Read Genesis 47
Focus on verse 25-26
Taxation is hardly a new idea… leaders and governments of every stripe and color throughout recorded history have contrived ways to levy taxes from the people over whom they rule. It is perhaps, not surprising that in most cases the people agree to pay the tax since the alternatives to paying the tax are typically less desirable…aka – starvation, prison, execution, that sort of thing.
In today’s reading we find that Joseph had the people of Egypt over a barrel… they had used up all their savings, they had given him all their livestock and all their land, all that remained was for them to sell themselves to Pharaoh in exchange for food and surprisingly they not only agreed – they suggested the idea! – and as with most government policy, it became a permanent arrangement.
So here we have one of the first tax levies recorded in the Bible and it’s a hefty twenty percent per year. And check this out…there was a clergy exemption! The priests were on a stipend from pharaoh so did not have to sell their land to Pharaoh. As a result they were exempt from the tax.
Only the land of the priests he did not buy, for the priests had a fixed allowance from Pharaoh and lived on the allowance that Pharaoh gave them; therefore they did not sell their land.(v. 22)
Funny how it always seems that the ones most capable of paying a tax tend to find a way to not have to…but that would be a bunny trail from which this post would likely not recover, so back to the main point.
The main point of Joseph’s tax was that it did served to save the lives of many people who really had no other option, had it not been for Joseph and his wisdom in storing up food in the seven years of plenty I the first place, many more would have starved in the seven years years of famine that followed.