1After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and behold, there came up out of the Nile seven cows sleek and fat, and they fed in the reed grass. 3And behold, seven other cows, gaunt and thin, came up out of the Nile after them, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4And the gaunt and thin cows ate up the seven sleek and fat cows. And Pharaoh awoke. 5And he fell asleep and dreamed a second time; and behold, seven ears of grain, plump and good, were growing on one stalk. 6And behold, after them sprouted seven ears, thin and blighted by the east wind. 7And the thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and behold, it was a dream. 8So in the morning his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men; and Pharaoh told them his dream, but there was none who could interpret it#41.8 Gk: Heb them to Pharaoh.
9Then the chief butler said to Pharaoh, “I remember my faults today. 10When Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, 11we dreamed on the same night, he and I, each having a dream with its own meaning. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard; and when we told him, he interpreted our dreams to us, giving an interpretation to each man according to his dream. 13And as he interpreted to us, so it came to pass; I was restored to my office, and the baker was hanged.”
14Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. 15And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it; and I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, in my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile; 18and seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass; 19and seven other cows came up after them, poor and very gaunt and thin, such as I had never seen in all the land of Egypt. 20And the thin and gaunt cows ate up the first seven fat cows, 21but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as gaunt as at the beginning. Then I awoke. 22I also saw in my dream seven ears growing on one stalk, full and good; 23and seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dream of Pharaoh is one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears are seven years; the dream is one. 27The seven lean and gaunt cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty ears blighted by the east wind are also seven years of famine. 28It is as I told Pharaoh, God has shown to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt, 30but after them there will arise seven years of famine, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; the famine will consume the land, 31and the plenty will be unknown in the land by reason of that famine which will follow, for it will be very grievous. 32And the doubling of Pharaoh's dream means that the thing is fixed by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass. 33Now therefore let Pharaoh select a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh proceed to appoint overseers over the land, and take the fifth part of the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven plenteous years. 35And let them gather all the food of these good years that are coming, and lay up grain under the authority of Pharaoh for food in the cities, and let them keep it. 36That food shall be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine which are to befall the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish through the famine.”
37This proposal seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his servants. 38#Acts 7.10. And Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find such a man as this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” 39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discreet and wise as you are; 40you shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” 41And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43and he made him to ride in his second chariot; and they cried before him, “Bow the knee!”#41.43 Abrek, probably an Egyptian word similar in sound to the Hebrew word meaning to kneel Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphenath-paneah; and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On. So Joseph went out over the land of Egypt.
46Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went through all the land of Egypt. 47During the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth abundantly, 48and he gathered up all the food of the seven years when there was plenty#41.48 Sam Gk: Heb which were in the land of Egypt, and stored up food in the cities; he stored up in every city the food from the fields around it. 49And Joseph stored up grain in great abundance, like the sand of the sea, until he ceased to measure it, for it could not be measured.
50Before the year of famine came, Joseph had two sons, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him. 51Joseph called the name of the first-born Manasseh,#41.51 That is Making to forget “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father's house.” 52The name of the second he called Ephraim,#41.52 From a Hebrew word meaning to be fruitful “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
53The seven years of plenty that prevailed in the land of Egypt came to an end; 54#Acts 7.11. and the seven years of famine began to come, as Joseph had said. There was famine in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread. 55When all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread; and Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph; what he says to you, do.” 56So when the famine had spread over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses,#41.56 Gk Vg Compare Syr: Heb all that was in them and sold to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57Moreover, all the earth came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, because the famine was severe over all the earth.
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From the Pit to the Palace
1After two full years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile, 2and up from the river emerged seven healthy, fat cows, and they began grazing in the marshland. 3Then he saw seven other cows come up out of the Nile right behind them. They were ugly and thin, and they stood beside the fat cows on the riverbank. 4The seven ugly, thin cows ate up the seven healthy, fat cows.
After Pharaoh’s dream he awoke 5and fell back to sleep. He dreamed a second time. In his dream, he saw seven ears of grain, plump, ripe, and growing on a single stalk. 6Close behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and shriveled by the east wind. 7And the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven plump and full ears. Then Pharaoh awoke from his vivid and disturbing dream!
8The next morning, his spirit was agitated, so he called for all the magicians # 41:8 The Hebrew word for “magicians” is hartumim and is used exclusively in connection with Egypt and Babylon. and wise men in Egypt. Pharaoh recounted his dreams to them, but no one could give him the interpretation.
9When the chief steward heard about the dreams he remembered Joseph and said to Pharaoh, “Please, your dream reminds me today of my failures. 10Once, when Pharaoh was angry with his servants, he incarcerated me and the chief baker in the prison of Potiphar, the captain of the guard. 11We both had dreams on the same night but with different meanings. 12There was a young Hebrew man imprisoned with us who had been the personal servant to the captain of the guard. And when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them and told each of us their meaning. 13And it happened just as he said. Pharaoh restored me to my post, but he had the baker impaled.”
14After hearing this, Pharaoh immediately sent for Joseph. They rushed him out of the dungeon to prepare him to meet with the king. # 41:14 Joseph’s dreams landed him in a pit and later in a prison. It was Joseph’s gift for interpreting dreams that brought him out from the prison to stand before Pharaoh (see Prov. 22:29). When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came and stood before Pharaoh. # 41:14 Joseph did not immediately beg to be released from prison. He approached the mighty Pharaoh with dignity and respect. Joseph quickly acknowledged that only God has the power to interpret dreams, for he is the One who gives them. Like the Lord Jesus, Joseph did only what the Father revealed to him (see John 5:19, 30).
15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had two dreams that no one can explain. I have heard that you are able to interpret a dream the moment you hear it.”
16“I cannot do it alone,” Joseph replied, “but God will help me to give Pharaoh the proper interpretation for Pharaoh’s welfare.”
17Then Pharaoh told Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18and up from the river emerged seven healthy, fat cows, and they began to graze in the marshland. 19Right behind them followed seven other scrawny and emaciated cows. Never have I seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt! 20The seven ugly, scrawny cows ate up the healthy, fat cows, 21but after consuming them, no one could tell that they had eaten them, for they looked just as bad as before. I awoke with a start, 22but immediately went back to sleep and had another dream. I saw seven ears of grain, full and ripe, growing on a single stalk. 23Right behind them sprouted seven thin, shriveled ears, scorched by the east wind. 24The seven shriveled ears swallowed up the seven healthy ears. I have shared my dreams with my magicians, but no one can give me an interpretation.”
Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both your dreams tell the same story, for God has prophetically told Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26Both the seven healthy cows and the seven healthy ears represent seven good years; it’s the same dream. 27The seven ugly and scrawny cows that followed and the seven shriveled ears scorched by the east wind are seven years also. They represent seven years of famine. 28It is just as I have told Pharaoh; God has divinely revealed what he is about to do. 29There will come seven years of great abundance throughout all the land of Egypt, 30-31followed by seven years of intense famine. All of Egypt will forget the former abundance, for all the land will be ravaged by a famine, a very severe famine. They will not even remember their former abundance. 32The reason that Pharaoh’s dream was repeated is that God has determined that it will surely happen, # 41:32 See Deut. 13:1–5. and that he will soon carry it out.”
33Joseph continued, “Let Pharaoh select a very wise and discerning man and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh appoint other officials throughout the land to collect one-fifth of all the crops each year during the seven plentiful years. 35Have them gather all the food of these abundant years that are coming, and under Pharaoh’s authority, have the grain stored in the cities for food. 36Store it all as food reserve for the people during the seven years of famine coming upon Egypt, so that the land will survive the famine.”
Joseph Promoted to Power
37Joseph’s proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his advisers. 38He said to them, “Where can we find anyone else like this one, for he has the Spirit of God in him!” # 41:38 How true this is of Jesus as well. There is simply no one like our Lord Jesus Christ. He walked in the fullness of the Spirit without limitation (see John 3:34). Joseph was a forerunner of our Lord Jesus. His wisdom and understanding for interpreting dreams flowed out of a relationship with God’s Spirit. True wisdom comes from the Spirit of Christ (see Col. 2:3). This is the first time that Scripture mentions that someone has the Spirit of God in them. Later in the Old Testament, Bezalel, the craftsman of the tabernacle, is similarly described (see Ex. 31:3; 35:31), as well as Daniel (see Dan. 5:14). 39So Pharaoh turned to Joseph and said, “Since God has divinely revealed this to you, there is no one as wise and full of insight as you. 40I hereby place you in charge of all my affairs, and all my people will obey your commands. # 41:40 The Hebrew text is literally “on your mouth all my people will kiss.” See also Ps. 2:11–12, where a kiss demonstrates serving and worshiping God. Only I, the king, # 41:40 Or “Only the throne,” a metonymy for the king and his authority. will be greater than you!
41“Listen to me, Joseph,” Pharaoh continued. “I am placing you in charge of all of Egypt.” 42Then he removed his signet ring, # 41:42 Pharaoh validated Joseph’s authority by giving him his signet ring, which had the royal seal of Egypt engraved upon it. placed it on Joseph’s finger, and had him clothed with fine linen robes! # 41:42 Instead of prison garments, Joseph was given the finest of clothing (the linen garments of a priest). Joseph had lost a robe twice; now he received a new one! He who had been dragging fetters of iron was now adorned with a chain of gold. Pharaoh gave Joseph an usekh, a broad collar made of gold. The Egyptians placed these collars on their deities or officials. Pharaoh recognized that God was with Joseph, and the Egyptians would recognize Joseph’s authority. See Dan. 5:7; Est. 8:2. Instead of sitting in a dingy dungeon, Joseph was free. He was even given the keys to his own chariot! Joseph was now thirty years old (see Gen. 41:46). This is the age at which Jewish men could enter priestly service at the temple and the age at which Jesus began his earthly ministry. Nevertheless, it is a very young age to be awarded the highest governmental position in a powerful nation with the responsibility of running the affairs of the country. This testifies to Joseph’s God-given wisdom and grace. He adorned him with a golden collar around his neck. 43Pharaoh had him ride in the chariot reserved for the second-in-command and sent runners going before him, crying out, “Kneel!” # 41:43 Joseph, once accused of rape, was now made prime minister, head of all the people, chief justice, and general of the armed forces in all of Egypt—all as a foreigner! He went from a prison to the highest office in the land in one day! Joseph had the strange experience of having what others dream about, but not what he dreamed about. His gifts were finally recognized, but not by his brothers. A million people shouting “Kneel!” would not do for Joseph as much as eleven brothers doing the same. This exaltation, as glorious as it was, still fell short of what God had promised Joseph in his dreams. In this way, Pharaoh placed Joseph over all the land of Egypt.
44Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh. No one in all of Egypt will lift a finger # 41:44 Or “no one will lift a hand or foot.” without your permission!”
A New Identity and a Bride
45Pharaoh gave Joseph a new name: Revealer of Secrets. # 41:45 Or “Zaphenath-Paneah.” The root word for “Zaphenath” means “to hide,” and the root word for “Paneah” means “to disclose [explain].” The Greek of the Septuagint can be translated “savior of the world [sustainer of life].” Other scholars believe it could be translated “God has said, ‘he will live.’ ” Each of these possible translations can point us to Jesus Christ, the true Revealer of Mysteries, the Savior of the world, and the One God raised from the dead. He also arranged for him to marry the daughter of Potiphera, # 41:45 Potiphera is the longer form of the name Potiphar. Some of oldest traditions of Rabbinical Judaism state that Potiphera was the same Potiphar that had Joseph imprisoned (see Rashi, Rashbam, Alshich). This would have been Joseph’s final vindication of innocence, to marry the daughter of the one who accused him. However, more contemporary scholars believe Potiphera was a different individual than the captain of the guard. the priest of Heliopolis. # 41:45 Or “On [strength, vigor],” which is also recognized as Heliopolis, a modern suburb of Cairo. It is one of the most ancient Egyptian cities and was the seat of worship of the sun god Ra. Heliopolis is the home of the oldest obelisk on earth, the Obelisk of Sesostris I. Joseph was marrying the daughter of one of the most respected men in Egypt. Her name was Asenath. # 41:45 Asenath, the daughter of the Egyptian priest of On, means “belonging to (the goddess) Neith.” Joseph was given a bride while rejected by his brothers. Joseph is a type of Christ who finds a bride during this church age. See 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25–26. And Joseph took charge over all the land of Egypt. # 41:45 Or “Joseph went out throughout the land of Egypt.” 46Joseph was thirty years old # 41:46 Jesus, too, was thirty when he began his public ministry. Ezekiel was thirty when he was visited by God. Thirty is the number of maturity and the priesthood, for a priest had to be thirty before he could serve in temple worship. when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. # 41:46 Joseph had lived thirteen years in captivity. Leaving Pharaoh’s presence, Joseph traveled throughout the entire land of Egypt. # 41:46 Think of this as Joseph’s royal tour, inspecting the kingdom he was to rule over.
Seven Years of Abundance
47During the seven years of abundance, the land produced bumper crops. 48Joseph supervised the gathering up of all the great stores of food of the seven years of abundance and strategically placed them in various walled cities near where the harvest was gathered. # 41:48 One can see the wisdom of Joseph in storing the grain near where it would be needed, versus keeping it all in one central storage place. 49He gathered such massive quantities of produce that he gave up trying to measure it all, for it was like counting the sand on the seashore.
Joseph’s Two Sons
50Prior to the famine, Joseph and Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis, had two sons. 51Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, # 41:51 Manasseh sounds like the Hebrew words for “he causes to forget.” saying, “God has made me forget all my troubles and my parental home.” 52The second he named Ephraim, # 41:52 Ephraim comes from the Hebrew word for “being fruitful,” with an implication of “double fruitfulness.” This is God’s order: Manasseh then Ephraim. God must cause us to forget our prisons of the past before we can become fruitful. The “King’s prison” is the place where we forget our pain so we can move on into the fruitfulness of becoming like Christ, one who forgives others. Instead of seeking revenge toward our brothers who have harmed us, we must give birth to a “Manasseh.” To call your afflictions “blessings” is to become fruitful and give birth to an “Ephraim.” In all of these things, we acknowledge that they are the glorious work of God (see Phil. 4:8)! saying, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
53Eventually, Egypt’s seven years of abundance came to an end. 54Then began the seven years of famine, just as Joseph prophesied. Although there was a severe famine everywhere else, food was available throughout the land of Egypt. 55When the Egyptians grew hungry, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh said to all his people, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” # 41:55 Joseph, in effect, became the Minister of Agriculture over the land. His first dream of bundles of wheat bowing before him was a prophetic hint of his future responsibilities.
56As the famine worsened over all the land, Joseph opened all the storehouses # 41:56 As translated from the Septuagint, Vulgate, and Syriac. The Hebrew is “he opened all that was among them.” Joseph opened the door for others to be fed. He was an exceptional administrator and a wise manager of Egypt’s resources. Because he had passed each previous test and grown in character, he was ready when the Lord promoted him to a place of such power. He handled all this prestige without pride or arrogance. Joseph was a man prepared to rule in wisdom and to use his position of authority to provide for others. God now had a man he could use as a deliverer. and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe everywhere. 57So because of the severity of the worldwide famine, people from all over the world had to come and buy grain from Joseph.
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