Sedra VaYiGush, Yosef the Despot?

the land was exhausted due to the famine [47:13]

Yosef collected all the money in Egypt and surrounding countries [47:14] as payment for food [Rashi]

there was no money left and the people were desperate for food [47:15]

so Yosef demanded they pay with their cattle [47:16]

they said, “we have no money, we have no beasts; we have only our lives and our land” [47:18]

“take possession of us and our land in order that we live” [47:19]

Yosef took ownership of all Egypt’s land in Paroh’s name [47:20]

Yosef [owned the people and he] relocated the entire population from their homes and suburbs to distant locations [47:21]

Yosef wanted to ensure that in later years, the people would not be able to make any claims about being the original owners. [Rashi 47:21]

The Torah records this information in order to praise Yosef – who was motivated to protect his brothers from being labelled as refugees and foreigners by the locals who were now themselves landless and unsecured. [Rashi 47:21]

Was this the action of a despot or the greatest programme in education? For what better teaches than the experience of poverty and vulnerability?

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