Genesis 47:25

ESV And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.”
NIV You have saved our lives,' they said. 'May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.'
NASB So they said, 'You have saved our lives! Let us find favor in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s slaves.'
CSB "You have saved our lives," they said. "We have found favor with our lord and will be Pharaoh's slaves."
NLT You have saved our lives!' they exclaimed. 'May it please you, my lord, to let us be Pharaoh’s servants.'
KJV And they said, Thou hast saved our lives: let us find grace in the sight of my lord, and we will be Pharaoh's servants.

What does Genesis 47:25 mean?

As the right-hand man of Egypt's ruler, Joseph has traded food to the desperate citizens in exchange for everything they own and even their freedom (Genesis 47:13–22). In the previous verses, he announced the terms of this exchange. The people would receive food and seed for planting. Pharaoh would own their land and their lives. In effect, they were now a nation of servants to the Pharaoh. To continue to live, they must pay 20 percent of each year's harvest to Pharaoh from this point forward.

This type of servanthood is most accurately labeled "indentured servitude." This is not the "slavery" often associated with more modern times. In a world without stability, banking, or social welfare, people often traded service as a way of paying off debt or earning food and shelter. "Selling" oneself or family into this kind of servanthood was a normal, common practice in a world almost entirely made up of either "servants" or "masters." In practice, many of the conditions depicted here resemble modern concepts such as mortgage, rent, or income tax—albeit permanent ones (Genesis 47:26). The servanthood of the people of Egypt, as arranged by Joseph, is extremely different from the harsh slavery imposed on the Israelites by other Pharaohs over the coming centuries (Exodus 1:8–13).

That context helps a modern reader understand why the people seem grateful, instead of resentful. They give him credit for saving their lives in the famine and acknowledge their free choice to become servants to Pharaoh.
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