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B'resheet/Genesis 41:53 And the seven years of abundance were completed
Amazingly, none of the major commentators make any reference to this text at all. It is perhaps seen only as the half-way point in the playing out of the prophetic dream that G-d gave to Pharaoh and Yosef interpreted for him: seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine. Nahum Sarna merely comments on the prevalence of seven year famines in ancient Egyptian and other Middle Eastern texts, including a reference in the Mesopotamian Gilgamesh Epic (JPS B'resheet/Genesis, p.290).
This obscures the significance that the text relates. The noun , literally "the abundance", is derived from the root , which means "to be or become satiated, satisfied, filled" and so has the sense of full satisfaction. These were not just seven years of enough; they were seven years of plenty, of abundance; they were seven years when G-d poured out His blessing, both in the rainfall producing the annual Nile flooding into the fields and the irrigation reservoirs, and in the fertility and productiveness of the fields themselves. At the same time, the verb , most often translated simply "ended" comes from the root , which means "to be completed, finished, ended". It was not just that the time period of seven years had elapsed since G-d has spoken through Yosef and the dream; seven full years of G-d's blessing had been completed - there was neither day nor bushel of grain missing form what G-d had said would happen; the years and the harvests were brought to their full completion.
G-d's consistency with His word and His faithfulness in fulfilling His promises is reinforced time and again in the biblical narratives. At the end of Joshua's life, he gathers the people of Israel, their elders, judges and officers and reminds them of the way in which G-d has fulfilled the promises to bring them into the Land and clear it before them. "Now behold, today I am going the way of all the earth, and you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one word of all the good words which the L-rd your G-d spoke concerning you has failed; all have been fulfilled for you, not one of them has failed" (Joshua 23:14, NASB). In all the years that Joshua had been leading Israel, and in the years before that when he had been Moshe's assistant, G-d always kept His word. Several hundred years later, as King Solomon is dedicating the Temple, we find him using very similar words: "Blessed be the L-rd, who has given rest to His people, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moshe His servant" (1 Kings 8:56, NASB). During those intervening years, although there had been many ups and downs through the time of the judges until the kingdom was united under David, G-d's promises - of both blessing and discipline - had been faithfully kept by G-d, and His people were the living witness of that as they stood with Solomon before the Temple.
In the years that followed, some of them dark years with much trouble and strife, G-d spoke again lest any should think either that the promises were all fulfilled so that there was nothing left to do, or that G-d had somehow changed His mind about the whole thing: "For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth, and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so shall My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:10-11, NASB). G-d promises continuity in His word being fulfilled: as the cycle of nature continues year by year, so G-d's word and promises will continue to be fulfilled.
Further Study: Psalm 34:8-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
Application: If you find yourself questioning whether G-d can still be trusted, whether He has forgotten you, or whether He can still reach into your life and circumstances, take heart from the seven fully completed years. Just as G-d did exactly what He said in the days of Yosef and Pharaoh, He has demonstrated over and over again that He can and will do today!
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
17Dec06 13:36 Jonathan S: Powerful! His promises still prevail.
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