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Genesis 41

41
Pharaoh Has Two Dreams
1When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream. In his dream, he was standing by the Nile River. 2Seven cows came up out of the river. They looked healthy and fat. They were eating some of the tall grass growing along the river. 3After them, seven other cows came up out of the Nile. They looked ugly and skinny. They were standing beside the other cows on the riverbank. 4The ugly, skinny cows ate up the seven cows that looked healthy and fat. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5He fell asleep again and had a second dream. In that dream, seven heads of grain were growing on one stem. They were healthy and good. 6After them, seven other heads of grain came up. They were thin and dried up by the east wind. 7The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up. It had been a dream.
8In the morning he was worried. So 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 wine taster spoke up. He said to Pharaoh, “Now I remember that I’ve done something wrong. 10Pharaoh was once angry with his servants. He put me and the chief baker in prison. We were in the house of the captain of the palace guard. 11Each of us had a dream the same night. Each dream had its own meaning. 12A young Hebrew servant was there with us. He was a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams. And he explained them to us. He told each of us the meaning of our dreams. 13Things turned out exactly as he said they would. I was given back my job. The other man had a pole stuck through his body.”
14So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. He was quickly brought out of the prison. Joseph shaved and changed his clothes. Then he came to Pharaoh.
15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream. No one can tell me what it means. But I’ve heard that when you hear a dream you can explain it.”
16“I can’t do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh. “But God will give Pharaoh the answer he wants.”
17Then Pharaoh told Joseph what he had dreamed. He said, “I was standing on the bank of the Nile River. 18Seven cows came up out of the river. They were fat and looked healthy. They were eating the tall grass growing along the river. 19After them, seven other cows came up. They were bony and very ugly and thin. I had never seen such ugly cows in the whole land of Egypt. 20The thin, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21But no one could tell that the thin cows had eaten the fat cows. That’s because the thin cows looked just as ugly as they had before. Then I woke up.
22“In my dream I also saw seven heads of grain. They were full and good. They were all growing on one stem. 23After them, seven other heads of grain came up. They were weak and thin and dried up by the east wind. 24The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told my dream to the magicians. But none of them could explain it to me.”
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years. And the seven good heads of grain are seven years. Both dreams mean the same thing. 27The seven thin, ugly cows that came up later are seven years. So are the seven worthless heads of grain dried up by the east wind. They are seven years when there won’t be enough food.
28“It’s just as I said to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what he’s about to do. 29Seven years with plenty of food are coming to the whole land of Egypt. 30But seven years when there won’t be enough food will follow them. Then everyone will forget about all the food Egypt had. Terrible hunger will destroy the land. 31There won’t be anything left to remind people of the years when there was plenty of food in the land. That’s how bad the hunger that follows will be. 32God gave the dream to Pharaoh in two forms. That’s because the matter has been firmly decided by God. And it’s because God will do it soon.
33“So Pharaoh should look for a wise and understanding man. He should put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Pharaoh should appoint officials to be in charge of the land. They should take a fifth of the harvest in Egypt during the seven years when there’s plenty of food. 35They should collect all the extra food of the good years that are coming. Pharaoh should give them authority to store up the grain. They should keep it in the cities for food. 36The grain should be stored up for the country to use later. It will be needed during the seven years when there isn’t enough food in Egypt. Then the country won’t be destroyed just because it doesn’t have enough food.”
37The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and all his officials. 38So Pharaoh said to them, “The spirit of God is in this man. We can’t find anyone else like him, can we?”
39Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “God has made all this known to you. No one is as wise and understanding as you are. 40You will be in charge of my palace. All my people must obey your orders. I will be greater than you only because I’m the one who sits on the throne.”
Joseph Is Put in Charge of Egypt
41So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I’m putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh took from his finger the ring he used to give his official stamp. He put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes made out of fine linen. He put a gold chain around Joseph’s neck. 43He also had him ride in a chariot. Joseph was now next in command after Pharaoh. People went in front of Joseph and shouted, “Get down on your knees!” By doing all these things, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
44Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh. But unless you give an order, no one will do anything in the whole land of Egypt.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He gave Joseph a wife. She was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera. Potiphera was the priest of On. Joseph traveled all over the land of Egypt.
46Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. He left Pharaoh’s palace and traveled all over Egypt. 47During the seven years there was plenty of food. The land produced more than the people needed. 48Joseph collected all the extra food produced in those seven years in Egypt. He stored it in the cities. In each city he stored up the food grown in the fields around it. 49Joseph stored up huge amounts of grain. There was as much of it as sand by the sea. There was so much grain it couldn’t be measured. So Joseph stopped keeping records of it.
50Before the years when there wasn’t enough food, two sons were born to Joseph. He had them by Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera. Potiphera was the priest of On. 51Joseph named his first son Manasseh. That’s because he said, “God has made me forget all my trouble and my father’s whole family.” 52He named the second son Ephraim. That’s because he said, “God has given me children in the land where I’ve suffered so much.”
53The seven years when there was plenty of food in Egypt came to an end. 54Then the seven years when there wasn’t enough food began. It happened just as Joseph had said it would. There wasn’t enough food in any of the other lands. But in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55When all the people of Egypt began to get hungry, they cried out to Pharaoh for food. He told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you.”
56There wasn’t enough food anywhere in the country. So Joseph opened the storerooms. He sold grain to the Egyptians because people were very hungry all over Egypt. 57People from all over the world came to Egypt. They came to buy grain from Joseph. That’s because people were very hungry everywhere.
41
1A full two years later, Pharaoh had a dream that he was standing beside the River Nile. 2He saw seven cows coming up from the river. They looked well-fed and healthy as they grazed among the reeds. 3Then he saw another seven cows that came up behind them. They looked ugly and skinny as they stood beside the other cows on the bank of the Nile. 4Then the ugly, skinny cows ate the well-fed, healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5Pharaoh fell asleep again and had a second dream. Seven heads of grain were growing on one stalk, ripe and healthy. 6Then seven heads of grain grew up after them, thin and dried by the east wind. 7The seven thin and dried heads of grain swallowed up the ripe and healthy ones. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized he'd been dreaming.
8The next morning Pharaoh was worried by his dreams,#41:8. “By his dreams”: supplied for clarity. so he sent for all the magicians and wise men in Egypt. Pharaoh told them about his dreams, but no one could interpret their meaning for him.
9But then the chief cupbearer spoke up. “Today I've just remembered a bad mistake I've made,” he explained. 10“Your Majesty was angry with some of your officials and you imprisoned me in the house of the commander of the guard, along with the chief baker. 11We each had a dream. They were different dreams, each with its own meaning. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a slave of the commander of the guard. When we told him our dreams, he interpreted for us the meaning of our different dreams. 13Everything happened just as he said it would—I was given back my job and the baker was hanged.”
14Pharaoh summoned Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the prison. After he'd shaved and changed his clothes, he was presented to Pharaoh.
15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, but no one can interpret its meaning. But I've heard that when someone tells you a dream you know how to interpret it.”
16“It's not me who can do this,” Joseph replied. “But God will explain its meaning to set Your Majesty's mind at rest.”
17Pharaoh explained to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18I saw seven cows coming up from the river. They looked well-fed and healthy as they grazed among the reeds. 19Then I saw another seven cows that came up behind them. They looked sickly and ugly and skinny—I've never seen such ugly cows in the whole of Egypt! 20These skinny, ugly cows ate the first seven healthy-looking cows. 21But afterwards you couldn't tell they'd eaten them because they looked just as skinny and ugly as before. Then I woke up.
22Then I fell asleep again. In my second dream I saw seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, ripe and healthy. 23Then seven heads of grain grew up after them, withered and thin and dried by the east wind. 24The seven thin heads of grain swallowed up the healthy ones. I told all this to the magicians, but none of them could explain its meaning to me.”
25“Pharaoh's dreams mean the same thing,” Joseph responded. “God is telling Pharaoh what he is going to do. 26The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain represent seven good years of harvest.#41:26. “Of harvest”: supplied for clarity. The dreams mean the same thing. 27The seven skinny and ugly cows that came after them and the seven thin heads of grain dried by the east wind represent seven years of famine. 28It's just as I told Your Majesty—God has shown Pharaoh what he is going to do. 29There are going to be seven years with plenty of food produced throughout the whole country of Egypt. 30But after them will come seven years of famine. People will forget the time when there was plenty of food throughout Egypt. Famine will ruin the country. 31The time of plenty will be completely forgotten because the famine that follows it will be so terrible. 32The fact that the dream was repeated twice means that it has definitely been decided by God, and that God is going to do this soon.
33So Your Majesty should choose a man with insight and wisdom, and put him in charge of the whole country of Egypt. 34Your Majesty should also appoint officials to be in charge of the land, and have them collect one-fifth of the produce of the country during the seven years of plenty. 35They should collect all the food during the good years that are soon coming, and store the grain under Pharaoh's authority, keeping it under guard to provide food for the towns. 36This will be a food reserve for the country during the seven years of famine so that the people won't die of starvation.”
37Pharaoh and all his officials thought Joseph's proposal was a good idea. 38So Pharaoh asked them, “Where can we find a man like this who has the spirit of God in him?” 39Then Pharaoh spoke to Joseph, telling him, “Since God has revealed to you all this, and there's no one like you with such insight and wisdom, 40you will be in charge of all my affairs, and all my people will obey your orders. Only I with my status as king#41:40. “My status as king”: literally “the throne.” will be greater than you.”
41Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Look, I'm putting you in charge of the whole country of Egypt.” 42Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in fine linen clothes and placed a golden chain around his neck. 43He had Joseph ride in the chariot designated for his second-in-command while his attendants went ahead, shouting, “Bow down!”#41:43. “Bow down!” This Egyptian loan word is variously translated: “Attention!” “Make way!” “Praise!” “Do homage!” All relate to honoring a dignitary. This is how Pharaoh gave Joseph authority over all of Egypt.
44Then Pharaoh told Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your permission nobody will lift a hand or a foot anywhere in the whole country.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah,#41:45. Meaning “The God speaks and he (the subject) lives.” and arranged for him to marry Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. This is how Joseph rose to power over the whole of Egypt.
46Joseph was thirty when he started working for Pharaoh, king of Egypt. After he had left Pharaoh, Joseph traveled on an inspection tour#41:46. “On an inspection tour”: supplied for clarity. throughout Egypt. 47During the seven years of good harvests, the land produced plenty of food. 48He collected all the food during the seven good years, and he stored the grain produced in the local fields in each town. 49Joseph piled up so much grain that it was like the sand of the seashore. Eventually he stopped keeping records because there was just so much!
50It was during this time, before the years of famine came, that Joseph had two sons by Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh,#41:51. “Manasseh” means “cause to forget.” because he said, “The Lord has made me forget all my troubles and all my father's family.” 52His second son he named Ephraim,#41:52. “Ephraim” means “fruitful.” because he said, “God has made me fruitful in the country of my misery.”
53The seven years of plenty in Egypt came to an end, 54and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other countries but the whole of Egypt had food. 55When all of Egypt was hungry, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food, and he told everyone, “Go and see Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56The famine had spread all over the country so Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the people of Egypt. The famine was very bad in Egypt, 57in fact the famine was very bad everywhere, so people from other countries all around came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph.