Fat of the land
In English we say “the cream of the crop”. In Hebrew they would say “the fat of the land” (Genesis 44:18). Not that the ground is particularly oily (they’d also talk about “the fat of the wheat”; Psalm 81:16). The fat is the best portion.
And this is what Pharaoh offers to Joseph’s brothers:
“Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Say unto thy brethren, This do ye; lade your beasts, and go, get you unto the land of Canaan; And take your father and your households, and come unto me: and I will give you the good of the land of Egypt, and ye shall eat the fat of the land.” (Genesis 45:17-18)
This is a conversation between the arch-ruler, Pharaoh, and his right-hand-man Joseph. Earlier, Pharaoh had said to Joseph:
“I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:41)
Joseph rules the whole land under Pharaoh. And through Joseph’s wisdom, the land is first made prosperous (Genesis 41) and then redeemed – bought back – into the possession of Pharaoh. (Genesis 47).
Now the famished and guilty brothers of Joseph are given a life-line. Much more than a life-line. They come in on his inheritance.
What right do these foreigners have to the fat of the land? None. Except that their brother has made the whole land fat.
What right do these brothers have to share in Joseph’s wealth? None. By rights Joseph should have sold them into slavery the way they’d sold him. Yet he receives his brothers to himself. And they enter into the inheritance of Egypt’s lord. (Genesis 45:8)
Thousands of years later Jesus stood on a mountain proclaiming:
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5)
He doesn’t say ‘they shall inherit eternal life’, though that would be true. He says they will inherit the earth. This future hope is not celestial but very much grounded. In fact it is cosmic. The whole earth.
Who could possibly possess the earth? Surely only the bold. Only the go-getters. Only those who take life by the scruff of the neck. But no Jesus says it’s the meek.
How is this so?
Well we are like Joseph’s brothers. We are desperately guilty, desperately needy and should, by rights, be shut out of the inheritance. But King Jesus is Lord of this world. It’s all coming to Him. And all those who come to Him meekly, He receives as family into the fat of the land.