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Genesis 41

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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.
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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.