Acts 7:11 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 7:11, NIV: Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food.

Acts 7:11, ESV: Now there came a famine throughout all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction, and our fathers could find no food.

Acts 7:11, KJV: Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Chanaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance.

Acts 7:11, NASB: 'Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food.

Acts 7:11, NLT: 'But a famine came upon Egypt and Canaan. There was great misery, and our ancestors ran out of food.

Acts 7:11, CSB: Now a famine and great suffering came over all of Egypt and Canaan, and our ancestors could find no food.

What does Acts 7:11 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

The account of the Jewish "fathers," meaning the patriarchs of the tribes, as they escaped to Egypt during a famine shows that God does not need His people to gather in a temple to recognize them. Jacob's older sons had sold their younger brother Joseph to slave traders. In the ensuing years, God arranged for Joseph to spend time in slavery and prison, predict a famine, rise to be second in command of all Egypt, and prepare for the famine. Despite being away from the land God had promised Abraham, God was with Joseph.

Back in Canaan, Joseph's family had sensed no warning of the famine, and the people and livestock were in threat of starvation (Genesis 41:37–57). Jacob hears there is grain for sale in Egypt (Genesis 42:1–2). He has no idea that his lost son has control of it. He doesn't even know Joseph is still alive.

Stephen's recounting of Joseph's story also helps demonstrate to his audience that despite their claimed reverence of Moses, the Israelites have a long history of rejecting God's prophets. In this, Joseph parallels Jesus' identification as the stone the builders rejected that became the cornerstone (Matthew 21:42). Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery, but God used him as the foundation for survival for nations caught in famine. The Sanhedrin, to whom Stephen is speaking, killed Jesus, but His sacrifice is the foundation for their salvation, if they will only believe.