Genesis 41:56 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 41:56, NIV: When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.

Genesis 41:56, ESV: So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:56, KJV: And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:56, NASB: When the famine was spread over the entire face of the earth, then Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians; and the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:56, NLT: So with severe famine everywhere, Joseph opened up the storehouses and distributed grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt.

Genesis 41:56, CSB: Now the famine had spread across the whole region, so Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt.

What does Genesis 41:56 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Prior to the beginning of a famine, Egypt has experienced seven years of amazing prosperity (Genesis 41:47). That would have given them some short-term resistance to disaster or hardship. And yet, this famine was severe (Genesis 41:28–32). Soon, the lack of production in the land caught up to the people of Egypt. Their own stores became depleted, and they came to their king, known as the Pharaoh, for help. Pharaoh sent them to Joseph (Genesis 41:54–56), and Joseph exercises his authority to open the storehouses from the previous seven years of abundance.

It's noteworthy that Joseph took this grain through some form of tax (Genesis 41:33–36), then sold the stored grain to the people of Egypt. This was grain taken from the fields surrounding each of the towns, but it was not returned without a cost. The government of Egypt covered its expenses for gathering and storing the grain and may have increased the Pharaoh's revenues, as well (Genesis 47:13–26). Still, crucially, the Egyptians did not starve during this season of severe famine, thanks to Joseph and his God's revelation.