During the famine Yosef collected all the money in both Egypt and Canaan. In the following year Yosef acquired ownership of all the land in Egypt (except the priests') for Paro, but it says nothing about land beyond Egypt. If those in Canaan had already spent all their money and the famine continued for several more years, what did they do? Did they all leave (or die)? Did they find some other way to eat and, if so, what was it?

Rashi on v19 says:

and give [us] seed-: [with which] to sow the soil. Although Joseph said,“and [for] another five years there will be neither plowing nor harvest” (Gen. 45:6), as soon as Jacob came to Egypt, blessing came with his arrival, and they started to sow, and the famine ended. So we learned in the Tosefta of Sotah (10:1-3).

But that doesn't seem like it helps Canaan -- Yaakov left there, after all, so if the blessing is location-dependent things would have gotten even worse in Canaan. And even if Yaakov's arrival ended the famine everywhere, it apparently wasn't immediate because the people sold their land after his arrival -- so Canaan is presumably still affected too.

  • even before yaakov left canaan people were going down to egypt to buy food. It stands to reason they would have continued doing so until their food started growing again.
    – Menachem
    Dec 23 '12 at 23:37
  • Right, they were buying food, but then Yosef had collected all the money in Canaan. So what did they pay with? Dec 24 '12 at 2:35
  • See the Ramban 47:18 - hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9597&pgnum=608 , who says a couple interesting things. 1) The famine only stopped in the land of Egypt, not Canaan. If it would stop everywhere, people would doubt Yosef's interpretation of the dream. people saw that it stopped in Egypt due to Yaakov, but continued everywhere else. (It also continued in Egypt after Yaakov passed away) 2) The Rambam also explains that the money lasted 5 years, and the last two years they sold their cattle to pay for grain.
    – Menachem
    Dec 24 '12 at 3:33

A couple of Mefarshim address this question (link here):

Radak suggests that the Kena'anim went elsewhere (and presumably paid with their belongings, as they had no money left).

Netziv suggests that there were some edible crops growing in Kena'an, and that although they were really only fit for animal consumption, they began to eat them when they had no money left.

  • 1
    Netsiv explains why Pharo didn't seem to own any land in Cnaan great answer
    – user15464
    Dec 16 '18 at 20:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .