Thursday, January 08, 2009

Quick Torah Thought

A guest post by JS:

In last week's parsha we read:
כ וַיִּקֶן יוֹסֵף אֶת-כָּל-אַדְמַת מִצְרַיִם, לְפַרְעֹה, כִּי-מָכְרוּ מִצְרַיִם אִישׁ שָׂדֵהוּ, כִּי-חָזַק עֲלֵהֶם הָרָעָב; וַתְּהִי הָאָרֶץ, לְפַרְעֹה.
כא וְאֶת-הָעָם--הֶעֱבִיר אֹתוֹ, לֶעָרִים: מִקְצֵה גְבוּל-מִצְרַיִם, וְעַד-קָצֵהוּ.
כב רַק אַדְמַת הַכֹּהֲנִים, לֹא קָנָה: כִּי חֹק לַכֹּהֲנִים מֵאֵת פַּרְעֹה, וְאָכְלוּ אֶת-חֻקָּם אֲשֶׁר נָתַן לָהֶם פַּרְעֹה--עַל-כֵּן, לֹא מָכְרוּ אֶת-אַדְמָתָם.
כד וְהָיָה, בַּתְּבוּאֹת, וּנְתַתֶּם חֲמִישִׁית, לְפַרְעֹה; וְאַרְבַּע הַיָּדֹת יִהְיֶה לָכֶם לְזֶרַע הַשָּׂדֶה וּלְאָכְלְכֶם, וְלַאֲשֶׁר בְּבָתֵּיכֶם--וְלֶאֱכֹל לְטַפְּכֶם.
כה וַיֹּאמְרוּ, הֶחֱיִתָנוּ; נִמְצָא-חֵן בְּעֵינֵי אֲדֹנִי, וְהָיִינוּ עֲבָדִים לְפַרְעֹה.
כו וַיָּשֶׂם אֹתָהּ יוֹסֵף לְחֹק עַד-הַיּוֹם הַזֶּה עַל-אַדְמַת מִצְרַיִם, לְפַרְעֹה--לַחֹמֶשׁ: רַק אַדְמַת הַכֹּהֲנִים, לְבַדָּם--לֹא הָיְתָה, לְפַרְעֹה.

20 So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine was sore upon them; and the land became Pharaoh's.
21 And as for the people, he removed them city by city, from one end of the border of Egypt even to the other end thereof.
22 Only the land of the priests bought he not, for the priests had a portion from Pharaoh, and did eat their portion which Pharaoh gave them; wherefore they sold not their land.
24 And it shall come to pass at the ingatherings, that ye shall give a fifth unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own, for seed of the field, and for your food, and for them of your households, and for food for your little ones.'
25 And they said: 'Thou hast saved our lives. Let us find favour in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's bondmen.'
26 And Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt unto this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; only the land of the priests alone became not Pharaoh's.

In short, the people of Egypt, having traded their money and their animals, finally trade their land and themselves for food and become slaves (perhaps indentured servants is a better term) to Pharaoh. Only the priestly class is exempted and are allowed to keep their land and freedom.

Interestingly, in what I believe is an example of "according to the ways of Egypt though shalt not follow," Hashem orders the exact opposite situation for the Jews when they settle in Israel:

1) In Egypt, no one had land except for the priestly class. In Israel, all 11 tribes receive land and the priestly class, the tribe of Levi, do not receive a portion of the land.

2) In Egypt, the people are removed city by city. In Israel, the Levi'im and Kohan'im are given a total of 48 cities.

3) In Egypt, the priests receive their portion from Pharaoh. In Israel, the priestly class receive their portion from the people.

4) In Egypt, it is the people who are servants to Pharaoh. In Israel, it is the priestly class that are servants to Hashem.

5) In Egypt, the people are required to "tithe" 20% to Pharaoh. In Israel, the people are required to tithe 10% to the priestly class.

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