What does Genesis 47:17 mean?
ESV: So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the herds, and the donkeys. He supplied them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.
NIV: So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.
NASB: So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them food in exchange for the horses and the flocks and the herds and the donkeys; and he fed them with food in exchange for all their livestock that year.
CSB: So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for the horses, the flocks of sheep, the herds of cattle, and the donkeys. That year he provided them with food in exchange for all their livestock.
NLT: So they brought their livestock to Joseph in exchange for food. In exchange for their horses, flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and donkeys, Joseph provided them with food for another year.
KJV: And they brought their cattle unto Joseph: and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for the flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses: and he fed them with bread for all their cattle for that year.
NKJV: So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for the horses, the flocks, the cattle of the herds, and for the donkeys. Thus he fed them with bread in exchange for all their livestock that year.
Verse Commentary:
The land of Egypt and nearby Canaan is barren. It has been barren for several years, and the famine will last for several more. Earlier verses described the land using terms related to fainting and insanity (Genesis 47:13). Joseph, as Pharaoh's representative in Egypt, holds great stores of grain. These were built up through taxes (Genesis 41:33–36), then sold back to the people for cash (Genesis 41:55–57).

Just two years into the seven-year disaster (Genesis 45:6), the people of the region have no more money to buy grain. They are still in danger of starvation. Joseph has suggested an alternative: trade livestock for food. It's not clear whether Joseph meant to literally hand over animals, physically, or simply consign their ownership to Pharaoh. This might have been a kind of mortgage or other arrangement.

Regardless of such details, the people comply. They don't have much choice since the alternative is starvation. So, the Egyptians and the Canaanites bring their horses, sheep, cows, and donkeys to Joseph. In whatever sense Joseph arranged, the ruler of Egypt now owned almost all the herded animals in Egypt and the surrounding region.
Verse Context:
Genesis 47:13–26 describes how Joseph's plan for the famine made Egypt's king even more powerful and wealthy. In essence, Joseph sells grain taxed from the people back to them. When the people run out of money to pay for food from the storehouses, Joseph trades for their livestock, land, and even their freedom. Pharaoh comes to own nearly everything and everyone in Egypt, resulting in a standing 20 percent income tax on the people.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 47 begins with Pharaoh interviewing Joseph's brothers and father before granting their request to settle in the region of Goshen in Egypt. Just as Joseph had hoped, his family is secure. The rest of the people of Egypt and Canaan are not. Most run out of money and can no longer buy food from Joseph. On Pharaoh's behalf, Joseph trades food for their livestock and then their land and even their freedom. Nearly all people will be required to pay to Pharaoh 20 percent of their harvest each year from this time forward. After several years, Jacob asks Joseph to swear that he will bury Jacob's body with his fathers in Canaan.
Chapter Context:
After describing the family's journey from Canaan and their arrival in Egypt in chapter 46, this passage opens on a formal conversation between Pharaoh and Joseph's family. He officially grants their request to settle in Egypt. As the famine continues, citizens of Egypt and Canaan turn over their money, land, and livestock to Joseph in exchange for food. The final three chapters of Genesis explain Jacob's dying blessings, and the passing of both Jacob and Joseph.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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