Answers from Genesis: Reclaiming the Biblical Authority of Joseph’s Global Famine

The year was 1700 BC. Severe climate change had been engulfing the entire Earth for several years. People from every corner of the globe were traveling to Egypt to buy grain which Joseph has stored up as a result of a vision that God had given to Pharaoh nearly a decade before. During this time no field was plowed nor was any field harvested for the rain had been held back in order that Joseph—an archetype of Christ—might provide salvation to all the people of the Earth. In particular, Jacob—now called Israel—would find temporary refuge in Egypt through God’s provision of Jacob’s son Joseph.

Today, a literal seven-day creation, the Garden of Eden and Noah’s Flood get all the attention when it comes to globally transformative events in the Earth’s history. Sadly, Joseph’s Global Famine, recorded for us in Genesis 41, has long been overlooked—or even dismissed—by many Biblical scholars and scientists. Because of his miraculous ability to interpret the dreams of the Pharaoh, Joseph was able to put into action a plan that saved countless thousands from starvation. However, while Noah saved the entire human race from extinction during a planet-wide flood, the famine of Joseph has been relegated to a mere, local event. But surely, since each verse of the Bible is inerrant in every detail—including all aspects related to biology, geology and meteorology—the plain meaning of the account of Joseph’s saving the entire world from starvation needs to be properly told and vigorously defended. To deny this eyewitness testimony of a global catastrophe is tantamount to denying the global flood and will inextricably lead to the denial of the resurrection of Christ. To suggest that the scope of the famine was other than planet-wide is to compromise the authority of scripture.

Joseph’s Global Famine: Biblical authority is at stake

The Bible is clear: a catastrophe of global proportion occurred around 3700 years ago. This global catastrophe recorded in Genesis 41 was neither by flood as in Noah’s day nor by fire which is reserved for the final destruction of the Earth (II Peter 3:10) but instead resulted from rain being withheld. That rain would normally have flooded the Nile, bringing life-sustaining nutrients into the farmlands of Egypt. That rain would also have normally watered the fields in Canaan, the pastures of southwestern North America and the rice-paddies of Asia.

This historical fact, as plainly revealed in God’s Word, can be found in Genesis 41 and specifically in verses 56 and 57 (ESV) which read: “So when the famine had spread over all the land (erets) Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land (erets) of Egypt. Moreover, all the earth (erets) came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth (erets).”

Notice that even the liberal ESV scholars responsible for this less-than-literal translation could not deny the author’s (Moses) intent regarding the scope of the catastrophe: “all the earth came to Egypt” and the “famine was severe over all the earth.” However, they still try to subvert the text by translating erets as “the land” in the beginning of verse 56, the same word translated “earth” later in the same verse.

The translators of the King James Version, who were not biased by worldly modern science and evolution, translate Genesis 41:56 accurately as: “And the famine was over all the face of the earth.” It should not escape our notice that these are the same Hebrew words used in Genesis 1:2 (ESV) which describe the original state of the whole creation wherein the Spirit hovered “over the face of the deep.”

The global intent of the phrase “the face of the earth” from the creation account is also implicit in another global event, Noah’s Flood. In Genesis 8 we find multiple uses of the same phrase, for example, in reference to Noah’s Flood Genesis 8:9 (KJV) states: “for the waters were on the face of the whole earth.” (using the same word, “erets,” used to describe the scope of Joseph’s famine) Clearly, the author’s intention was to explain that the entire planet was completely under water.

Similarly, we can see that the plain reading of the authoritative Word of God absolutely requires that this severe famine causing “neither plowing nor harvest” (Gen 45:6 ESV) must also have covered the entire planet Earth. Even though God’s eyewitness testimony should be enough for us to believe this historical fact, He has further blessed us with confirming physical evidence of this worldwide calamity, leaving no excuse (Romans 1:20) for denial of this dramatic global event.

Amazing confirmation of Joseph’s Global Famine

Based upon that clear description of a real historical event, it is quite rational to conclude that one should expect to find evidence today of a devastating global famine in historical records and of its physical effects on the surface of the earth. And indeed, that is exactly what we find.

Observational evidence and historical records from around the world attest to a global famine around the year 1700 B.C. We will limit ourselves to just a few of the many examples.

The respected website Ancient Patriarchs reports that research shows that Chinese emperor Cheng Tang recorded a seven-year famine from 1704-1697 B.C which directly overlaps possible dates of Joseph’s famine. Civilizations such as the Olmecs who migrated to the Yucatan Peninsula in 1700 B.C. invented plumbing, demonstrating a sudden need and interest in water conservation in land not usually lacking water. Other civilizations, such as the South American peoples who had their origins around 1700 B.C., established their kingdom in what is today known as Bolivia. This high volume of migration attests to a time in which food supplies were waning and people were moving to find new sources of food but not realizing that the entire world was engulfed in this severe famine as well.

Lastly, echoes of advances, first made by the Egyptians, in other parts of the world are a direct testimony to the fact that people from the “whole face of the earth” came to Egypt to find food. These people who witnessed Egyptian culture, took certain aspects back to their homes once the famine had ended. For instance, consider the Mesoamerican pyramids in South and Central America, and the fondness for cats in North America. These are both clear evidence, visible even today, of the planet-wide famine of 1700 B.C.


South Americans that traveled to Egypt during Joseph’s famine even copied the general layout of the pyramids. Top: Giza, Egypt, Bottom: Teotihuacan, Mexico

God used Joseph’s famine for the good of not just Israel but all the earth’s inhabitants

We know that the Bible is accurate in every detail and this helps us to understand that this global famine attests to an extreme global warming event brought on by God, similar to how Job’s life attested to the reality of the single Ice Age following the global Noahic Flood. The Ice Age was an after-effect of a global Flood; but such an icy world would have presented problems for future generations. Similarly, the famine caused by global warming and lack of precipitation, though it was a great blessing since it reshaped the physical world, was also a judgment on the people of the Earth,

We propose that the seven-year famine was used by God to quickly remove the vast ice fields that covered the land (the entire planet). The massive melting caused the formation of the astounding Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, Yosemite Valley and many other erosional features of the earth including large deltas that would become valuable agricultural land in the future. Through God’s gracious provision, people could now spread across the world into regions previously made uninhabitable by the ice caused by Noah’s flood.

Since we have abundant evidence of a world-wide famine we can ask what might have caused such an effect. Of course God is the primary cause but in Noah’s day he used many secondary causes—i.e. natural mechanisms—to achieve His purposes. For example, to initiate the Flood, an asteroid or a passing planet may have been providentially timed to pull on structural weaknesses in the Earth—placed there during the creation in anticipation of this future event—causing the storehouses of water below the surface to be released. For the Famine of Joseph, we propose that a second interloping planet passed close to the Earth causing a disturbance in the axis of the earth causing more extreme weather patterns for several years. Our omniscient God, knowing the position of every object in the solar system, set the object on its trajectory years prior in anticipation of this event, likely during the creation itself. Later, God related to Pharaoh a vision and gave Joseph the insight to properly interpret this vision thus preserving Israel and the seed of Abraham.

It is worth noting here that this is real global climate change and it is recorded for us right there in our Bibles. Today, our politicians and even some of our church leaders look at changes in polar ice caps and increasing carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere and worry about climate change but ignore and belittle real climate change that caused a massive famine throughout the whole world just 3700 years ago. We deny real global catastrophes while gnashing our teeth over minor blips in temperature changes that may take decades to cause lasting impact.

It’s a Biblical Authority issue

This is ultimately about the authority of God’s Word, which plainly teaches that the Famine of Joseph was global in extent. Indeed, if the text of Genesis 41 clearly teaches—as it does—that the Famine of 1700 B.C. was global and we reject that teaching, then we undermine the reliability and authority of other parts of Scripture, including John 3:16. God’s Word is trustworthy and authoritative in all that it affirms. (1)

These and many more biblical, theological, and scientific considerations make the compromise of a mere local famine, so often promoted by liberal seminary professors, totally untenable. This is all ultimately about the authority of all of God’s Word, which plainly teaches that the Famine of Joseph was global in extent. (1)

We all have the same data. It’s really a question of the worldview we interpret that data though and when viewed with the right worldview “glasses” the biblical and scientific evidence support a global famine.

It is time to recognize and defend the historicity of one of the most profound events that has taken place in earth’s history. No less than biblical authority is at stake. (2)


  1. This text was copied from The New Answers Book 3 published by leading Young Earth Creationist’ apologetic ministry Answers in Genesis except I replaced references to Noah’s Flood with Joseph’s Famine.
  2. This is a work of satire but should not be interpreted as promoting a mythological view of Joseph or a low view of biblical authority. I believe Joseph was a real person in history and that there was a severe famine in the land as is recorded in scripture. That said, I don’t believe biblical exegesis requires that famine to be global in extent and that peoples from literally the whole earth came to Egypt to buy grain. Does that make me a compromiser or biblical authority? I don’t think so. Those who promote such “literal” interpretations of words used to describe the scope of events or the length of days must understand that such interpretations, if followed to their logical conclusions, will cause scripture to be understood in ways that were never intended by the author.


18 thoughts on “Answers from Genesis: Reclaiming the Biblical Authority of Joseph’s Global Famine

    1. Ah, thanks. I was thinking of The Famine Encounter. Based just outside Death Valley visitors can experience what it was like during Joseph’s Global Famine while enjoying fine dining at the “7-years-of-Plenty” restaurant.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Whew! I’m glad I read to the end! I was afraid the nutburgers had taken over the site, or something. You used, in satire, a number of points I often use, referring to the difference between ‘world’ and ‘earth’. You should redo this for April Fool’s day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Shouldn’t make fun of our literal brethren. I met a young man who was YEC and I pointed out some things to him like the sheer amount of fossils on Earth and that a few fossil fields could cover the planet by themselves and therefore the Earth could not have supported them. He was quite upset when I gave him Haywards Creation and Evolution, but I pointed him to some Hebrew scholars who said the English version of the Bible wasn’t all to be said. He is an OEC now and no longer doubting what he has been taught about the essentials of Christianity. Yes the YECs are saved and so are we.


  3. While we are on the subject of Biblical authority, what about Deuteronomy 22 and stoning to death brides who didn’t bleed on their wedding night? That seems to me a highly cogent question, and I have yet to find a creationist with any sort of defense of this passage, or any of the many others in the Bible. Non-fundamentalist Christians can always say that Old Testament laws are not binding on them, but where does that leave AIG with its insistence that every bit of the Bible is God’s Word?


    1. Ted, Check out William Webb’s book “Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis.” You may disagree with his analysis, but I found that he gives a reasonable “defense” of those sorts of passages.


  4. Well Done! Reading along, I was asking myself if maybe an undetectable computer glitch had hooked your piece into the end of an actual “Answers” article. So you join the happy ranks of such great spoofers as I remember from, on Search: mole rats antarctic penguins. Sadly, “Discover” has seen fit not to continue this April tradition. The mole rat thing, from a trusted magazine, fooled me because – as with Ken Ham & Co. – the big deal is (earned?) TRUST in “authority.”

    We can trust the Bible, properly translated. For instance, Search: genesis 2:6. Here you find 22 Bible translations, 15 giving us a MIST “going up” (after creation of our Sun on Day 4) and 7 doing SPRING water “going out” (impossible for many reasons, but crucial in the Morris 1976 “The Genesis Record”). The Hebrew word in Genesis 2:6 is “alah” (go up), as in Gen. 19:28, 44:33, Ex. 10:14, 12:38, Dt. 30:12 etc. The common Hebrew word “yatsa” is “go forth” in Gen. 8:7,16,18,19, or “go out” from Gen. 2:10, 4:16, 9:10 etc. to Zech. 14:8, where “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem.” But “yatsa” is NOT the word used by Moses in Genesis 2:6. The “new” Christian Standard Bible is mostly a Baptist creation, so it’s no surprise, seeing it stuck on the Morris scenario.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Streams can come up out of the earth. Aquifers/underground springs, the ancients were aware of this, it’s nothing new. There is no need to translate it anything other than “go up”. I would also point out that said passage does not describe the “finished” state of that creation account, but rather the initial conditions. Just like Genesis 1:2 describes the initial conditions for the Genesis 1 creation account (formless, empty, dark), Genesis 2:6 is describing the initial conditions for the Genesis 2 creation account (dry, no rain, no man, no plants). It is not a statement (like YEC tend to believe) that it never rained before the flood or the fall.


  5. I must admit, I busted a gut…

    But ask them (AiG) about Genesis 8:13 “In the six hundred and first year, in the first month, the first day of the month, the waters were dried from off the earth.” ESV

    Ask them, are the oceans now gone? They might respond, oh that… no, that verse we read from a local perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Very clever.
    Perhaps you could write something in a similar vein regarding walking on water and coming back from the dead?
    That would be worth a smile or two I’m sure!


  7. Wow. For minute I thought this site had been hacked. It did strike me how everything in such literature seems to boil down to establishing or reestablishing the Bible’s authority, which is always “threatened” or “under attack.” Any reading that is not strictly literalistic is part of the “threat.” A very hide-in-the-bunkers worldview.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I must say: this blog has been the single most educational, entertaining, and absolutely enjoyable thing I read regarding counter-creationism. I absolutely love the stuff you publish. That said, this post comes close to losing your normal scientific detachment, which I feel is the strongest point in our (theistic evolutionary) point of view. Please don’t begin ridiculing your opponents- never surrender the high ground. Love your work, and god bless.


    1. I really appreciate the feedback. Thanks for the encouragement and your willingness to provide constructive criticism. I was quite convicted by your response and a few similar private replies I also received. Satire is always dangerous and this exercise has reminded me of how easy it is to misread the intent. My thought process was that this was a serious contemplation of biblical hermaneutics but the wide range of responses tells me that my intent has not been obvious. As a result I decided not to push it out on social media as far as I had planned and I tried to make it clearer on FB that this was not to make fun of YECs but make them think about how they approach their literalistic interpretation.


  9. Witty 🙂 I’m a YEC guy, and I believe that typology, morals, and Christ are all uncovered in the plain reading of the text. The four senses of Scripture are: literal, moral, allegorical, and anagogical. Here is an excellent article by Thomas J. Purifoy underlining a well-reasoned and historical view of Biblical exegesis and explaining these perspectives: The scholarship among YEC intellectuals is quite profound right now due to all the push-back they have been receiving. I have compiled some resources here:


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