Home > Bible Journal > January 28th, Genesis 40-41: Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams

January 28th, Genesis 40-41: Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams

February 23, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Dream interpretation can be a tricky thing. After Sigmund Freud came along, every dream humans had was about sex. But back in the Biblical days, dreams carried a deep, mystical context. God often revealed himself in dreams and visions in order to send a message more readily understand for our minds.

Genesis 40 tells ups that the cupbearer and baker of the king of Egypt angered their master, the king of Egypt. They were thrown into the same prison that Joseph was.

After some time, the cupbearer and baker each had a dream on the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. But they woke up sad, for there was no one to interpret their dreams. Yet Joseph told them that interpretations belonged to God, and asked them to tell him his dreams.

Joseph interpreted the cupbearer’s dream that he would be forgiven and return to the Pharaoh’s service. Joseph asked that if this came to pass, that the cupbearer remember him and get him out of prison.

unfortunately, the baker’s dream meant that the Pharaoh would hang his head. Three days later was the Pharaoh’s birthday, and Joseph’s interpretations came to pass. The cupbearer, though, forgot about his dream interpreter.

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had not one but two dreams.

Genesis 41:1-7 says:
1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

Pharaoh sent out for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt, but none of them could interpret his dreams. Then the chief cupbearer mentioned a young Hebrew that had correctly interpreted his dream while he had been in prison. So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, who shaved and changed clothes.

The first thing that Joseph did was to make it clear that God was the one doing the interpreting. So Pharaoh recounted his dreams to Joseph.

Then Joseph relayed what God had told him. There would be seven years of great abundance, followed by seven years of severe famine.

Genesis 41:32 says:
32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

Joseph then told Pharaoh to look for a discerning and wise man to take charge of the land. Let him appoint commissioners to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. This food would be held in reserve for the seven years of famine.

The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and all of his officials. Then Pharaoh put Joseph in charge, taking a signet ring from his finger and giving it to Joseph. Only Pharaoh would outrank Joseph now.

Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah, which can mean “revealer of divine things”. He also gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On, to be his wife.

Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. He collected the harvest dutifully and plentifully during the seven years of abundance. He stored huge quantities of grain, so much that the become like a sea and Joseph stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons born to him by Asenath. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh, sounds like the Hebrew word for “forget”, because God had made him forget all of his troubles and father’s household. Joseph named his secondborn Ephraim, which sounds like Hebrew for “twice fruitful”, for God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.

The seven years of abundance ended, then the seven years of famine began. There was famine in all the other lands, but Egypt had plenty of food thanks to Joseph’s direction and foresight. When all Egypt felt the famine, all the people cried for food. The Pharaoh told them to go to Joseph and do what he told them to do.

Genesis 41:56-57 says:
56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

Questions: Have you ever had a dream that needed to be interpreted? Has God ever told you something twice?

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