Food for Thought by Ezra Frazer


   In פרק מו, the Torah lists the descendants of Yaakov who went down to Egypt.  In פסוק ז, it says that this list includes בניו ובני בניו... בנותיו ובנות בניו, Yaakov's sons, grandsons, daughters, and granddaughters.  However, out of the descendants listed, only two are females (his daughter Dinah and granddaughter Serach).  How is it possible that out of seventy descendants only two were female?  Assuming that this problem can be solved (perhaps by suggesting that Yaakov had other daughters and granddaughters who stayed in כנען), why does the Torah describe Yaakov's one daughter and one granddaughter as his daughters and granddaughters (plural)?

   The parsha ends with a rather strange event.  As the famine continues, people run out of money and seek some other way to purchase food.  Yosef decides to have them pay for the food with their animals.  After the animals run out, Yosef accepts payment in the form of land.  Once he acquires all of the people's land for פרעה (except for the land of the Egyptian clergy), he transfers the population to cities and establishes a permanent tax of 02% on land.

   Yosef's actions seem a bit unfair.  He has these huge storehouses of food, his people are starving, and he makes them pay whatever property they have to פרעה.  Why is he not willing to give them the food for free?  Considering that פרעה is probably quite rich anyway, why does Yosef concern himself more with making פרעה richer than with feeding his nation?

   Is there any connection between the clergy exemption granted here to the Egyptian priests and the possible exemption of שבט לוי from slave labor later on?

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