Pharaoh’s dreams. (Verse 1-8.)
Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. (Verse 9-32.)
Joseph’s counsel, He is highly advanced. (Verse 33-45.)
Joseph’s children, The beginning of the famine. (Verse 46-57.)
Now Pharaoh was having a dream. Why not? Everyone else was. Why should he be any different? But Pharaoh’s dream was much different than the ones you and I have today, the Pharaoh’s dream was in unison with the dream that Joseph had. Now Joseph’s patience will pay off. God is about to exalt Joseph beyond his wildest imaginations.
1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.
2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.
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.
4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.
5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.
6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.
7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
[rank – ripe]
Two full years Joseph was in prison after the Butler was released and yet he still maintained his integrity despite all his circumstances.
This story is one of great dreams and Pharaoh is no different, his dream is given to him by God to release Joseph and to save the world through a descendant of Abraham just as Christ would do one day to all who believe on his name.
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.
[Dan 4:5, Exod 7:11, Dan 1:20, Dan 2:2]
9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:
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:
11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.
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.
13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
God planned this whole course of events to have Joseph in the right place at the right time to fulfill his purposes. The question really is, why does God even bother to show us what he is about to do? He is not obligated to us. The answer is because he loves us, and He wants to show us his plans.
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.
Here we see Joseph, who was left for dead for 2 years by the world and Israel, resurrected to a position of prominence in the world. Christ has been rejected by the world for 2 millennia, but his return is soon.
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.
16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
[Gen 40:8, Dan 2:28]
note Joseph’s humility and quickness to give the honour and glory to God Almighty rather than claiming it for himself. Note the comments made by Daniel in a similar situation (Dan. 2:30).
Praise God that Joseph doesn’t do as many of us would and take credit for some gift that God has given us as if by some course of study, a man could interpret dreams.
17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
[kine = cows]
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:
20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
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.
22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
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.
Numbers are very important to God and here we see the number seven used four times and the dream is repeated with variations, but they meant the same thing.
25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
[Dan 2:29, Dan 2:45, Rev 4:1]
“the dream…is one” – both dreams point to the same fact
26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
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.
[2nd Kings 8:1]
28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
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 47:13, Psa 105:16]
31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
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.
If Pharaoh would have only had this dream once he could have passed it off as a nightmare or a silly dream, but because it was repeated, Pharaoh knew there was great significance assigned to it.
33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
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.
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.
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.
God gave Joseph a mind that was able to multi-task as we say today. This was evident from the beginning helping his father with the flocks, it was evident at the house of Potiphar and it was also evident during his time in the Prison.
Jesus also prophesied of a period lasting seven year that is to come upon the entire world and be especially hard on his own people,
37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
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?
[Num 27:18, Job 32:8, Dan 4:8, Dan 5:11]
39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
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.
41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
[Psa 105:21, Dan 6:3, Acts 7:10]
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;
[Esther 3:10, Esther 8:2, Dan 5:29]
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.
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.
Jesus is to be exalted to sit at the right hand of God and rule and reign over everyone just as Joseph did. Jesus was one with the Father and the Spirit.
45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
“Zaphnath-paaneah” means “the saviour of the world” – an interesting name for someone who is an OT picture of Jesus Christ!
Joseph here receives a gentile bride when he begins his reign just as Jesus receives gentiles into his kingdom that helped Israel during their time of trouble.
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.
[1st Sam 16:21, 1st Kings 12:6, Dan 1:19]
Joseph was thirty years old; when he was sold off as a slave by his brothers he was seventeen (37:2) and therefore could have spent as much as twelve years in prison.
Both went about the whole land telling the inhabitants what needed to be done to save themselves and their families and the nation. Both fed the multitudes. John 6:48-58
How old was Jesus Christ when he began his public ministry according to Luke 3:23?
47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.
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.
49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.
50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
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 hoause.
[Manasseh = to forget]
52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
[Ephraim = fruitfulness]
God is causing Christ to be fruitful even in the land of His Son’s affliction because of all the fruit that has sprung up over the last two thousand years even though his own brethren have rejected him.
53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.
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.
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.
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.
57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.
[Gen 43:1, 1st Kings 18:2, 2nd Kings 8:1, Jer 52:6, Lam 5:10
Notice that the famine was sore in all the lands. Joseph like Christ blessed his own country first before being a blessing to all the world. For a Jew to survive today he must humble himself and go to Egypt (the world) for bread (truth) because for the most part Israel is still blinded today.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-8 – The means of Joseph’s being freed from prison were Pharaoh’s dreams, as here related. Now that God no longer speaks to us in that way, it is no matter how little we either heed dreams, or tell them. The telling of foolish dreams can make no better than foolish talk. But these dreams showed that they were sent of God; when he awoke, Pharaoh’s spirit was troubled.
Verse 9-32 – God’s time for the enlargement of his people is the fittest time. If the chief butler had got Joseph to be released from prison, it is probable he would have gone back to the land of the Hebrews. Then he had neither been so blessed himself, nor such a blessing to his family, as afterwards he proved. Joseph, when introduced to Pharaoh, gives honour to God. Pharaoh had dreamed that he stood upon the bank of the river Nile, and saw the kine, both the fat ones, and the lean ones, come out of the river. Egypt has no rain, but the plenty of the year depends upon the overflowing of the river Nile. See how many ways Providence has of dispensing its gifts; yet our dependence is still the same upon the First Cause, who makes every creature what it is to us, be it rain or river. See to what changes the comforts of this life are subject. We cannot be sure that to-morrow shall be as this day, or next year as this. We must learn how to want, as well as how to abound. Mark the goodness of God in sending the seven years of plenty before those of famine, that provision might be made. The produce of the earth is sometimes more, and sometimes less; yet, take one with another, he that gathers much, has nothing over; and he that gathers little, has no lack, Exodus 16:18. And see the perishing nature of our worldly enjoyments. The great harvests of the years of plenty were quite lost, and swallowed up in the years of famine; and that which seemed very much, yet did but just serve to keep the people alive. There is bread which lasts to eternal life, which it is worth while to labour for. They that make the things of this world their good things, will find little pleasure in remembering that they have received them.
Verse 33-45 – Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should always be followed by good counsel. God has in his word told us of a day of trial before us, when we shall need all the grace we can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave Joseph an honourable testimony. He is a man in whom the spirit of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, “a revealer of secrets.” This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some translate Joseph’s new name, “the saviour of the world.” The brightest glories, even of the upper world, are put upon Christ, the highest trust lodged in his hand, and all power given him, both in heaven and earth.
Verse 46-57 – In the names of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim, Joseph owned the Divine providence.
1. He was made to forget his misery.
2. He was made fruitful in the land of his affliction. The seven plenteous years came, and were ended. We ought to look forward to the end of the days, both of our prosperity and of our opportunity. We must not be secure in prosperity, nor slothful in making good use of opportunity. Years of plenty will end; what thy hand finds to do, do it; and gather in gathering time. The dearth came, and the famine was not only in Egypt, but in other lands. Joseph was diligent in laying up, while the plenty lasted. He was prudent and careful in giving out, when the famine came. Joseph was engaged in useful and important labours. Yet it was in the midst of this his activity that his father Jacob said, Joseph is not! What a large portion of our troubles would be done away if we knew the whole truth! Let these events lead us to Jesus. There is a famine of the bread of life throughout the whole earth. Go to Jesus, and what he bids you, do. Attend to His voice, apply to him; he will open his treasures, and satisfy with goodness the hungry soul of every age and nation, without money and without price. But those who slight this provision must starve, and his enemies will be destroyed.