50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e]and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”
56 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. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph,because the famine was severe everywhere.
“Modeling studies have shown that artificial injection of sulfur into the stratosphere could lead to droughts, but we wanted to see if the risks were also apparent in a proxy dataset,” Gao says. Long-term proxies for precipitation can be hard to come by in many regions of the world, but northern China has a long history of droughts and famine, documented in detailed historical records.
By combining the written records with hydrologic tree ring data and overlapping the precipitation records with ice-core records documenting volcanic eruptions, Gao and colleagues identified several eruptions, followed by episodes of drought, for the time period between 1368 and 1911.
Climate cycles are notoriously difficult to model so it’s important to also conduct studies based on historical records, says Alan Robock, an atmospheric scientist at Rutgers University who was not involved in the new research. “Not many of these types of proxy-based studies have been done simply because there are few places in the world with long precipitation records,” he says.
Gao and colleagues found that large volcanic eruptions in the Northern Hemisphere often preceded strong droughts in China. The droughts typically began in the north in the second or third summer following an eruption and slowly moved southward over the next two to three years. The researchers also found that the severity of the drought depended on the size of the eruption and the amount of aerosol injected into the atmosphere, and that it took four to five years after an eruption for precipitation rates to recover. The drought pattern agrees with observations from three large modern eruptions, including that of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, Gao says.
The pattern represents a cautionary tale for geoengineering projects seeking to replicate the cooling effects of large volcanic eruptions, Robock says. “Historic volcanic eruptions show us that cooling effects in one place are often countered by negative effects elsewhere,” he says. “Geoengineering projects come with a long list of risks, and number one is the risk of regional droughts.”
Gen. 47:3-4Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”
“Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” 4 They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”
Gen. 47:13-27 Joseph and the Famine
13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”
16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 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.
18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”
20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude,[c] from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.
23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”
25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”
26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.
27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.
So Joseph was cunning, and gave people bread for money, livestock and their own work. What about those who starved, but had no money, nor any cows or sheep. Suppose they had to give themselves to slavery at once. The capitalists will congratulate Joseph if they ever read this!