The Cupbearer and the Baker and Their Dreams
1Some time later, # 40:1 Eleven years had passed since the time Joseph was sold into slavery. He was about twenty-eight at this time. both Pharaoh’s chief steward # 40:1 Or “cupbearer” (lit. “drink-giver”). He was the king’s trusted official and had a position to influence Pharaoh. and chief baker deeply offended their master, the king of Egypt. # 40:1 Jewish tradition states that a fly had fallen into Pharaoh’s cup of wine, and a pebble was found in his bread, thus causing this “offense.” See Midrash: by Rashi. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief steward and the chief baker, 3so he incarcerated them in the palace of Potiphar, the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was bound. 4The captain of the guard placed them under Joseph’s charge, and they remained in custody for some time. # 40:4 Jesus was falsely accused, maligned, and crucified between two thieves. At Calvary, the one thief was released (to enter paradise), and the other killed. So it was with the two men imprisoned with Joseph, three days after they were released! Christ was rejected by his brothers (see John 7:5), sold by one of his own (see Matt. 26:14–15), and eventually cast into the prison of death (see 1 Peter 3:18–19). Psalm 105:18 gives us additional information about Joseph’s time in prison: “His feet were bruised by strong shackles and his soul was held by iron.” The last phrase can be translated “his soul entered into iron.” The inner strength of loving and serving in painful circumstances made Joseph’s soul as strong as iron. He learned to serve and to rule over himself first, before God released him to rule over others.
5Then one night, they both dreamed—the steward and the baker, officials of the king of Egypt. They each had a prophetic dream with different interpretations.
6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw they looked miserable, 7so he asked Pharaoh’s two officials who were under his custody, “What’s wrong? Why the sad faces?”
8“We had dreams last night,” they answered, “and we have no one to interpret them.”
And Joseph said to them, “God can interpret your dreams! Please, tell them to me.”
9-10So the chief steward shared his dream with Joseph first. He said, “In my dream, I saw a vine with three branches in front of me. I watched as it budded, then immediately it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11I was holding Pharaoh’s cup, so I took the grapes, squeezed them into his cup, and handed the cup to the king.”
12Joseph said to him, “God has given me the interpretation of your dream: The three branches are three days. 13In three days, Pharaoh will pardon you and restore you to your post. You will once again hand Pharaoh’s cup to him as you used to do as his steward. 14When things start to go well for you, remember me, and please be kind and mention me to Pharaoh so that he might release me from here. # 40:14 Joseph could prophesy the release of another, but not his own. Often, prophetic gifts and words of revelation over other people simply do not come for the prophet. They are gifts to be used to bless others, not for self-consumption. We need others to come with a word for our need. This keeps us dependent not only upon God but also upon others. 15For I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and I have done nothing here to deserve being thrown into this dungeon.” # 40:15 Joseph felt forgotten. He had been forgotten a long, long time. He became a slave when he was seventeen years old, and soon afterward, Potiphar cast him into prison. Not until he was thirty did Pharaoh release him from prison. Thirteen years is a long time to be forgotten. His faith in God and the fulfillment of his dreams kept Joseph faithfully waiting for his day of promotion. Perhaps, like Joseph, you have been let down by others who promised to be a help to you but did not follow through on their pledge. Don’t despair, for God will never forget the plans he has for his children (see Jer. 29:11–13). Even if others let us down, God is always faithful and will bring his plans to pass at the appointed time.
16When the chief baker saw how favorably Joseph interpreted the dream, he said to him, “Let me tell you my dream. I saw three wicker breadbaskets stacked on my head one above the other. 17In the top basket, I saw all kinds of bread and pastries for Pharaoh to enjoy, but the birds came and ate out of the basket above my head.”
18Joseph said, “God has given me the interpretation of your dream: The three baskets are three days. 19In three days, Pharaoh will behead you and impale you on a pole, and birds will eat the flesh off your corpse.”
20Three days later, it was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he threw a huge feast for all his household. He singled out among his servants the chief steward and the chief baker. 21He pardoned the chief steward and restored him to his post, and the steward handed Pharaoh his drink. 22But he had the chief baker beheaded and impaled on a pole. So, Joseph had accurately interpreted both their dreams, 23but the chief steward completely forgot about Joseph and never remembered him.
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The Dreams of Two Prisoners
1Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody. 5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh's officers, who were with him in custody in his master's house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” 8They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”
9So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh's cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.” 12Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; 13within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh's cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. 15For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.”
16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” 18And Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.”
20On the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand; 22but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.
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