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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
1-4Two years passed and Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile River. Seven cows came up out of the Nile, all shimmering with health, and grazed on the marsh grass. Then seven other cows, all skin and bones, came up out of the river after them and stood by them on the bank of the Nile. The skinny cows ate the seven healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5-7He went back to sleep and dreamed a second time: Seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, grew out of a single stalk. Then seven more ears grew up, but these were thin and dried out by the east wind. The thin ears swallowed up the full, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up—another dream.
8When morning came, he was upset. He sent for all the magicians and sages of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but they couldn’t interpret them to him.
9-13The head cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, “I just now remembered something—I’m sorry, I should have told you this long ago. Once when Pharaoh got angry with his servants, he locked me and the head baker in the house of the captain of the guard. We both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning. It so happened that there was a young Hebrew slave there with us; he belonged to the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us, each dream separately. Things turned out just as he interpreted. I was returned to my position and the head baker was impaled.”
14Pharaoh at once sent for Joseph. They brought him on the run from the jail cell. He cut his hair, put on clean clothes, and came to Pharaoh.
15“I dreamed a dream,” Pharaoh told Joseph. “Nobody can interpret it. But I’ve heard that just by hearing a dream you can interpret it.”
16Joseph answered, “Not I, but God. God will set Pharaoh’s mind at ease.”
17-21Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. Seven cows, shimmering with health, came up out of the river and grazed on the marsh grass. On their heels seven more cows, all skin and bones, came up. I’ve never seen uglier cows anywhere in Egypt. Then the seven skinny, ugly cows ate up the first seven healthy cows. But you couldn’t tell by looking—after eating them up they were just as skinny and ugly as before. Then I woke up.
22-24“In my second dream I saw seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, growing out of a single stalk, and right behind them, seven other ears, shriveled, thin, and dried out by the east wind. And the thin ears swallowed up the full ears. I’ve told all this to the magicians but they can’t figure it out.”
25-27Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s two dreams both mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh what he is going to do. The seven healthy cows are seven years and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years—they’re the same dream. The seven sick and ugly cows that followed them up are seven years and the seven scrawny ears of grain dried out by the east wind are the same—seven years of famine.
28-32“The meaning is what I said earlier: God is letting Pharaoh in on what he is going to do. Seven years of plenty are on their way throughout Egypt. But on their heels will come seven years of famine, leaving no trace of the Egyptian plenty. As the country is emptied by famine, there won’t be even a scrap left of the previous plenty—the famine will be total. The fact that Pharaoh dreamed the same dream twice emphasizes God’s determination to do this and do it soon.
33-36“So, Pharaoh needs to look for a wise and experienced man and put him in charge of the country. Then Pharaoh needs to appoint managers throughout the country of Egypt to organize it during the years of plenty. Their job will be to collect all the food produced in the good years ahead and stockpile the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, storing it in the towns for food. This grain will be held back to be used later during the seven years of famine that are coming on Egypt. This way the country won’t be devastated by the famine.”
37This seemed like a good idea to Pharaoh and his officials.
38Then Pharaoh said to his officials, “Isn’t this the man we need? Are we going to find anyone else who has God’s spirit in him like this?”
39-40So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “You’re the man for us. God has given you the inside story—no one is as qualified as you in experience and wisdom. From now on, you’re in charge of my affairs; all my people will report to you. Only as king will I be over you.”
41-43So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: “I’m putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his finger and slipped it on Joseph’s hand. He outfitted him in robes of the best linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He put the second-in-command chariot at his disposal, and as he rode people shouted “Bravo!”
Joseph was in charge of the entire country of Egypt.
44Pharaoh told Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but no one in Egypt will make a single move without your stamp of approval.”
45Then Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah (God Speaks and He Lives). He also gave him an Egyptian wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On (Heliopolis).
And Joseph took up his duties over the land of Egypt.
46Joseph was thirty years old when he went to work for Pharaoh the king of Egypt. As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he began his work in Egypt.
47-49During the next seven years of plenty the land produced bumper crops. Joseph gathered up the food of the seven good years in Egypt and stored the food in cities. In each city he stockpiled surplus from the surrounding fields. Joseph collected so much grain—it was like the sand of the ocean!—that he finally quit keeping track.
50-52Joseph had two sons born to him before the years of famine came. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, was their mother. Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, “God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home.” He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, “God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow.”
53-54Then Egypt’s seven good years came to an end and the seven years of famine arrived, just as Joseph had said. All countries experienced famine; Egypt was the only country that had bread.
55When the famine spread throughout Egypt, the people called out in distress to Pharaoh, calling for bread. He told the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you.”
56-57As the famine got worse all over the country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold emergency supplies to the Egyptians. The famine was very bad. Soon the whole world was coming to buy supplies from Joseph. The famine was bad all over.