Yosef reveals to Pharoah that there will be 7 years of surplus grain followed by 7 years of famine. Yosef gathers a huge quantity of grain from all over the land and stores it.

Didn't the Egyptians do proportionately likewise? Or was the entire future kept a secret from them, and they had no clue what would occur?

If they did store grain, what happened? Why did they have to rely on just Yosef?

  • There's also the question of why they had to pay for the food. After all, they had already been taxed for the explicit purpose of gathering food for the famine. Why did they have to pay twice? – Daniel Kagan Jan 16 at 14:12

Rashi on verse מקץ מ"א נ"ה) ותרעב כל ארץ מצרים) says (based on Midrash Tanchuma) that the Egyptians did store food, but their food all rotted, and only Yosef's food remained. The Egyptians were therefore forced to buy all their grain from Yosef.

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The Egyptians always stored grain, but not for humans. Those grains were for the gods only and they never shared it, not even in times of famine. Interestingly, if you compare them to the Incas, the Incas always shared their foods to the commoner, especially during a famine.

Similarly, Yosef also shared food. But since the Egyptians "gods" were greedy, it was only up to Yosef to store and share the grain to the Egyptian people (and his brothers) in times of famine.

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  • This is clearly untrue. The Egyptians sold food to Abraham before Yosef was even born. – Daniel Kagan Jan 16 at 14:10
  • Aside from the biblical evidence @DanielKagan referred to, it's untrue that the stored grain was "for the gods only." See Mary Anne Murray, "Cereal Production and Processing," in Ancient Egyptian Materials and Technology (books.google.com/books?id=Vj7A9jJrZP0C), p. 528: "for the most part, the state and temple system of grain storage was sufficient to feed the population [my emphasis] during lean years." – Meir Jan 16 at 18:10

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