Genesis Chapter 41: Pharaoh’s Dream and Fulfillment, Joseph’s Promotion

Mar 13th, 2010 | By | Category: Genesis, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

Genesis Chapter 41:  Pharaoh’s Dream and Fulfillment, Joseph’s Promotion

Gen. 41:1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

Two full years elapsed from the time Joseph interpreted the butler’s and the baker’s dreams to the time he was summoned by Pharaoh. Joseph had asked the butler to remember him when he was restored to favor three days later, but the butler forgot. These two years would have been harder to wait than all the previous years because of Joseph’s anticipation, expectation, and hope that he would be remembered and subsequently released. The two years gave Joseph tremendous character development and discipline because he was rightly exercised.

Two full years meant that it was again Pharaoh’s birthday (see Gen. 40:20).

Gen. 41:2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven wellfavoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

Gen. 41:3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

Gen. 41:4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven wellfavoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

Gen. 41:5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

Gen. 41:6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

Gen. 41:7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

Pharaoh had two dreams: (1) One dream pertained to seven fat-fleshed cows (“kine”) and seven lean cows that came up out of the (Nile) river. (2) In the other dream were seven full ears of wheat, or grain (“corn”), and seven withered ears.

In Pharaoh’s dreams, the seven cows and seven ears represented seven years. In the previous chapter, three branches and three baskets represented three days. (Note: Years are the usual interpretation of symbolisms, not days.)

Imagine having these dreams! In the first dream, seven lean cows ate up seven fat cows, yet remained skinny. Also, the dream was contrary to nature, for cows are not carnivorous. In the second dream, seven ears of withered corn ate up seven ears of full corn, yet remained withered.

Again the dream was startling. Back there dreams were very significant, just as they were in the early Church.

The chief butler and the chief baker each had a dream the same night. Pharaoh had his two dreams the same night.

Gen. 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

The next morning Pharaoh was troubled about the dreams. He wanted to know their meaning, so he sent for all the wise men and magicians of Egypt. When Pharaoh related the dreams, none of them could interpret; that is, they may have tried to give an interpretation, but their explanations did not ring true.

We are reminded of Daniel, who was also a Hebrew. King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and was troubled because he did not know its meaning (Daniel chapter 2). He was going to put all the magicians of Babylon to death because they could not tell his dream and interpret it. Then he summoned Daniel, who prayed, as did the three Hebrew children with him. Daniel both related and interpreted the dream of the great image with the head of gold, etc. A similarity in the two situations was that both Daniel and Joseph interpreted the ruler’s dream after the magicians and wise men could not do so.

Dreams were important back there, for it was one way the truth about God got noised around. Today we have a written Bible, and we walk by faith, not by sight.

Gen. 41:9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:

At this point, the butler remembered Joseph in prison and his ability to interpret dreams. The butler said, “I do remember my faults [plural] this day.” In other words, he had not remembered the request to mention Joseph to Pharaoh. Also, there apparently was a justifiable reason for Pharaoh’s earlier anger with the chief butler and for subsequently jailing him.

Gen. 41:10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker:

Gen. 41:11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.

Gen. 41:12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.

Gen. 41:13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.

Gen. 41:14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

Gen. 41:15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

Gen. 41:16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

Once Pharaoh gave the order, Joseph was hastily brought out of prison. In fact, Potiphar himself may have been involved in calling Joseph. The fact that Joseph shaved and changed his clothes before going to Pharaoh shows that despite his favored position in prison, he did not wear nice attire or get to shave.

Joseph’s reply to Pharaoh, “God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace,” reminds us of Daniel’s reply to King Nebuchadnezzar and of Joseph’s earlier reply to the butler and the baker; that is, they always gave God the credit for the dream interpretations. At this point, Joseph had not heard the dream and hence did not know if the interpretation would be favorable or unfavorable for Pharaoh. Therefore, by saying that God would give Pharaoh “an answer of peace,” Joseph simply meant that Pharaoh would get an answer and that his mind would no longer be troubled by not knowing what he was dealing with.

Gen. 41:17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:

Gen. 41:18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and wellfavoured; and they fed in a meadow:

Gen. 41:19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:

Gen. 41:20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:

Gen. 41:21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.

Gen. 41:22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:

Gen. 41:23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:

Gen. 41:24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.

The dreams were repeated. The repetition is valuable, for the following reasons: (1) It calls attention to the details. (2) Out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, a thing is established. (3) A second mention means the occurrence is significant. (4) Carefully comparing repetition often rewards one with additional details.

Pharaoh was younger than Joseph. Great responsibility already rested upon his shoulders at a young age—and then to have the puzzling dreams was very upsetting.

Gen. 41:25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.

Gen. 41:26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.

Gen. 41:27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.

Gen. 41:28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he showeth unto Pharaoh.

Gen. 41:29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:

Gen. 41:30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;

Gen. 41:31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

Gen. 41:32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.

The seven cows represented seven years of plenty or famine depending on their condition.

Joseph gave a methodical interpretation based on the common denominators of seven good cows and seven good ears followed by seven bad cows and seven bad ears, respectively.

Notice that he said twice, “The dream of Pharaoh is one”; that is, the two dreams had the same meaning. Each dream had two parts, and the two parts were one.

Imagine being the young Pharaoh and hearing that there would be seven years of plenty followed by seven years of severe famine! Joseph’s words to the effect “God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do” must have touched Pharaoh—and comforted him. Not only was the riddle solved, but God was favoring Pharaoh with the interpretation. Of course the responsibility lay with Pharaoh to act upon the advice.

“The dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice.” In other words, the repetition was intended to impress the reality of what would happen: seven good years/seven full years and seven bad years/seven lean years. There is a very important principle here: “By the mouth of two or three witnesses is a thing established” (Deut. 17:6; 19:15; Num. 35:30). This is a pronounced principle in the Old Testament.

Gen. 41:33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.

Gen. 41:34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

Gen. 41:35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

Gen. 41:36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

Joseph advised Pharaoh to put a wise and discreet man in charge of the land of Egypt. The man would appoint overseers who would gather and store 20 percent of the wheat in granaries in cities during each of the seven plenteous years. Then, during the seven years of famine, the people would eat the stored grain. To store up one fifth of the grain each year was a wise plan.

Q: When the 20 percent was saved each year, did the Egyptians eat the previous year’s 20 percent and then save 40 percent the next year, etc.? Or did they actually eat 7- to 14-year-old grain by the end of the famine?

A: The former procedure was followed so that during the famine, the people ate relatively recently stored grain.

Comment: That was quite an administrative feat for Joseph in regard to the whole land and trying to save the most recent grain and eating the older grain even during the seven plenteous years.

Gen. 41:37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

Gen. 41:38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the spirit of God is?

Gen. 41:39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shown thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

The younger Pharaoh said to the young Joseph, “You shall be the man in charge. Since God has shown you these things, no one could be wiser or more discreet. Where could we find another such man in whom is the spirit of God?”

Gen. 41:40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

Joseph was 17 years old when taken as a slave to Egypt. He was 30 when Pharaoh elevated him to the No. 2 position in Egypt. Hence there was a 13-year gap. Potiphar, as captain of the guard in charge of the prison, would know all of these happenings in regard to Joseph. With Joseph’s elevation, “only in the throne” was Pharaoh greater.

Comment: The crops must have been bountiful during the seven good years in order for the annually stored 20 percent to feed not only the Egyptians but also those who came from other lands to buy food (for example, Joseph’s family from Israel).

Reply: Also, since the Egyptian people knew why grain was being stored in the cities, the farmers probably stored their own grain in the country.

Comment: Joseph must have had a great influence over Pharaoh, starting with the dream interpretations, which showed a connection with a higher power. And the interpretations did come to pass. The two individuals would have had a close relationship for Joseph to be a “father” to Pharaoh (Gen. 45:8). Apparently, Pharaoh looked to Joseph for counsel and wisdom.

Gen. 41:41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

Gen. 41:42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

Gen. 41:43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.

Gen. 41:44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

Joseph was given great authority, as shown by (1) Pharaoh’s ring, (2) clothes of fine linen or silk, and (3) a gold chain for his neck. Moreover, Joseph rode in the second chariot, and all of  the people had to bow the knee before him. (Again we are reminded of Daniel.) As the acting prime minister, Joseph was more conspicuous before the public than Pharaoh.

In antitype, Joseph’s relationship to Pharaoh pictures Jesus’ relationship to the Father. Especially during the next age, when all judgment is given over to the Son, Jesus will be the main instrument of the Father in administering the Kingdom. Joseph was a double type, sometimes picturing Jesus alone and at other times The Christ. Just as Joseph was second in authority to Pharaoh, so Jesus is second in authority to the Father.

Gen. 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnath-paaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Pharaoh called Joseph by the Egyptian name Zaphnath-paaneah, which means “savior of the world” or “the man to whom secrets are revealed.” The latter name is a reminder of Jesus’ getting the scroll in Revelation 5:6,7, enabling him to look upon God’s plan in detail.

There are a number of similarities between Joseph and Jesus. Among them are the following: In the Kingdom, all will have to “bow the knee” to Jesus, as they bowed the knee to Joseph. Joseph and Jesus were both rejected by their brethren with later reconciliation. Joseph and Jesus both get a wife out of the world (Egypt).

Gen. 41:46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

Like Jesus when he entered the service of the Father at his baptism, Joseph was 30 years old when he began to serve Pharaoh in the high capacity as second in command, and he “went throughout all the land of Egypt,” which was a united empire at the time (that is, it was not divided into northern and southern kingdoms). Egypt pictures the world of mankind, and both Joseph and Jesus entered Egypt.

Gen. 41:47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

The grain grew abundantly in the seven plenteous years.

Gen. 41:48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

One fifth of all grain grown during the seven plenteous years was stored, and this amount was one fifth of an abundant crop (Gen. 41:34). Much grain had to be stored because not only Jacob but also people from “all countries” came to buy grain in the seven years of famine (Gen. 41:57). It is likely that double the amount of grain was grown during the seven plenteous years.

Incidentally, here is another case in Scripture where “all” means “some.” Joseph “gathered up all [one fifth of] the food of the seven years.” The beginning of Young’s Analytical Concordance, Nos. 29 and 54 under the section “Hints and Helps to Bible Interpretation,” lists many Scriptures where “all” does not literally mean “all.”

Gen. 41:49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

Joseph gathered the grain and “numbered” it until there was so much that he stopped the numbering. He was organized and an excellent administrator, as proven by his authority under Potiphar and then in prison. Here, too, he was methodical, and he watched carefully the amount of grain collected. But God blessed the increase so much during the seven plenteous years that Joseph ceased to count. There was an overwhelming surplus. We are reminded of Malachi 3:10, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Gen. 41:50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Poti-pherah priest of On bare unto him.

Two sons were born to Joseph in Egypt two years before the famine. Joseph’s wife, Asenath, was Egyptian. Jesus likewise takes a bride out of the world. Ruth, the Moabitess, represents primarily the Gentile Church, and so does Asenath, the Egyptian. Being Midianitish, Zipporah was also foreign.

“Poti-pherah” was a title, just as “Potiphar” was a different title; neither was a personal name. “Poti-pherah” was related to sun worship, which began shortly after the building of the Second Pyramid, and the Book of the Dead came a little later. These existed from the Sixth Dynasty on. As a side note, the Egyptians were disdainful of the Hebrews because the Hebrews raised cattle and were nomads back there.

Gen. 41:51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.

Gen. 41:52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

The name of Joseph’s firstborn, Manasseh, means “forgetting.” The name of his second-born, Ephraim, means “fruitful.” These two names, therefore, were connected with Joseph’s experiences. The other names on the breastplate, which were names of the tribes of Israel, were based on the mothers’ experiences.

Joseph’s names for his sons are a wonderful insight into his character. Regarding Manasseh, “God … hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.” Regarding Ephraim, “God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Joseph was counting his blessings. His years in prison must have seemed very long, but he could put all that in perspective and thank the Lord.

Joseph forgot “all … [his] father’s house” in the sense of now having his own family and house. (We know that he did not literally forget his family because he wept over them later.) The thought is that he was now comforted, for being alone in a foreign country, he could have felt like a fish out of water. And he realized that this experience was of the Lord—the fact that Pharaoh had elevated him to the No. 2 position and had given him a gold chain, fine clothes, etc., and even a wife.

Gen. 41:53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

Gen. 41:54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

Now started the seven years of famine, which was “in all [surrounding] lands.” Only Egypt had bread. The famine was extensive, and the other lands became dependent upon Egypt for survival.

It is hard to harmonize Egyptian history from a secular standpoint. One reason is that some of the Pharaohs had double names. Another problem is that monuments and records may pinpoint an event in the reign of a Pharaoh, king, etc., but not give the length of his reign. Also, there were often contemporaneous kings, and secular history interprets them as successive.

Gen. 41:55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

The Egyptians cried to Pharaoh for food. His reply was, “Go to Joseph, and what he says, do.”

What authority Pharaoh gave Joseph! He thought, “Joseph has done such a good job that I will let him continue to be in charge.”

Pharaoh could have looked very good by taking the credit at this point. “I have stored the grain, and now I will dispense it.” Instead he honored Joseph, which fits the antitype. God has committed all judgment to the Son. Pharaoh got credit in that he appointed Joseph to do the work, and then Joseph performed successfully. Thus both Pharaoh and Joseph got credit, just as the Heavenly Father and His Son will both receive honor.

Gen. 41:56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

Gen. 41:57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

Grain from surrounding farmlands was stored in the cities. In other words, the grain was stored in the nearest city. The procedure was very efficient and methodical. Grain had been collected in the name of Pharaoh, and now it was sold back to them. Joseph used wisdom in having the people buy the grain. That way they did not waste the grain or take more than their share. Also, with the people buying just what they needed, the grain went further. Joseph’s method shows that the “gravy train” is not wise. Of course Pharaoh was enriched considerably from the sale of the grain.

The great Time of Trouble will be a time of trouble such as never was. In fact, all flesh would be destroyed if divine power did not stop it (Matt. 24:21,22). Worldwide calamities have occurred in the past, but the future trouble will exceed them. Two examples follow:

1. The black plague terrorized China, Europe, and England—the whole known world. Half of the population of many nations died.

2. The Flood in Noah’s day destroyed all but eight souls. The trouble that preceded the Flood was worldwide when the fallen angels were terrorizing the children of Adam. Brutality was rampant, but God protected Noah, who was building the Ark. And perhaps the fallen angels left Noah alone because they found him humorous. After all, it had never even rained on humanity up to that time, and Noah was a laughingstock.

Q: Will the great Time of Trouble be greater in intensity or just equivalent to past happenings but worldwide?

A: The trouble will be intense as well as worldwide. And there will be mass materializations by the fallen angels—a subject not usually treated by Bible Students. This future inundation of fallen angels will help raise the temperature.

Because of Joseph’s help for the land of Egypt, he and the Hebrews were regarded favorably, including Jacob. (Joseph was 110 years old when he died and just 30 years old when he became governor—an 80-year difference.) When Jacob died, the Egyptians mourned, and many of them accompanied Joseph and others back to Israel to bury Jacob there (Gen. 50:3,7,11).

(1987–1989 Study)

VN:F [1.9.20_1166]
Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.20_1166]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave Comment