Famine in the Land

One of my students, Susanna Winecoff, pointed to the parallels between the famine that drove Israel into Egypt and the famine in Jerusalem mentioned at the end of Acts 11. For support, one can point to the parallel of Genesis and Acts: “Famine was over all the face of the earth ” (Genesis 41:46); “a great famine all over the world ” (Acts 11:28).

In both cases, the people of God in Canaan/Judea suffer from famine; in both cases their need is filled by bread from the Gentiles. The Gentile churches who send famine relief to Judea are the Egyptians who welcome Israel into the land of Goshen and give them food. Paul, the organizer of the famine relief, is Joseph, serving bread to the world, and especially to the Jews. It’s rather surprising: Israel’s sojourn in Egypt becomes the paradigm of Jew-Gentile relations, Gentiles supplying the material needs of the Jews.

As the narrative continues in Acts, Peter goes through a death (imprisonment) and resurrection (miraculous release, accompanied by an angel) “in the days of Unleavened bread” (12:3). So the exodus story seems to be continuing on from Acts 11 into Acts 12.

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