Pharaoh’s Dream. 1#Joseph correctly interprets Pharaoh’s dream and becomes second in command over all Egypt. After a lapse of two years, Pharaoh had a dream. He was standing by the Nile, 2when up out of the Nile came seven cows, fine-looking and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. 3Behind them seven other cows, poor-looking and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, 4the poor-looking, gaunt cows devoured the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 6Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind; 7and the thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up—it was a dream!
8Next morning his mind was agitated. So Pharaoh had all the magicians#Magicians: one of the tasks of the “magicians” was interpreting dreams. The interpretation of dreams was a long-standing practice in Egypt. A manual of dream interpretation has been found, written in the early second millennium and re-published later in which typical dreams are given (“If a man sees himself in a dream…”) followed by a judgment of “good” or “bad.” Interpreters were still needed for dreams, however, and Pharaoh complains that none of his dream interpreters can interpret his unprecedented dream. The same term will be used of Pharaoh’s magicians in Exodus. and sages of Egypt summoned and recounted his dream to them; but there was no one to interpret it for him. 9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh: “Now I remember my negligence! 10Once, when Pharaoh was angry with his servants, he put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the chief steward. 11Later, we both had dreams on the same night, and each of our dreams had its own meaning. 12There was a Hebrew youth with us, a slave of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us and explained for each of us the meaning of his dream.#Dn 1:17. 13Things turned out just as he had told us: I was restored to my post, but the other man was impaled.”
14Pharaoh therefore had Joseph summoned, and they hurriedly brought him from the dungeon. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh.#Ps 105:20. 15Pharaoh then said to Joseph: “I had a dream but there was no one to interpret it. But I hear it said of you, ‘If he hears a dream he can interpret it.’” 16“It is not I,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God who will respond for the well-being of Pharaoh.”#Gn 40:8.
17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when up from the Nile came seven cows, fat and well-formed; they grazed in the reed grass. 19Behind them came seven other cows, scrawny, most ill-formed and gaunt. Never have I seen such bad specimens as these in all the land of Egypt! 20The gaunt, bad cows devoured the first seven fat cows. 21But when they had consumed them, no one could tell that they had done so, because they looked as bad as before. Then I woke up. 22In another dream I saw seven ears of grain, full and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 23Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, shriveled and thin and scorched by the east wind; 24and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven healthy ears. I have spoken to the magicians, but there is no one to explain it to me.”
25Joseph said to Pharaoh: “Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has made known to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years—the same in each dream. 27The seven thin, bad cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven thin ears scorched by the east wind; they are seven years of famine. 28Things are just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the land of Egypt; 30but seven years of famine will rise up after them, when all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. When the famine has exhausted the land, 31no trace of the abundance will be found in the land because of the famine that follows it, for it will be very severe. 32That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been confirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.
33“Therefore, let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh act and appoint overseers for the land to organize it during the seven years of abundance. 35They should collect all the food of these coming good years, gathering the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, for food in the cities, and they should guard it. 36This food will serve as a reserve for the country against the seven years of famine that will occur in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”
37This advice pleased Pharaoh and all his servants.#Acts 7:10. 38“Could we find another like him,” Pharaoh asked his servants, “a man so endowed with the spirit of God?” 39So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as discerning and wise as you are. 40You shall be in charge of my household, and all my people will obey your command. Only in respect to the throne will I outrank you.”#1 Mc 2:53; Ps 105:21; Wis 10:14; Acts 7:10. 41Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Look, I put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring#Signet ring: a finger ring in which was set a stamp seal, different from the cylinder seal such as Judah wore; see note on 38:18. By receiving Pharaoh’s signet ring, Joseph was made vizier of Egypt (v. 43); the vizier was known as “seal-bearer of the king of Lower Egypt.” The gold chain was a symbol of high office in ancient Egypt. and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43He then had him ride in his second chariot, and they shouted “Abrek!”#Abrek: apparently a cry of homage, though the word’s derivation and actual meaning are uncertain. before him.
Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt. 44“I am Pharaoh,” he told Joseph, “but without your approval no one shall lift hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45Pharaoh also bestowed the name of Zaphenath-paneah#Zaphenath-paneah: a Hebrew transcription of an Egyptian name meaning “the god speaks and he (the newborn child) lives.” Asenath: means “belonging to (the Egyptian goddess) Neith.” Potiphera: means “he whom Ra (the Egyptian god) gave”; a shorter form of the same name was borne by Joseph’s master (37:36). Heliopolis: in Hebrew, On, a city seven miles northeast of modern Cairo, site of the chief temple of the sun god; it is mentioned also in v. 50; 46:20; Ez 30:17. on Joseph, and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. And Joseph went out over the land of Egypt. 46Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
After Joseph left Pharaoh, he went throughout the land of Egypt. 47During the seven years of plenty, when the land produced abundant crops, 48he collected all the food of these years of plenty that the land of Egypt was enjoying and stored it in the cities, placing in each city the crops of the fields around it. 49Joseph collected grain like the sands of the sea, so much that at last he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.
50Before the famine years set in, Joseph became the father of two sons, borne to him by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis.#Gn 46:20; 48:5. 51Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh,#Manasseh: an allusion to this name is in the Hebrew expression, nishshani, “he made me forget.” meaning, “God has made me forget entirely my troubles and my father’s house”; 52and the second he named Ephraim,#Ephraim: related to the Hebrew expression hiphrani, “(God) has made me fruitful.” The name originally meant something like “fertile land.” meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
53When the seven years of abundance enjoyed by the land of Egypt came to an end, 54the seven years of famine set in, just as Joseph had said. Although there was famine in all the other countries, food was available throughout the land of Egypt.#Ps 105:16; Acts 7:11. 55When all the land of Egypt became hungry and the people cried to Pharaoh for food, Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians: “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the cities that had grain and rationed it to the Egyptians, since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt. 57Indeed, the whole world came to Egypt to Joseph to buy grain, for famine had gripped the whole world.
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1Two years later Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River. 2In the dream, seven cows came out of the river and stood there eating grass. They were healthy, good-looking cows. 3Then seven more cows came out of the river and stood on the bank of the river by the healthy cows. But these cows were thin and looked sick. 4The seven sick cows ate the seven healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5Pharaoh went back to sleep and began dreaming again. This time he dreamed that he saw seven heads of grain growing on one plant. They were healthy and full of grain. 6Then he saw seven more heads of grain sprouting, but they were thin and scorched by the hot wind. 7The thin heads of grain ate the seven good heads of grain. Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was only a dream. 8The next morning Pharaoh was worried about these dreams, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told these men the dreams, but none of them could explain the dreams.
The Servant Tells Pharaoh About Joseph
9Then the wine servant remembered Joseph and said to Pharaoh, “I remember something that happened to me. 10You were angry with the baker and me, and you put us in prison. 11Then one night he and I had a dream. Each dream had a different meaning. 12There was a young Hebrew man in prison with us. He was a servant of the commander of the guards. We told him our dreams, and he explained them to us. He told us the meaning of each dream, 13and what he said came true. He said I would be free and have my old job back, and it happened. He also said the baker would die, and it happened!”
Joseph Is Called to Explain the Dreams
14So Pharaoh called Joseph from the prison. The guards quickly got Joseph out of prison. Joseph shaved, put on some clean clothes, and went to see Pharaoh. 15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can explain it for me. I heard that you can explain dreams when someone tells you about them.”
16Joseph answered, “I cannot! But God can explain the dream for you, Pharaoh.”
17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing by the Nile River. 18Seven cows came up out of the river and stood there eating the grass. They were healthy, good-looking cows. 19Then I saw seven more cows come up out of the river after them, but these cows were thin and looked sick. They were the worst cows I had ever seen anywhere in Egypt! 20The thin, sick cows ate the first healthy cows, 21but they still looked thin and sick. You couldn’t even tell they had eaten the healthy cows. They looked as thin and sick as they did in the beginning. Then I woke up.
22“In my next dream I saw seven heads of grain growing on one plant. They were healthy and full of grain. 23And then seven more heads of grain grew after them, but they were thin and scorched by the hot wind. 24Then the thin heads of grain ate the seven good heads of grain.
“I told these dreams to my magicians. But no one could explain the dreams to me. What do they mean?”
Joseph Explains the Dream
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both of these dreams have the same meaning. God is telling you what will happen soon. 26The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain are seven good years. 27And the seven thin, sick-looking cows and the seven thin heads of grain mean that there will be seven years of hunger in this area. These seven bad years will come after the seven good years. 28God has shown you what will happen soon. He will make these things happen just as I told you. 29For seven years there will be plenty of food in Egypt. 30But then there will be seven years of hunger. The people will forget how much food there had been in Egypt before. This famine will ruin the country. 31It will be so bad that people will forget what it was like to have plenty of food.
32“Pharaoh, you had two dreams about the same thing. That means God wanted to show you that he really will make this happen, and he will make it happen soon! 33So, Pharaoh, you should choose a wise, intelligent man and put him in charge of Egypt. 34Then you should choose other men to collect food from the people. During the seven good years, the people must give them one-fifth of all the food they grow. 35In this way these men will collect all the food during the seven good years and store it in the cities until it is needed. Pharaoh, this food will be under your control. 36Then during the seven years of hunger, there will be food for the country of Egypt. And Egypt will not be destroyed by the famine.”
37This seemed like a very good idea to Pharaoh, and all his officials agreed. 38Then Pharaoh told them, “I don’t think we can find anyone better than Joseph to take this job! God’s Spirit is in him, making him very wise!”
39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “God showed these things to you, so you must be the wisest man. 40I will put you in charge of my country, and the people will obey all your commands. I will be the only one more powerful than you.”
41Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I now make you governor over all of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh gave his special ring to Joseph. The royal seal was on this ring. Pharaoh also gave Joseph a fine linen robe and put a gold chain around his neck. 43Then he told Joseph to ride in his second chariot. Pharaoh’s officials said, “Let him be the governor over the whole land of Egypt!”#41:43 Or “Then Pharaoh had Joseph ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and they said, ‘Bow before Joseph.’ In this way Joseph became the governor over all of Egypt.”
44Then Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, the king over everyone in Egypt, but no one else in Egypt can lift a hand or move a foot unless you say he can.” 45Then Pharaoh gave Joseph another name, Zaphenath Paneah.#41:45 Zaphenath Paneah This Egyptian name probably means “sustainer of life,” but it is like Hebrew words meaning “a person who explains secret things.” He also gave Joseph a wife named Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in the city of On. So Joseph became the governor over the whole country of Egypt.
46Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving the king of Egypt. He traveled throughout the country of Egypt. 47During the seven good years, the crops in Egypt grew very well. 48Joseph saved the food in Egypt during those seven years and stored the food in the cities. In every city he stored grain that grew in the fields around the city. 49Joseph stored so much grain that it was like the sands of the sea. He stored so much grain that it could not be measured.
50Joseph’s wife, Asenath, was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest in the city of On. Before the first year of hunger came, Joseph and Asenath had two sons. 51Joseph named the first son Manasseh.#41:51 Manasseh This is like the Hebrew word meaning “to forget.” He was given this name because Joseph said, “God made me forget all my hard work and everything back home in my father’s house.” 52Joseph named the second son Ephraim.#41:52 Ephraim This name is like the Hebrew word meaning “twice fruitful.” Joseph gave him this name because he said, “I had great troubles, but God has made me successful in everything.”
The Famine Begins
53For seven years people had all the food they needed, but those years ended. 54Then the seven years of hunger began, just as Joseph had said. No food grew anywhere in any of the countries in that area. But in Egypt people had plenty to eat because Joseph had stored the grain. 55The famine began, and the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to the Egyptian people, “Go ask Joseph what to do.”
56There was famine everywhere, so Joseph gave the people grain from the warehouses. He sold the stored grain to the people of Egypt. The famine was bad in Egypt, 57but the famine was bad everywhere. So people from the countries around Egypt had to come to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain.
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