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Genesis 41

41
Joseph’s Rise to Power
1 At the end of two full years#tn Heb “two years, days.” Pharaoh had a dream.#tn Heb “was dreaming.” As he was standing by the Nile, 2 seven fine-looking, fat cows were coming up out of the Nile,#tn Heb “And look, he was standing by the Nile, and look, from the Nile were coming up seven cows, attractive of appearance and fat of flesh.” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the audience to see the dream through Pharaoh’s eyes. and they grazed in the reeds. 3 Then seven bad-looking, thin cows were coming up after them from the Nile,#tn Heb “And look, seven other cows were coming up after them from the Nile, bad of appearance and thin of flesh.” and they stood beside the other cows at the edge of the river.#tn Heb “the Nile.” This has been replaced by “the river” in the translation for stylistic reasons. 4 The bad-looking, thin cows ate the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 Then he fell asleep again and had a second dream: There were seven heads of grain growing#tn Heb “coming up.” on one stalk, healthy#tn Heb “fat.” and good. 6 Then#tn Heb “And look.” seven heads of grain, thin and burned by the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 7 The thin heads swallowed up the seven healthy and full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream.#tn Heb “And look, a dream.”sn Pharaoh’s two dreams, as explained in the following verses, pertained to the economy of Egypt. Because of the Nile River, the land of Egypt weathered all kinds of famines – there was usually grain in Egypt, and if there was grain and water the livestock would flourish. These two dreams, however, indicated that poverty would overtake plenty and that the blessing of the herd and the field would cease.
8 In the morning he#tn Heb “his spirit.” was troubled, so he called for#tn Heb “he sent and called,” which indicates an official summons. all the diviner-priests#tn The Hebrew term חַרְטֹם (khartom) is an Egyptian loanword (hyr-tp) that describes a class of priests who were skilled in such interpretations. of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams,#tn The Hebrew text has the singular (though the Samaritan Pentateuch reads the plural). If retained, the singular must be collective for the set of dreams. Note the plural pronoun “them,” referring to the dreams, in the next clause. However, note that in v. 15 Pharaoh uses the singular to refer to the two dreams. In vv. 17-24 Pharaoh seems to treat the dreams as two parts of one dream (see especially v. 22). but no one could interpret#tn “there was no interpreter.” them for him.#tn Heb “for Pharaoh.” The pronoun “him” has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons. 9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I recall my failures.#tn Heb “sins, offenses.” He probably refers here to the offenses that landed him in prison (see 40:1). 10 Pharaoh was enraged with his servants, and he put me in prison in the house of the captain of the guards – me and the chief baker. 11 We each had a dream one night; each of us had a dream with its own meaning.#tn Heb “and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he, each according to the interpretation of his dream we dreamed.” 12 Now a young man, a Hebrew, a servant#tn Or “slave.” of the captain of the guards,#tn Heb “a servant to the captain of the guards.” On this construction see GKC 419-20 §129.c. was with us there. We told him our dreams,#tn The words “our dreams” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. and he interpreted the meaning of each of our respective dreams for us.#tn Heb “and he interpreted for us our dreams, each according to his dream he interpreted.” 13 It happened just as he had said#tn Heb “interpreted.” to us – Pharaoh#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Pharaoh) has been specified in the translation for clarity. restored me to my office, but he impaled the baker.”#tn Heb “him”; the referent (the baker) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
14 Then Pharaoh summoned#tn Heb “and Pharaoh sent and called,” indicating a summons to the royal court. Joseph. So they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; he shaved himself, changed his clothes, and came before Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream,#tn Heb “dreamed a dream.” and there is no one who can interpret#tn Heb “there is no one interpreting.” it. But I have heard about you, that#tn Heb “saying.” you can interpret dreams.”#tn Heb “you hear a dream to interpret it,” which may mean, “you only have to hear a dream to be able to interpret it.” 16 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power,#tn Heb “not within me.” but God will speak concerning#tn Heb “God will answer.” the welfare of Pharaoh.”#tn The expression שְׁלוֹם פַּרְעֹה (shÿlom par’oh) is here rendered “the welfare of Pharaoh” because the dream will be about life in his land. Some interpret it to mean an answer of “peace” – one that will calm his heart, or give him the answer that he desires (cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT).
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing#tn Heb “In my dream look, I was standing.” The use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) here (and also in vv. 18, 19, 22, 23) invites the hearer (within the context of the narrative, Joseph; but in the broader sense the reader or hearer of the Book of Genesis) to observe the scene through Pharaoh’s eyes. by the edge of the Nile. 18 Then seven fat and fine-looking cows were coming up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the reeds.#tn Heb “and look, from the Nile seven cows were coming up, fat of flesh and attractive of appearance, and they grazed in the reeds.” 19 Then#tn Heb “And look.” seven other cows came up after them; they were scrawny, very bad-looking, and lean. I had never seen such bad-looking cows#tn The word “cows” is supplied here in the translation for stylistic reasons. as these in all the land of Egypt! 20 The lean, bad-looking cows ate up the seven#tn Heb “the seven first fat cows.” fat cows. 21 When they had eaten them,#tn Heb “when they went inside them.” no one would have known#tn Heb “it was not known.” that they had done so, for they were just as bad-looking as before. Then I woke up. 22 I also saw in my dream#tn Heb “and I saw in my dream and look.” seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, full and good. 23 Then#tn Heb “And look.” seven heads of grain, withered and thin and burned with the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads of grain. So I told all this#tn The words “all this” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. to the diviner-priests, but no one could tell me its meaning.”#tn Heb “and there was no one telling me.”
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both dreams of Pharaoh have the same meaning.#tn Heb “the dream of Pharaoh is one.” God has revealed#tn Heb “declared.” to Pharaoh what he is about to do.#tn The active participle here indicates what is imminent. 26 The seven good cows represent seven years, and the seven good heads of grain represent seven years. Both dreams have the same meaning.#tn Heb “one dream it is.” 27 The seven lean, bad-looking cows that came up after them represent seven years, as do the seven empty heads of grain burned with the east wind. They represent#tn Heb “are.” Another option is to translate, “There will be seven years of famine.” seven years of famine. 28 This is just what I told#tn Heb “it is the word that I spoke.” Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the whole land of Egypt. 30 But seven years of famine will occur#tn The perfect with the vav consecutive continues the time frame of the preceding participle, which has an imminent future nuance here. after them, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will devastate#tn The Hebrew verb כָּלָה (kalah) in the Piel stem means “to finish, to destroy, to bring an end to.” The severity of the famine will ruin the land of Egypt. the land. 31 The previous abundance of the land will not be remembered#tn Heb “known.” because of the famine that follows, for the famine will be very severe.#tn Or “heavy.” 32 The dream was repeated to Pharaoh#tn Heb “and concerning the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh two times.” The Niphal infinitive here is the object of the preposition; it is followed by the subjective genitive “of the dream.” because the matter has been decreed#tn Heb “established.” by God, and God will make it happen soon.#tn The clause combines a participle and an infinitive construct: God “is hurrying…to do it,” meaning he is going to do it soon.
33 “So now Pharaoh should look#tn Heb “let Pharaoh look.” The jussive form expresses Joseph’s advice to Pharaoh. for a wise and discerning man#tn Heb “a man discerning and wise.” The order of the terms is rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons. and give him authority#tn Heb “and let him set him.” over all the land of Egypt. 34 Pharaoh should do#tn The imperfect verbal form has an obligatory nuance here. The Samaritan Pentateuch has a jussive form here, “and let [Pharaoh] do.” this – he should appoint#tn Heb “and let him appoint.” The jussive form expresses Joseph’s advice to Pharaoh. officials#tn Heb “appointees.” The noun is a cognate accusative of the preceding verb. Since “appoint appointees” would be redundant in English, the term “officials” was used in the translation instead. throughout the land to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt#tn Heb “and he shall collect a fifth of the land of Egypt.” The language is figurative (metonymy); it means what the land produces, i.e., the harvest. during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should gather all the excess food#tn Heb “all the food.” during these good years that are coming. By Pharaoh’s authority#tn Heb “under the hand of Pharaoh.” they should store up grain so the cities will have food,#tn Heb “[for] food in the cities.” The noun translated “food” is an adverbial accusative in the sentence. and they should preserve it.#tn The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries the same force as the sequence of jussives before it. 36 This food should be held in storage for the land in preparation for the seven years of famine that will occur throughout the land of Egypt. In this way the land will survive the famine.”#tn Heb “and the land will not be cut off in the famine.”
37 This advice made sense to Pharaoh and all his officials.#tn Heb “and the matter was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.” 38 So Pharaoh asked his officials, “Can we find a man like Joseph,#tn Heb “like this,” but the referent could be misunderstood to be a man like that described by Joseph in v. 33, rather than Joseph himself. For this reason the proper name “Joseph” has been supplied in the translation. one in whom the Spirit of God is present?”#tn The rhetorical question expects the answer “No, of course not!” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Because God has enabled you to know all this, there is no one as wise and discerning#tn Heb “as discerning and wise.” The order has been rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons. as you are! 40 You will oversee my household, and all my people will submit to your commands.#tn Heb “and at your mouth (i.e., instructions) all my people will kiss.” G. J. Wenham translates this “shall kowtow to your instruction” (Genesis [WBC], 2:395). Although there is some textual support for reading “will be judged, ruled by you,” this is probably an attempt to capture the significance of this word. Wenham lists a number of references where individuals have tried to make connections with other words or expressions – such as a root meaning “order themselves” lying behind “kiss,” or an idiomatic idea of “kiss” meaning “seal the mouth,” and so “be silent and submit to.” See K. A. Kitchen, “The Term Nsq in Genesis 41:40,” ExpTim 69 (1957): 30; D. S. Sperling, “Genesis 41:40: A New Interpretation,” JANESCU 10 (1978): 113-19. Only I, the king, will be greater than you.#tn Heb “only the throne, I will be greater than you.”
41 “See here,” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I place#tn The translation assumes that the perfect verbal form is descriptive of a present action. Another option is to understand it as rhetorical, in which case Pharaoh describes a still future action as if it had already occurred in order to emphasize its certainty. In this case one could translate “I have placed” or “I will place.” The verb נָתַן (natan) is translated here as “to place in authority [over].” you in authority over all the land of Egypt.”#sn Joseph became the grand vizier of the land of Egypt. See W. A. Ward, “The Egyptian Office of Joseph,” JSS 5 (1960): 144-50; and R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 129-31. 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his own hand and put it on Joseph’s. He clothed him with fine linen#tn The Hebrew word שֵׁשׁ (shesh) is an Egyptian loanword that describes the fine linen robes that Egyptian royalty wore. The clothing signified Joseph’s rank. clothes and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 Pharaoh#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Pharaoh) has been specified in the translation for clarity. had him ride in the chariot used by his second-in-command,#tn Heb “and he caused him to ride in the second chariot which was his.” and they cried out before him, “Kneel down!”#tn The verb form appears to be a causative imperative from a verbal root meaning “to kneel.” It is a homonym of the word “bless” (identical in root letters but not related etymologically). So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your permission#tn Heb “apart from you.” no one#tn Heb “no man,” but here “man” is generic, referring to people in general. will move his hand or his foot#tn The idiom “lift up hand or foot” means “take any action” here. in all the land of Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah.#sn The meaning of Joseph’s Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah, is uncertain. Many recent commentators have followed the proposal of G. Steindorff that it means “the god has said, ‘he will live’” (“Der Name Josephs Saphenat-Pa‘neach,” ZÄS 31 [1889]: 41-42); others have suggested “the god speaks and lives” (see BDB 861 s.v. צָפְנָת פַּעְנֵחַ); “the man he knows” (J. Vergote, Joseph en Égypte, 145); or “Joseph [who is called] áIp-àankh” (K. A. Kitchen, NBD3 1262). He also gave him Asenath#sn The name Asenath may mean “she belongs to the goddess Neit” (see HALOT 74 s.v. אָֽסְנַת). A novel was written at the beginning of the first century entitled Joseph and Asenath, which included a legendary account of the conversion of Asenath to Joseph’s faith in Yahweh. However, all that can be determined from this chapter is that their children received Hebrew names. See also V. Aptowitzer, “Asenath, the Wife of Joseph – a Haggadic Literary-Historical Study,” HUCA 1 (1924): 239-306. daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,#sn On (also in v. 50) is another name for the city of Heliopolis. to be his wife. So Joseph took charge of#tn Heb “and he passed through.” all the land of Egypt.
46 Now Joseph was 30 years old#tn Heb “a son of thirty years.” when he began serving#tn Heb “when he stood before.” Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph was commissioned by#tn Heb “went out from before.” Pharaoh and was in charge of#tn Heb “and he passed through all the land of Egypt”; this phrase is interpreted by JPS to mean that Joseph “emerged in charge of the whole land.” all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced large, bountiful harvests.#tn Heb “brought forth by handfuls.” 48 Joseph#tn Heb “he”; the referent (Joseph) has been specified in the translation for clarity. collected all the excess food#tn Heb “all the food.” in the land of Egypt during the seven years and stored it in the cities.#tn Heb “of the seven years which were in the land of Egypt and placed food in the cities.” In every city he put the food gathered from the fields around it. 49 Joseph stored up a vast amount of grain, like the sand of the sea,#tn Heb “and Joseph gathered grain like the sand of the sea, multiplying much.” To emphasize the vast amount of grain he stored up, the Hebrew text modifies the verb “gathered” with an infinitive absolute and an adverb. until he stopped measuring it because it was impossible to measure.
50 Two sons were born to Joseph before the famine came.#tn Heb “before the year of the famine came.” Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, was their mother.#tn Heb “gave birth for him.” 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh,#sn The name Manasseh (מְנַשֶּׁה, mÿnasheh) describes God’s activity on behalf of Joseph, explaining in general the significance of his change of fortune. The name is a Piel participle, suggesting the meaning “he who brings about forgetfulness.” The Hebrew verb נַשַּׁנִי (nashani) may have been used instead of the normal נִשַּׁנִי (nishani) to provide a closer sound play with the name. The giving of this Hebrew name to his son shows that Joseph retained his heritage and faith; and it shows that a brighter future was in store for him. saying,#tn The word “saying” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. “Certainly#tn Or “for.” God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” 52 He named the second child Ephraim,#sn The name Ephraim (אֶפְרַיִם, ’efrayim), a form of the Hebrew verb פָּרָה (parah), means “to bear fruit.” The theme of fruitfulness is connected with this line of the family from Rachel (30:2) on down (see Gen 49:22, Deut 33:13-17, and Hos 13:15). But there is some difficulty with the name “Ephraim” itself. It appears to be a dual, for which F. Delitzsch simply said it meant “double fruitfulness” (New Commentary on Genesis, 2:305). G. J. Spurrell suggested it was a diphthongal pronunciation of a name ending in -an or -am, often thought to be dual suffixes (Notes on the text of the book of Genesis, 334). Many, however, simply connect the name to the territory of Ephraim and interpret it to be “fertile land” (C. Fontinoy, “Les noms de lieux en -ayim dans la Bible,” UF 3 [1971]: 33-40). The dual would then be an old locative ending. There is no doubt that the name became attached to the land in which the tribe settled, and it is possible that is where the dual ending came from, but in this story it refers to Joseph’s God-given fruitfulness. saying,#tn The word “saying” has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons. “Certainly#tn Or “for.” God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”
53 The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end. 54 Then the seven years of famine began,#tn Heb “began to arrive.” just as Joseph had predicted. There was famine in all the other lands, but throughout the land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all the land of Egypt experienced the famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to all the people of Egypt,#tn Heb “to all Egypt.” The name of the country is used by metonymy for the inhabitants. “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”
56 While the famine was over all the earth,#tn Or “over the entire land”; Heb “over all the face of the earth.” The disjunctive clause is circumstantial-temporal to the next clause. Joseph opened the storehouses#tc The MT reads “he opened all that was in [or “among”] them.” The translation follows the reading of the LXX and Syriac versions. and sold grain to the Egyptians. The famine was severe throughout the land of Egypt. 57 People from every country#tn Heb “all the earth,” which refers here (by metonymy) to the people of the earth. Note that the following verb is plural in form, indicating that the inhabitants of the earth are in view. came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the famine was severe throughout the earth.
41
Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams
1After two full years Pharaoh had a dream. He dreamed he was standing by the Nile River. 2Suddenly, seven nice-looking, well-fed cows came up from the river and began to graze among the reeds. 3Seven other cows came up from the river behind them. These cows were sickly and skinny. They stood behind the first seven cows on the riverbank. 4The cows that were sickly and skinny ate the seven nice-looking, well-fed cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5He fell asleep again and had a second dream. Seven good, healthy heads of grain were growing on a single stalk. 6Seven other heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted behind them. 7The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven full, healthy heads. Then Pharaoh woke up. It was only a dream.
8In the morning he was so upset that he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could tell him what they meant.
9Then the chief cupbearer  #41:9 A cupbearer was a trusted royal official who ensured that the king’s drink was not poisoned. spoke to Pharaoh, “I remember a promise I failed to keep. 10Some time ago when Pharaoh was angry with his servants, he confined me and the chief baker to the captain of the guard’s prison. 11We both had dreams the same night. Each dream had its own meaning. 12A young Hebrew, a slave of the captain of the guard, was with us. We told him our dreams, and he told each of us what they meant. 13What he told us happened: Pharaoh restored me to my position, but he hung the baker on a pole.”
14Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and immediately he was brought from the prison. After he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came in front of Pharaoh.
15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can tell me what it means. I heard that when you are told a dream, you can say what it means.”
16Joseph answered Pharaoh, “I can’t, but God can give Pharaoh the answer that he needs.”
17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18Suddenly, seven nice-looking, well-fed cows came up from the river and began to graze among the reeds. 19Seven other cows came up behind them. These cows were scrawny, very sick, and thin. I’ve never seen such sickly cows in all of Egypt! 20The thin, sickly cows ate up the seven well-fed ones. 21Even though they had eaten them, no one could tell they had eaten them. They looked just as sick as before. Then I woke up.
22“In my second dream I saw seven good, full heads of grain growing on a single stalk. 23Seven other heads of grain, withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind, sprouted behind them. 24The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but no one could tell me what it meant.”
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh had the same dream twice. God has told Pharaoh what he’s going to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years. It’s all the same dream. 27The seven thin, sickly cows that came up behind them are seven years. The seven empty heads of grain scorched by the east wind are also seven years. Seven years of famine are coming.
28“It’s just as I said to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what he’s going to do. 29Seven years are coming when there will be plenty of food in Egypt. 30After them will come seven years of famine. People will forget that there was plenty of food in Egypt, and the famine will ruin the land. 31People won’t remember that there once was plenty of food in the land, because the coming famine will be so severe. 32The reason Pharaoh has had a recurring dream is because the matter has been definitely decided by God, and he will do it very soon.
Joseph Advises Pharaoh
33“Pharaoh should look for a wise and intelligent man and put him in charge of Egypt. 34Make arrangements to appoint supervisors over the land to take a fifth of Egypt’s harvest during the seven good years. 35Have them collect all the food during these good years and store up grain under Pharaoh’s control, to be kept for food in the cities. 36This food will be a reserve supply for our country during the seven years of famine that will happen in Egypt. Then the land will not be ruined by the famine.”
37Pharaoh and all his servants liked the idea. 38So Pharaoh asked his servants, “Can we find anyone like this—a man who has God’s Spirit in him?”
39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Because God has let you know all this, there is no one as wise and intelligent as you. 40You will be in charge of my palace, and all my people will do what you say. I will be more important than you, only because I’m Pharaoh.”
41Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I now put you in charge of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. He had Joseph dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43He had him ride in the chariot of the second-in-command. Men ran ahead of him and shouted, “Make way!” Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of Egypt.
44He also said to Joseph, “Even though I am Pharaoh, no one anywhere in Egypt will do anything without your permission.” 45Pharaoh named Joseph Zaphenathpaneah and gave him Asenath as his wife. She was the daughter of Potiphera, priest from the city of On. Joseph traveled around Egypt.
Joseph Serves Pharaoh
46Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh (the king of Egypt). He left Pharaoh and traveled all around Egypt. 47During the seven good years the land produced large harvests. 48Joseph collected all the food grown in Egypt during those seven years and put this food in the cities. In each city he put the food from the fields around it. 49Joseph stored up grain in huge quantities like the sand on the seashore. He had so much that he finally gave up keeping any records because he couldn’t measure it all.
50Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest from the city of On. 51Joseph named his firstborn son Manasseh [He Helps Me Forget], because God helped him forget all his troubles and all about his father’s family. 52He named the second son Ephraim [Blessed Twice With Children], because God gave him children in the land where he had suffered.
53The seven years when there was plenty of food in Egypt came to an end. 54Then the seven years of famine began as Joseph had said they would. All the other countries were experiencing famine. Yet, there was food in Egypt. 55When everyone in Egypt began to feel the effects of the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. But Pharaoh said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph! Do what he tells you!”
56When the famine had spread all over the country, Joseph opened all the storehouses  #41:56 Greek, Syriac; Masoretic Text “all that was in them.” and sold grain to the Egyptians. He did this because the famine was severe in Egypt. 57The whole world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, since the famine was so severe all over the world.