When Money Failed
lthough the global monetary order seen in modern times is infinitely more complex than the ancient agricultural economy found in the Egypt of the Pharaohs, I've learned the Bible always provides the best "lamp to my feet," in terms of worldly concerns. Thus, in the midst of what is obviously the beginning of a complete financial meltdown of the existing economic system, I turn to the Word of God for knowledge, guidance, and direction.
The first thing we see in the only example in Scripture which tells us the money actually "failed," is how the events were triggered by a significant shortage of food. As Egyptologists theorize the famine was weather related, and recent excessive rains and drought conditions have now generated serious shortfalls in global food output, we already see numerous parallels.
What is more intriguing is how the Scriptures tell us it was the prophetic knowledge of what was to come which proved to be the decisive factor in surviving the wholesale disruption of the food supply. In the very beginning, only one person knew what would occur, and that man was Joseph -- a son of the man known as Israel.
Most know the story of how the Pharaoh had a disturbing dream which Joseph interpreted as precognitive, and when the Egyptian king became convinced Joseph truly understood there was indeed a huge famine on the horizon, he commissioned the Israelite to take charge of preparations. After Joseph had prepared for many years for the great food shortage to come, when it arrived, they opened up the storehouses of grain which had been accumulated:
"And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians..." (Genesis 41:55)
It's obvious that supply and demand are always factors in any economy and, although there is no indication a desire for wealth was a factor in Pharaoh's provisioning, the nation of Egypt would have become enormously wealthy through the events which transpired. The text also says
"...the famine was over all the face of the earth....and all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn..." (Genesis 41:56,57)
Because the commerce described was international in scope, it's a safe bet the media of exchange was related to precious metals, or other commodities widely recognized to be of value. For example, in genesis, we encounter
"...a company of Ishmaelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry it down to Egypt" (Genesis 37:25)
We see that, shortly after the Exodus account, the LORD includes precious stones in the accouterments of the priesthood. In addition to plenty of gold and silver, there we find Sardius, Topaz, Emeralds, Sapphires, Diamonds, and more (Exodus 28:17). Later, when the wise men came to the Christ child to pay him honour,
"...they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him; and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh" (Matthew 2:11)
As the Egyptian famine ensued, and became progressively worse (an obvious allegory of the tribulational cycle becoming increasingly severe), the text tells us the people confessed to Joseph that, although they had previously purchased grain, their crops had failed anyway.
Thus, the following season, the people came back to Joseph for grain ("corn" in the KJV). However, the famine had grown so severe that commerce had come to a grinding halt, as the effort to find food consumed every endeavor.
"And there was no bread in all the land; for the famine was very sore, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan fainted by reason of the famine" (Genesis 47:13)
At this point in time, we find the central government of the Pharaoh had absorbed all the funds throughout the land, and free enterprise and commerce, such as that seen with the caravans of traders (the Ishmaelites mentioned earlier as a prime example), had come to a complete halt.
Because the only commodity which was valued at that point was the food itself, the grain itself had become the only media of exchange that had any value -- so the crisis driven system of economics caused the entire order of money and commercial exchange to completely collapse.
"And when money failed in the land of Egypt, and in the land of Canaan, all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, Give us bread: for why should we die in thy presence? for the money faileth" (Genesis 47:15)
An informative and insightful look at Joseph, and the political changes that occurred during his tenure in Egypt, are studied in audio form. For more, listen to the short online audio clip found at ENTRANCE INTO EGYPT: The Story Of Joseph.
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