What does Genesis 47:19 mean?Before the famine began, Joseph stockpiled grain using taxes (Genesis 41:33–36). He then sold the reserves to people in Egypt and Canaan when the land stopped producing (Genesis 41:55–57). Over time, the people of the region gave all their money to Egypt's ruler in exchange for food. They then traded or mortgaged their animals (Genesis 47:13–17). As the famine persisted, the people had nothing left to offer other than their lands and their own lives.
The people's growing desperation is seen in their pleas. At first, they asked Pharaoh what to do, and he referred them to Joseph, who arranged for sale of grain (Genesis 41:55). Then, they came directly to Joseph to beg for food (Genesis 47:15) and agreed to his terms. Now, they seem to come to Joseph with an immediate offer: their lands and servitude in exchange for food.
The people's remark about the land dying is key to understanding how serious the situation had become. Unless the people can continue to receive grain from Joseph, they will not be able to cultivate anything from the land. Clearly, there is already so little that it cannot sustain the people (Genesis 47:13). If the people die, or leave, the land itself would revert entirely to wilderness. This time, Joseph did not have to suggest any bargains. The people came with the idea themselves, literally offering themselves and their land in exchange for grain and seed to plant on the land to keep it from becoming completely desolate.
If Joseph accepts this proposal, Pharaoh will become the owner of all the money, livestock, land, and people in the region.