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Daily Devotion for November 6, 2012
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Father in heaven, creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon me and receive my heartfelt gratitude for all that you have done for me and for those I love. Thank you for all the graces and blessings you have bestowed upon us, spiritual and temporal: Our faith and religious heritage; our food and shelter; our health; the love we have for one another; and the lives of our Lord and friends. Dear Father, in your infinite generosity, please grant me and my loved ones continued grace and blessings during the coming day. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, your only son, who has saved us from death.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
“When one door closes, another opens, but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one that has opened for us.”
~ Alexander Graham Bell
Genesis 47:23-31 (ESV)
Joseph and the Famine 
Then Joseph said to the people, “Behold, I have this day bought you and your land for Pharaoh. Now here is seed for you, and you shall sow the land. And at the harvests you shall give a fifth to Pharaoh, and four fifths shall be your own, as seed for the field and as food for yourselves and your households, and as food for your little ones.”
And they said, “You have saved our lives; may it please my lord, we will be servants to Pharaoh.” So Joseph made it a statute concerning the land of Egypt, and it stands to this day, that Pharaoh should have the fifth; the land of the priests alone did not become Pharaoh's.
Thus Israel settled in the land of Egypt, in the land of Goshen. And they gained possessions in it, and were fruitful and multiplied greatly. And Jacob lived in the land of Egypt seventeen years. So the days of Jacob, the years of his life, were 147 years.
And when the time drew near that Israel must die,
Notes on the Scripture
Joseph finalizes his creation of a more modern monarchy here, very similar to the monarchies that would dominate the world for millenia to come. Title to the land rested ultimately with the pharaoh, and he received a tax of 20% of the gross proceeds. Because Egypt was so fertile and well-settled in the Bronze Age, and because the tax to the monarch was so high — the tsars of Russia, for instance, would get only one part in thirteen — this would make the pharaoh one of the richest and most powerful people in the world.
It might seem eccentric that Jacob tells Joseph to put his "hand under my thigh" in order to swear an oath. But remember, Abraham made the same demand, when he sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac: "And Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had, 'Put your hand under my thigh, that I may make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and God of the earth." (Genesis 24:1-3)
The actual meaning of the expression "under my thigh" may be a little much for tender sensibilities: the word in Hebrew means "genitals". Circumcision was the sign of the compact between Abraham and God, and Jacob is asking Joseph to swear his oath upon the sign of their covenant with God! It was the equivalent of putting one's hand on the Bible in a courtroom. But this was just "too much information" when the Bible was first translated into English, and so almost every Christian Bible uses the more delicate phrase.
Jacob was the last single patriarch of the Hebrews and the ancestor of every Jew who has lived since. His very name — "Israel" — has come to be the name of the Jewish nation. It is no wonder that he wants to be buried in the land given to him by God, the land of his fathers before him and the generations to follow. He has accepted that his sons must live in Egypt; but, clearly, he foresees that this will be a temporary measure. And history has proven him out. No matter how many times over the last 3500 years the Jews have been dispersed, they have always returned to claim Canaan as their right, by the very word of God.