Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams
1At the end of two years Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing beside the Nile,#Gn 41:17–23 2when seven healthy-looking, well-fed cows came up from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds. 3After them, seven other cows, sickly and thin, came up from the Nile and stood beside those cows along the bank of the Nile. 4The sickly, thin cows ate the healthy, well-fed cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5He fell asleep and dreamed a second time: Seven heads of grain, plump and good, came up on one stalk. 6After them, seven heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up. 7The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven plump, full ones. Then Pharaoh woke up, and it was only a dream.
8When morning came, he was troubled,#Dn 2:1,3 so he summoned all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men.#Ex 7:11,22; Dn 1:20; 2:2 Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I remember my faults. 10Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and he put me and the chief baker in the custody of the captain of the guards. 11He and I had dreams on the same night; each dream had its own meaning. 12Now a young Hebrew, a slave of the captain of the guards, was with us there. We told him our dreams, he interpreted our dreams for us, and each had its own interpretation. 13It turned out just the way he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.”#Gn 40:1–22
14Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the dungeon.#41:14 Or pit, or cistern#Ps 105:20 He shaved, changed his clothes, and went to Pharaoh.#Dn 2:25
15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it.”#Dn 5:16
16“I am not able to,”#Dn 2:30 Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”#41:16 Or “God will answer Pharaoh with peace of mind.”#Gn 40:8; Dn 2:22,28,47
17So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when seven well-fed, healthy-looking cows came up from the Nile and grazed among the reeds. 19After them, seven other cows — weak, very sickly, and thin — came up. I’ve never seen such sickly ones as these in all the land of Egypt. 20Then the thin, sickly cows ate the first seven well-fed cows. 21When they had devoured them, you could not tell that they had devoured them; their appearance was as bad as it had been before. Then I woke up. 22In my dream I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, coming up on one stalk. 23After them, seven heads of grain — withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind — sprouted up. 24The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven good ones. I told this to the magicians, but no one can tell me what it means.”#Is 8:19; Dn 4:7
25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.#Dn 2:28–29,45; Rv 4:1 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years. The dreams mean the same thing. 27The seven thin, sickly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind are seven years of famine.#2Kg 8:1
28“It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt. 30After them, seven years of famine will take place, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land.#Gn 41:54,56; 47:13; Ps 105:16 31The abundance in the land will not be remembered because of the famine that follows it, for the famine will be very severe. 32Since the dream was given twice to Pharaoh, it means that the matter has been determined by God, and he will carry it out soon.
33“So now, let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh do this: Let him appoint overseers over the land and take a fifth of the harvest of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35Let them gather all the excess food during these good years that are coming. Under Pharaoh’s authority, store the grain in the cities, so they may preserve it as food. 36The food will be a reserve for the land during the seven years of famine that will take place in the land of Egypt. Then the country will not be wiped out by the famine.”
37The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants, 38and he said to them, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit#41:38 Or the spirit of the gods, or a god’s spirit in him?” #Jb 32:8; Dn 4:8,9,18; 5:11,14 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 will be over my house, and all my people will obey your commands.#41:40 Lit will kiss your mouth#Ps 105:21; Ac 7:10 Only I, as king,#41:40 Lit Only the throne I will be greater than you.” 41Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “See, I am placing you over all the land of Egypt.” 42Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, clothed him with fine linen garments, and placed a gold chain around his neck.#Est 3:10; 8:2; Dn 5:7,16,29 43He had Joseph ride in his second chariot, and servants called out before him, “Make way!” #41:43 Or “Kneel!” So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 44Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh and no one will be able to raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt without your permission.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah and gave him a wife, Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On.#41:45 Or Heliopolis, also in v. 50 And Joseph went throughout#41:45 Or Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.
46Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout the land of Egypt.
47During the seven years of abundance the land produced outstanding harvests. 48Joseph gathered all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and put it in the cities. He put the food in every city from the fields around it. 49So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance — like the sand of the sea — that he stopped measuring it because it was beyond measure.
50Two sons were born to Joseph before the years of famine arrived.#Gn 46:20; 48:5 Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On, bore them to him. 51Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh#41:51 In Hb, the name Manasseh sounds like the verb “forget.” and said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and my whole family.” 52And the second son he named Ephraim#41:52 In Hb, the name Ephraim sounds like the word for “fruitful.” and said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
53Then the seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every land, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55When the whole land of Egypt was stricken with famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh told all Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56Now the famine had spread across the whole region, so Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57Every land came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, for the famine was severe in every land.#Gn 12:10