When my kids were small, their school had a very large immigrant intake, so my son was actually the only indigenous boy in his class. They got on fine generally with the other kids as kids generally do; suffered a bit of racism, but nothing they couldn’t handle. I got upset about it though, when I felt their education was suffering. There was plenty on offer to help the immigrant kids learn English; but when I asked for a new reading book for my child, when he knew it off by heart, I was refused because the teacher did not want him to get too far beyond the other kids! We decided to move the kids to another school, where there were about equal numbers of immigrant and indigenous kids – not because we had any racist issues, but because we didn’t want our kids getting a low quality education. I can understand, though, when indigenous folk feel they are getting a poor deal compared to the new-comers. A lot of bad feeling can be generated by unwise policies, made by people who live miles away from the problems!
As I read the passage of Genesis 47:14-27, I began to feel quite sorry for the Egyptians. They lost everything. Admittedly, Joseph found a way to keep them alive, but they were bound in a sort of slavery, having to pay back from their own land for ever after. And meanwhile, the newcomers were doing very nicely, thank you! The property they acquired was not mortgaged for perpetuity, and they were growing rapidly in numbers, and generally taking over the place. The indigenous Egyptians must have felt very threatened. The seeds of the Israelite slavery were surely germinated right there.
Really, Joseph should have known the disaster that can arise from one person, or one group of people being favoured above the others. It had been the cause of his own enslavement when his brothers had been provoked to so much jealousy of his status with his father, and ironically, his policies here would ultimately lead to the enslavement of his own people.
God is so wise. He gets it right every time. Amazing how he does it! For even though he treats us absolutely fairly, he makes me feel like I’m special. How does he manage to make each one of us feel so uniquely and specially loved, yet all equal? And is that just a ‘God’ thing, or can we make others feel that special and cared-for too? I think the folk who have come nearest, are those with that wonderful gift of focusing totally on you when they are speaking to you, like no-one else matters. I think it’s about valuing the person right in front of you, whether they have a tooth missing, or a spot on their nose, or some very strange ideas, or a chaotic life. I can’t solve the problems of unfair society, but maybe I can make someone feel like at least I care.