 56) Notice that he did not donate the grain to needy people, but instead required payment. Think of it. People were starving and he asked for money. Few Christian aid organizations today would think that they are fulfilling Christ’s command to “feed the poor” if they were profiting from their ministries. Another aspect to notice is that “… all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.” (verse-57) Here in the first book of the Bible we find the very roots of modern-day “globalization.” The whole world converged together for reasons of “bread.” Egypt had become the world commercial center and its grain became the common currency. Pharaoh came to this position of controlling the entire world by dispensing the means of economic sustenance. Here we see that the incentive of gaining “bread” had been harnessed by one centralized system … even one man. This same process is sweeping the entire world today under the guise of “globalization” — the promise of bread for the entire world.”
In time, because the famine was so severe, Scripture tells us that Joseph collected all the money that was found in Egypt and Canaan. No doubt, he deposited the funds in Pharaoh’s coffers. He took every last penny in return for grain so that people might eat and be saved from the famine. What was the result? Now, the entire monetary system of that time was under his control.
Once all the monetary savings of the people had been used up, they then faced a cash-crunch. The famine continued yet they had no grain and no money. What to do next? They begged Joseph to give them food. What did Joseph do in response? He next took control of the nation’s industry. He demanded their livestock. “So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.” (Genesis 47:17)
Now Joseph was in control of a large part of the capital stock of Egypt. For Pharaoh he now had secured the ownership of the land-based transportation system (donkeys and horses)and the productive capacity of factories … in other words, livestock. After all, in an agrarian society as existed during that time, livestock represented assets that generated food and a large part of household income. Now that Joseph had control of the key “factories” he could also now sell the outputs of milk and meat, as well as transportation services.
However, the takeover by the state didn’t stop there. The famine continued. People needed more grain and they became desperate. “Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh,” they now said. (verse 19) So Joseph did exactly that. He completely reduced the people to servitude and all the land — from one end of Egyptto the other — became the property of the state and under the control of one man.
Yes, Joseph saved many lives by storing up grain during the seven good years. That was good. But were his specific techniques ordered by God? He may have even gathered all the excess grain in the land by decree. No mention is made of him buying the surplus grain, though it specifically states that he later sold it. Scripture simply says that he gathered it. In fact, the text strongly suggests that he did not buy the grain, stating that the stockpiles eventually became so large that he was no longer able to keep an account of their size. (Genesis 41:49) Had he purchased the grain with money from the Pharaoh’s treasury, this problem would likely not have occurred. We can be reasonably sure that the Pharaoh would have required an accounting of how his money was being spent.
Whatever the case, whether or not policies of confiscation were pursued, in the end all the people of the land ended up in complete servitude. It doesn’t appear so much a work of mercy when it becomes clear that the whole saga turned out to be a giant opportunity for the secular Pharaoh to gain power and wealth at the expense of those in need.
An Endtime Trap Foreshadowed
How long did it take for the entire known world to come under economic bondage to the Pharaoh? Scripture suggests possibly three and one half years. Three one year periods appear to be indicated, two of them mentioned specifically. Livestock was used in payment for one year of grain supply. (Genesis 47:17) Another year was survived by giving up ownership of land. (verse 18) Before these two years, Joseph had already taken all the money in the land. (verses 13-15) For several reasons we could conclude that this period could not have taken any longer than one year. As most wealth was represented by livestock and land in that day, physical money did not play as significant a role in the livelihoods of people. If only one year’s grain was purchased with livestock, then their money would certainly not have lasted any longer than a one period either. And, as already suggested, Joseph may not have bought the grain in the first place. Therefore, the seven years of plenty would not have produced a big cash horde in people’s pockets.
On this logic, we so far count no more than three years. One additional half year is accounted for by the fact that it would have required at least one crop cycle for people to run out of food. As the Nile basin at times could support two grain harvests each year, it would be logical to assume that people would only have had laid aside provisions for one half-year, long enough to last until the next harvest. In any case, Joseph’s massive gathering program of excess grain would have ensured that not much more would have been laid aside by private farmers. That suggests that six-months of drought would have first taken place before food shortages occurred.
If our postulations here are correct, we can conclude that it required a three and one-half year period to bring the entire world under the control of one system that was under the authority of one man. From that time on they were in bondage, required to pay a 20% tax on the output of their labours.
This first three and one-half year period of the seven-year famine (“the beginning of birth pains”- Mathew 24:8) can be seen to foreshadow the first half of the 7-year Tribulation. It is during this period that a great world ruler gains increasing power, the Antichrist. He first brings the world under his control in the name of peace and prosperity. Then, once he has much of the world in his grip, he tightens the noose and brings doom to the earth. Later yet, starts the Great Tribulation, the second three and one-half years (also known as Jacob’s trouble – Jeremiah 30:7).
Is the alignment between Joseph and the Antichrist a coincidence … perhaps even a sacrilege of the beautiful story of Joseph? Not any more than is the recognition that this diabolical last-day ruler is specifically also conjured up to be a false christ, the Antichrist. If you agree Joseph was a type of Christ, then wouldn’t it only follow that the Antichrist would also be an Anti-joseph? Whereas Joseph had a benevolent calling ordered by God to save physical lives, the Antichrist is a demonically-inspired person that seeks to physically entrap mankind for the purpose of destruction and his worship. Jesus Christ came to offer spiritual life for an eternity. The Antichrist comes to do the opposite.
Even if the three and one-half year period required by Joseph to enslave all of Egypt is an inappropriate parallel to the timeline of the first half of the Tribulation, the process of the enslavement of the people is highly significant. For the sake of bread, the people first gave up their money, then their livelihoods and professions, then their land and bodies and souls.
Points to Ponder
Today, many people are looking for a modern-day Joseph — an economic savior. They want to find solace in a comfortable life, low mortgage payments, a secure job, growing financial wealth, expanding export markets and an unfettered playing field for the globe’s burgeoning multinational corporations.
Globalization is the sure route to that outcome say many leaders and politicians. It is the sure route to a “World free of poverty” (the slogan of World Bank). However, we must freely participate with our hearts, land and factories to serve this global system so that we might take part in the fruits of a world-wide economic order. So it may be. However, humanity risks falling captive to an Anti-joseph.
As the world looks to this system for sustenance, they become enslaved to its rulers and potentates. Eventually one man — the Antichrist — will arrive at its pinnacle of power to take control. And, most likely, he at first will appear as an Anti-joseph. After all, today, people are more interested in an economic savior than a spiritual one. Much of the world — certainly the societies in the Western World — have already forfeited their spiritual futures in their primary pursuit of earthly prosperity and happiness. Anyone who offers workable solutions to that end will be gladly received.
Were the people angry with Joseph when he enslaved them? Not at all. “`You have saved our lives,’ they said. `May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.’” (Genesis 47:25) Here we see that they willing gave themselves up for bondage to the Pharaoh so that they might eat.
The entire world will do so again the Bible indicates. Only this time it will be in response to Anti-joseph. They will willingly allow themselves to become economically and financially enslaved to a diabolically-inspired person. Why? So that they might eat … that they may have economic security and hopes of a material quality of life.
This process is already long underway on a broader scale in the form of a world “globalization,” accelerating in leaps and bounds these past few decades. This phenomenon itself has virtually become a god of prosperity and is already advanced to the point where Anti-joseph could arise at any time. That day could be very near. Only the Lord tarries, the Church and the Paraclete first to be removed.
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About the Author: Wilfred J. Hahn is a global economist/strategist. Formerly a top-ranked global analyst and chairman of the country’s largest global investment operation his writings focus on the endtime roles of money, economics and globalization. He has been quoted around the world and his writings reproduced in numerous other publications and languages. His most recent book is The Endtime Money Snare: How to live free.
 The Joseph Company, International House of Prayer. http://www.ihop.org/Group/Group.aspx?id=23144. Accessed April 25, 2008
 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. Proverbs 25:21. Also see Matthew 25:34-46.