'Famine' in the Bible
Now there was a famine in the land; and Abram went down into Egypt to live temporarily, for the famine in the land was oppressive and severe.
Now there was a famine in the land [of Canaan], besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
The seven thin and ugly cows that came up after them are seven years; and also the seven thin ears, dried up and scorched by the east wind, they are seven years of famine and hunger.
but afterward seven years of famine and hunger will come, and [there will be such desperate need that] all the great abundance [of the previous years] will be forgotten in the land of Egypt [as if it never happened], and famine and destitution will ravage and destroy the land.
So the great abundance will become forgotten in the land because of that subsequent famine, for it will be very severe.
That food shall be put [in storage] as a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine and hunger which will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land (people) will not be ravaged during the famine.”
Now two sons were born to Joseph before the years of famine came, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, bore to him.
the seven years of famine began to come, just as Joseph had said [they would]; the famine was in all the [surrounding] lands, but in the land of Egypt there was bread (food).
When the famine was spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold [surplus grain] to the Egyptians; and the famine grew [extremely] severe in the land of Egypt.
And [the people of] all countries came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the [known] earth.
For the famine has been in the land these two years, and there are still five more years in which there will be no plowing and harvesting.
There I will provide for you and sustain you, so that you and your household and all that are yours may not become impoverished, for there are still five years of famine to come.”’
Moreover, they said to Pharaoh, “We have come to live temporarily (sojourn) in the land [of Egypt], for there is no pasture for the flocks of your servants [in our land], for the famine is very severe in Canaan. So now, please let your servants live in the land of Goshen.”
Now [in the course of time] there was no food in all the land, for the famine was distressingly severe, so that the land of Egypt and all the land of Canaan languished [in destitution and starvation] because of the famine.
So Joseph bought all the land of Egypt for Pharaoh; for every Egyptian sold his field because the famine was severe upon them. So the land became Pharaoh’s.
In the days when the judges governed [Israel], there was a famine in the land [of Canaan]. And a certain man of Bethlehem in Judah went to live temporarily in the country of Moab with his wife and his two sons.
There was famine in the days of David for three consecutive years; and David sought the presence (face) of the Lord [asking the reason]. The Lord replied, “It is because of Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death.”
So Gad came to David and told him, and said to him, “Shall seven years of famine come to you in your land? Or will you flee three months before your enemies as they pursue you? Or shall there be three days of pestilence (plague) in your land? Now consider this and decide what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.”
“If there is famine in the land, or if there is pestilence (plague), blight, mildew, migratory locusts, or grasshoppers, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever affliction or plague, whatever sickness [there is],
So Elijah went to show himself to Ahab. Now the famine was severe in Samaria.
Elisha came back to Gilgal during a famine in the land. The sons of the prophets were sitting before him, and he said to his servant, “Put on the large pot and cook stew for the sons of the prophets.”
Now there was a great famine in Samaria; and they besieged it until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty shekels of silver, and a fourth of a kab of dove’s dung for five shekels of silver.
If we say, ‘We will enter the city’—then the famine is in the city and we will die there; and if we sit still here, we will also die. So now come, let us go over to the camp of the Arameans (Syrians). If they let us live, we will live; and if they kill us, we will only die.”
Now Elisha had said to the [Shunammite] woman whose son he had restored to life, “Prepare and go, you and your household, and stay temporarily wherever you can; for the Lord has called for a famine, and moreover, it will come on the land [and continue] for seven years.”
On the ninth day of the fourth month the famine [caused by the siege] was severe in the city; there was no food for the people of the land.
either three years of famine, or three months to be swept away before your enemies, while the sword of your enemies overtakes you, or else three days of the sword of the Lord and plague in the land, and the angel of the Lord bringing destruction throughout all the territory of Israel.’ Now therefore, consider what answer I shall return to Him who sent me.”
“If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, if there are [migratory] locusts or grasshoppers, if their enemies besiege them in the land of their cities, whatever plague or whatever sickness there is,
‘If evil comes on us, or the sword of judgment, or plague, or famine, we will stand before this house and before You (for Your Name and Your Presence is in this house) and we will cry out to You in our distress, and You will hear and save us.’
Is not Hezekiah misleading you in order to let you die by famine and thirst, while saying, “The Lord our God will rescue us from the hand of the king of Assyria?”
“In famine He will redeem you from death,And in war from the power of the sword.
“You will laugh at violence and famine,And you will not be afraid of the wild beasts of the earth.
“They are gaunt with want and famine;They gnaw the dry and barren ground by night in [the gloom of] waste and desolation.
To rescue their lives from deathAnd keep them alive in famine.
They will not be ashamed in the time of evil,And in the days of famine they will have plenty and be satisfied.
And He called for a famine upon the land [of Egypt];He cut off every source of bread.
“The firstborn of the helpless [of Judah] will feed [on My meadows],And the needy will lie down in safety;But I will kill your root with famine,And your survivors will be put to death.
These two tragedies have befallen you;Who will show sympathy for you and mourn with you?The desolation and destruction [on the land and city], famine and sword [on the inhabitants];How shall I comfort you?
They have lied about and denied the LordBy saying, “It is not He [who speaks through His prophets];Misfortune and evil shall not come on us,Nor will we see war or famine.
Therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts, “Behold, I am about to punish them. Their young men will die by the sword, their sons and their daughters will die by famine;
Though they fast, I will not hear their cry; and though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them [because they are done as obligations, and not as acts of loving obedience]. Instead I will consume them by the sword, by famine, and by pestilence.”
But I said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, the [false] prophets are telling them, ‘You will not see the sword nor will you have famine, but I [the Lord] will give you lasting peace in this place.’”
Therefore, thus says the Lord concerning the [false] prophets who are prophesying in My Name, although I did not send them—yet they keep saying, ‘Sword and famine shall not be in this land’: by sword and famine those prophets shall meet their end and be consumed.
And the people to whom they are prophesying will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem, victims of famine and sword; and they will have no one to bury them—neither them, nor their wives, nor their sons, nor their daughters. For I will pour out their [own] wickedness on them [and not only on the imposters posing as prophets, for the people could not have been deceived without their own consent].
‘If I go out into the field,Then I gaze on those slaughtered with the sword!And if I enter the city,Then I gaze on [those tormented with] the diseases of famine!For both prophet and priest [who should have guided the people]Go about [bewildered and exiled] in a land (Babylon) that they do not know or understand.’”
And it shall be that when they say to you, ‘Where should we go?’ then tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord:“Those [destined] for death, to death;Those for the sword, to the sword;Those for famine, to famine;Those for captivity, to captivity.”’
“They will die of deadly diseases. They will not be mourned or buried; they will be like dung on the surface of the ground and come to an end by sword and famine, and their dead bodies will be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth.”
Therefore, give their children over to the famine;Give them over to the power of the sword.And let their wives become childless and widowed;Let their men meet death [by virulent disease],Their young men be struck down by the sword in battle.
Then afterward,” says the Lord, “I will hand over Zedekiah king of Judah and his servants and the people in this city who survive the virulent disease, the sword, and the famine, to Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of their enemy, into the hand of those who seek their lives. And he will strike them with the edge of the sword; he will not spare them nor have mercy and compassion on them.”’
He who remains in this city [of Jerusalem] will die by the sword and by famine and by virulent disease. But he who goes outside and surrenders to the Chaldeans who are besieging you will live, and his life will be like a prize of war to him.
I will send the sword, famine and virulent disease among them until they are consumed from the land which I gave to them and to their fathers.’”
“But any nation or kingdom that will not serve this same Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will punish,” says the Lord, “with the sword, with famine and with pestilence (virulent disease), until I have destroyed it by Nebuchadnezzar’s hand.
Why will you die, you and your people, by the sword, by famine and by virulent disease, as the Lord has spoken to any nation which will not serve the king of Babylon?
thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Behold (listen very carefully), I am sending the sword, famine, and virulent disease (pestilence) on them, and I will make them like rotten figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten.
I will pursue them with the sword, with famine and with virulent disease; and I will make them a terror (warning) to all the kingdoms of the earth, to be a curse, a horror, a hissing, and a disgrace among all the nations to which I have driven them,
See the siege ramps [of mounded earth that the enemy has built against the walls]; they have come up to the city to capture it. And the city is given into the hand of the Chaldeans [of Babylon] who fight against it, because of the sword, the famine and the virulent disease [that have overcome the people]. What You have spoken has come to pass, and behold, You see it.
“Now therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning this city of which you say, ‘It is given into the hand of the king of Babylon by sword and by famine and by virulent disease.’
“Therefore says the Lord, ‘You have not obeyed Me; you have not proclaimed liberty to your brother and your countryman. Behold (listen very carefully), I am proclaiming liberty to you—[liberty to be put] to the sword, [liberty] to [be ravaged by] the virulent disease, and [liberty] to [be decimated by] famine,’ says the Lord; ‘and I will make you a horror and a warning to all the kingdoms of the earth.
“So says the Lord, ‘He who remains in this city will die by the sword, by famine, and by virulent disease (pestilence), but he who goes out to the Chaldeans [of Babylon] will live and have his [own] life as a reward and stay alive.’
then the sword, of which you are afraid, will overtake you there in the land of Egypt; and the famine of which you are afraid will follow closely after you in Egypt, and you will die there.
So all the men who set their mind to go to Egypt to reside there [temporarily] will die by the sword, by famine and by virulent disease; none of them will remain or survive the disaster that I am going to bring on them.”’”
Now therefore know for certain that you will die by the sword, by famine, and by virulent disease in the land [of Egypt] where you wish to reside [temporarily].
And I will take the remnant of Judah who have decided to go into the land of Egypt to live there [instead of surrendering to the Chaldeans as directed], and they will all fall and die in the land of Egypt; they will fall by the sword or perish by famine. From the least to the greatest, they will die by the sword or by famine; and they will become detestable, an object of horror, a curse, and a disgrace.
For I will punish all the inhabitants of the land of Egypt, as I have punished Jerusalem, with the sword, with famine, and with virulent disease;
But since we stopped burning sacrifices to the queen of heaven and pouring out drink offerings to her, we have lacked everything and have been consumed by the sword and by famine.”
Behold, I am watching over them for harm and not for good; and all the men of Judah who are in the land of Egypt shall be consumed by the sword and by famine until they are all destroyed.
In the fourth month, on the ninth day of the month, the famine was so severe in the city that there was no food for the people of the land.
“See, O Lord, how distressed I am!My spirit is deeply disturbed;My heart is overturned within me and cannot rest,For I have been very rebellious.In the street the sword kills and bereaves;In the house there is [famine, disease and] death!
Their appearance is [now] blacker than soot [because of the prolonged famine];They are not recognized in the streets;Their skin clings to their bones;It is withered, and it has become [dry] like wood.
Those killed with the swordAre more fortunate than those killed with hunger;For the hungry pine and ebb away,For the lack of the fruits of the field.
Our skin is as hot as [the heat of] an ovenBecause of the burning heat of [the fever of] famine.
One third of you will die of virulent disease or be consumed by famine among you; one third will fall by the sword around you; and one third I will scatter to all the winds, and I will unsheathe a sword behind them.
When I send against them the deadly arrows of hunger which were for the destruction of those whom I will send to destroy you, then I will increase the famine upon you and break your staff of bread.
“Thus says the Lord God, ‘Strike with your fist, stamp with your foot and say, “Alas, because of all the evil atrocities of the house of Israel, which will fall by sword, by famine, and by virulent disease!
He who is far away will die of the virulent disease, and he who is near will fall by the sword, and he who remains and is besieged will die by the famine. Thus I will spend My wrath on them.
The sword is outside and virulent disease and famine are within. He who is in the field will die by the sword, and famine and disease will devour those in the city.
But I will leave a few [survivors] who will escape the sword, the famine, and the virulent disease, that they may confess all their repulsive (idolatrous) acts among the nations where they go, and may know [without any doubt] that I am the Lord.”
“Son of man, if a land sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness, and I stretch out My hand against it and destroy its source of bread and send famine on it and cut off from it both man and animal,
For thus says the Lord God, “How much more when I send My four severe judgments against Jerusalem—sword, famine, predatory beasts, and virulent disease—to cut off man and animal from it!
I will also save you from all your uncleanness, and I will call for the grain and make it abundant, and I will not bring famine on you.
I will multiply the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field, so that you will not suffer again the disgrace of famine among the nations.
“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,“When I will send hunger over the land,Not hunger for bread or a thirst for water,But rather [a hunger] for hearing the words of the Lord.
But in truth I say to you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was closed up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land;
Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to do without and be in need.
“Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great distress and our fathers could not find food [for their households and livestock].
One of them named Agabus stood up and prophesied through the [Holy] Spirit that a severe famine would come on the entire world. And this did happen during the reign of Claudius.
So I looked, and behold, an ashen (pale greenish gray) horse [like a corpse, representing death and pestilence]; and its rider’s name was Death; and Hades (the realm of the dead) was following with him. They were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth, to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and by the wild beasts of the earth.
For this reason in a single day her plagues (afflictions, calamities) will come, pestilence and mourning and famine, and she will be burned up with fire and completely consumed; for strong and powerful is the Lord God who judges her.
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