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.
The Egyptians lost everything but their lives in the famine. The government collected their grain during the good years, at Joseph’s direction, and sold it back to them for all their money, their land, their liberty, and made the one fifth tax permanent. It’s better than dying of hunger, but one day the Egyptians would remember this differently. And the Hebrews got the best of the available land.
It would be 400 years before this all played itself out, but God knew it all in advance. Likewise, our present sufferings are of no account compared to the future we have in Christ.