The simple reading of the Torah text implies that, through Joseph's leadership, in exchange for the grain, Egypt/Pharoah came to own all the land all over the world and the people were indentured to him (except the Jews). Therefore, was our eventual enslavement somehow connected as a backlash to this situation? During the 7 years of famine, Bnei Israel were free when the rest of the population was indentured. Then the situation flipped when a new Pharaoh came to power. We became enslaved and the Egyptians were free. I'm not exactly sure what my question is, I'm just bothered by the implication that indirectly through Joseph's leadership in saving the world from hunger, Egyptians lost their land and their freedom. Might this have sown resentment toward Bnei Israel, laying the seeds of our eventual slavery in Egypt?

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    shoshcet, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! Could you please edit in what prompts you to wonder whether this chain of assertions is true? Where did you hear this? Adding this information in would make the question a great deal more compelling and more likely to get great answers. I look forward to seeing you around.
    – Isaac Moses
    Jan 10, 2017 at 16:28
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    Thank you for your response. I attempted to edit my question/comment, though probably not satisfactorily. I'm excited to be a part of your amazing community of Torah learners.
    – user13950
    Jan 12, 2017 at 4:46
  • the Torah text implies that, through Joseph's leadership, in exchange for the grain, Egypt/Pharoah came to own all the land all over the world How does the Torah imply this? Please clarify.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 14, 2017 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


You are mistaken in your first sentence. It was the Egyptian people who had become serfs to Par'o and had to sell their land, their goods, and themselves to Par'o.

Vayigash 47:15

Now the money was depleted from the land of Egypt and from the land of Canaan, and all the Egyptians came to Joseph, saying, "Give us food; why should we die in your presence, since the money has been used up?"

It was not backlash because of this, but the politics of the "upper class" that resented the Bnai Yisrael. That is why Par'o had to act slyly to get everyone to resent the Bnai Yisrael as "foreigners" and use the standard tropes found in anti-semitism to get the populace stirred up against them. It is what the left are doing now to try to destroy Israel and the Jews, as with the BDS movement.

There are meforshim who say that מלך חדש means that there was a coup (or an invasion) that took over the country. In order to make sure that there was no revolt, the new king divided the country into different groups. Since Bnai Yisrael were unified, he needed to make them powerless. He also used them as the scapegoats and turn everyone else against them (as is being done by the left nowadays).

for example Shmos 1:8

A new king arose over Egypt, who did not know about Joseph.


A new king arose: [There is a controversy between] Rav and Samuel. One says: He was really new, and the other one says: His decrees were new. [From Sotah 11a, Exod. Rabbah 1:8] Since the Torah does not say: The king of Egypt died, and a new king arose, it implies that the old king was still alive, only that his policies had changed, and he acted like a new king. [Rashi on Sotah 11a]

Rav Hirsch says

The first causes of the oldest רשעות, anti-semitism, can unfortunately not be definitely established from these first sentences. ויקם מלך חדש by no means designates an ordinary lawful change of dynasty. קום על is always an overthrow by force. So it seems that the old dynasty was overthrown and Egypt fell under the invading power of an invading dynasty. from outside, hence also אשר לא ידע את יוסף, to a fresh native dynasty Joseph would not be unknown. It is quite characteristic that the motive given for the whole subsequent enmity against the Jews is that the new King did not know Joseph. The people did know of him and did notlook askance at the Jewish people growing in it. They considered the jews as benefactors and not as intruders and did not feel their own security threatened by their growth.

As Rav Hirsch says about verse 9

Jew hatred was a political measure which the new dynasty used to strengthen their own position of force and violence


Whenever a tyrant wished to oppress a people, he liked to give them a lower class whom they could oppress and thus be indemnified for his own oppression.

  • so why do you think the "upper class" at the time resented Bnai Yisrael?
    – user13950
    Jan 12, 2017 at 4:48
  • @shoshcet That is standard in any court under an autocratic monarch. The courtiers resent anyone new who will "usurp" their position and do their best to bring down his family. This is especially so since Par'o had expressed interest in them and wanted to put them into positions of authority. Also see the meforshim about Bnai Yisrael showing up in the theaters and other areas that the nobility frequented. It is like the "Jewish quotas" of the universities. Jan 12, 2017 at 17:02

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