From Prison to Glory
Questions with Proposed Answers Included
Background and Printed Text: Genesis 39:21-Genesis 41:57
Genesis 39:21 And Yehovah was with He-Will-Gather [Joseph]. And He tilted grace unto him. And He gave His favour in the eyes of the prince of the house of the prison. 22And the prince of the house of the prison gave into He-Will-Gather’s [Joseph’s] hand all the prisoners that are in the house of the prison. And all that they did there, he, he was doing. 23There is not a prince of the house of the prison seeing all-anything in his hand in that Yehovah is with him. And what he does, Yehovah prospers.
Genesis 40:1 And he was after these things. The water-provider of the king of Egypt and the baker sinned to their lords, to the king of Egypt. 2And Pharaoh was furious concerning two of his eunuchs—concerning the prince of the water-providers and concerning the prince of the bakers. 3And he gave them unto the house of the prison via the guard of the house of the prince of the executioners, a place where He-Will-Gather [Joseph] is bound there. 4And the prince of the executioners appointed He-Will-Gather [Joseph] with them. And he ministered-to them. And they were days in the guard.
5And they dreamed a dream—both of them—a man his dream in one night, a man according-to the interpretation of his dream: the water-provider and the baker who are to the king of Egypt who are bound in the house of the prison.
6And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] came in unto them in the morning. And he saw them. And behold, they are upset. 7And he asked Pharaoh’s eunuchs who are with him in the guard of his lord’s house, saying, “Why are your faces bad today?” 8And they said unto him, “We have dreamed a dream. And no interpreter is of him.” And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] said unto them, “Are not interpretations to Elohim? Scroll-ye to me, na.” 9And the prince water-provider scrolled his dream to He-Will-Gather [Joseph]. And he said to him, “Via my dream—and behold a vine is to my faces. 10And in the vine are three intertwiners. And he is as budding. Her blossom elevated. Her clusters ripened grapes. 11And Pharaoh’s cup is in my hand. And I took the grapes. And I squeezed them unto Pharaoh’s cup. And I gave the cup upon the palm of Pharaoh.” 12And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] said to him, “This is his interpretation. Three of the tendrils—they are three days. 13In yet three days Pharaoh shall carry thy head. And he shall restore thee upon thy footing. And thou shalt give Pharaoh’s cup into his hand according-to the first justice when thou wast his water-provider. 14But rather thou remembered me with thee just as he shall-be-good to thee. And thou shalt do grace with me, na. And thou shalt remember me unto Pharaoh. And thou shalt bring me from this house. 15For, stolen, I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews. And also here, I have not done from a blemish that they put me into a pit.”
16And the prince of the bakers saw that the interpretation is good. And he said unto He-Will-Gather [Joseph], “Even I am in my dream. And behold three baskets of whiteness are upon my head. 17And in the uppermost basket is from every food of Pharaoh, the doing of a baker. And the bird ate them from the basket from upon my head.” 18And He-Will-Gather [Joseph] answered. And he said, “This is his interpretation. Three of the baskets—they are three days. 19In yet three days Pharaoh shall carry thy head from upon thee. And he shall hang thee upon a tree. And the bird shall eat thy flesh from off of thee!”
20And he was in the third day, a day of the childing of Pharaoh. And he made a drinking-party to all his slaves. And he carried the head of the prince of the water-providers and the head of the prince of the bakers in the midst of his slaves. 21And he restored the prince of the water-providers upon his water-providership. And he gave the cup upon the palm of Pharaoh. 22And he hanged the prince of the bakers just as He-Will-Gather [Joseph] interpreted to them.
23And the prince of the water-providers did not remember He-Will-Gather [Joseph]. And he forgot him.
Genesis 41:1 And he was at the end of two years of days. And Pharaoh dreamed. And behold, he stood upon the river. 2And behold, seven cows beautiful of the appearance and healthy-[ones] of flesh are ascending from the river. And they grazed in a marsh. 3And behold, seven other cows bad of appearance and thin-[ones] of flesh are ascending from the river after them. And they stood near the cows upon the lip of the river. 4And the bad-of-the-appearance and thin-[ones]-of-the-flesh cows ate the seven beautiful-[ones]-of-appearance and the healthy cows. And Pharaoh awoke.
5And he slept. And he dreamed a second time. And behold, seven healthy and good grain-heads are ascending in one stalk. 6And behold, seven thin and blighted-of-the-east grain-heads are springing after them. 7And the seven thin ears devoured seven of the healthy and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke. And behold a dream.
8And he was in the morning. And his spirit beat. And he sent. And he called all magicians of Egypt and all her wise men. And Pharaoh scrolled his dream to them. And there is no interpreter of them to Pharaoh.
9And prince of the waterers spoke with Pharaoh, saying, “I remind of my sins today. 10Pharaoh was furious concerning his slaves. And he gave me into guard, house of the prince of the executioners, me and prince of the bakers. 11And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he. We dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12And there with us is a youth, a Hebrew, slave to prince of the executioners. And we scrolled to him. And he interpreted our dreams to us. He interpreted a man according to his dream. 13And he was just as he interpreted to us—so he was. He restored me upon my foundation and he hanged him.”
14And Pharaoh sent. And he called Joseph. And they hurried him from the pit. And he shaved. And he changed his garments. And he came unto Pharaoh.
15And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “I have dreamed a dream. And an interpreter is not with him. And I, I have heard concerning thee to say, thou wilt hear a dream to interpret him.” 16And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, “Without me! Elohim shall answer the peace of Pharaoh.” 17And Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph, “In my dream, behold, I am standing upon the lip of the river. 18And behold, seven healthy-of-flesh and beautiful-of-appearance cows ascend from the river. And they grazed in a marsh. 19And behold, seven other very skinny and bad-of-appearance and lean-of-flesh cows are ascending after them. I didn’t see as such in all the land of Egypt for badness! 20And the lean and the bad cows ate the first seven healthy cows. 21And they came into their midst. And it could not be known that they had come into their midst! And their appearance is bad just as at the beginning. And I awoke.
22“And I saw in my dream. And behold, seven ears are ascending in one stalk, full and good. 23And behold, seven ears—withered, emaciated, blasted with the east wind are springing up after them. 24And the emaciated ears devoured the seven good ears. And I said unto the magicians. And there is not a teller for me!”
25And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, “The dream of Pharaoh—it is one. Elohim has told Pharaoh what He is doing. 26The seven good cows—they are seven years. And the seven good ears—they are seven years. The dream—it is one. 27And the seven emaciated and bad of appearance cows that are ascending after them—they are seven years. And the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
28 “This is the speech that I spoke unto Pharaoh. He shows unto Pharaoh what the Elohim is doing. 29Behold, seven years are coming, big fullness in all the land of Egypt. 30And seven years of famine shall arise after them. And all the fullness shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt. And the famine shall finish the land. 31And the fullness shall not be known in the land from the faces of that famine afterward. For he was very heavy! 32And concerning the doubling of the dream unto Pharaoh twice: for the speech is established from with the Elohim. And the Elohim is hastening to do him! 33And now Pharaoh shall see a man of understanding and of wisdom. And he has set him over the land of Egypt. 34Pharaoh shall do. And he has visited visitors over the land. And he shall one-fifth the land of Egypt in the seven years of the fullness. 35And they gathered all food of these coming good years. And he shall pile grain under the hand of Pharaoh, food in the cities. And they shall guard! 36And the food shall be for appointment to the land to seven years of the famine that shall be in the land of Egypt. And the land shall not be cut via famine.”
37And the speech was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his slaves. 38And Pharaoh said unto his slaves, “Will we find as this, a man whom a spirit of gods is in him?”
39And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “After gods making thee know all this, there is no understanding and wisdom as thee! 40Thou, thou shalt be over my house. And all my people shall kiss upon thy mouth! Only the chair—I will be bigger than thee.”
41And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “See! I gave thee over all the land of Egypt!” 42And Pharaoh removed his ring from upon his hand. And he gave her upon Joseph’s hand. And he dressed him, clothing of fine-linen. And he put a decking of the gold upon his neck. 43And he rode him via the second chariot that is to him. And they called to his faces, “I will kneel!” And he will be given him over all the land of Egypt.
44And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, “I am Pharaoh! And no man shall elevate his hand and his foot without thee in all the land of Egypt!” 45And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Salvation of the Age [Zaphnath Paaneah]. And he gave to him Asnat daughter of Poti Pherah priest of On for a woman. And Joseph exited over the land of Egypt. 46And Joseph is a son of thirty year via his standing to the faces of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
And Joseph exited from the faces of Pharaoh. And he crossed-over in all the land of Egypt.
47And the land made to fistfuls in seven of the years of the fullness. 48And he collected all food of seven years that were in the land of Egypt. And he gave food into cities. He gave food of a field of the city that is her surroundings into her midst. 49And Joseph piled grain as sand of the sea—very much—until he ceased to scroll. For there is no scrolling!
50And to Joseph: he childed two sons before the years of famine will come that Asnat, daughter of Poti Pherah priest of On, childed to him. 51And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Forgetter [Manasseh]. “For Elohim made-me-forget all my toil and all the house of my father.” 52And he called the name of the second Doubly Fruitful [Ephraim]. “For Elohim fruited me in the land of my humiliation.”
53And seven of the years of fullness that was in the land of Egypt were finished. 54And seven of the years of the famine began to come just as Joseph said. And the famine was in all the lands. And there was bread in all the land of Egypt.
55And all the land of Egypt was famished. And the people outcried unto Pharaoh to [for] bread. And Pharaoh said to all Egypt, “Go-ye unto Joseph! Ye shall do what he will say to you!” 56And the famine was over all faces of the land. And Joseph opened all that was in them. And he broke to Egypt. And the famine gripped in the land of Egypt. 57And all the land—they came—Egyptward unto Joseph to break, because the famine gripped in all the land.
I. Joseph’s Trustworthiness (verses 21-23)
Yehovah was with Joseph. Yehovah bent grace toward Joseph. Yehovah gave His favour in the eyes of the prince of the house of the prison. This resulted in the prince of the prison house giving all the prisoners in the prison into Joseph’s hand. Anything a prisoner did was because Joseph did it. No prince of the prison house concerned himself with seeing anything in the prison that Joseph did; Yehovah was with him. Yehovah prospered everything Joseph did.
1. How many times does the text state that Yehovah was with Joseph? This must be about the fourth time. The text stated it a number of times.
2. Why did Yehovah state this so many times? Yehovah is emphasizing this fact for readers so that they can see that Yehovah’s being with a person doesn’t mean the person won’t suffer; it does mean that the person will succeed in doing well.
3. What does “He tilted grace unto him” mean? This means that Yehovah made the grace of those around and over Joseph go in Joseph’s direction.
4. What does grace mean in the Bible? Grace is a fervent (very strong) ardent (burning) zeal (intensity toward any issue that drives a person to care enough to take action) by which one is actuated (motivated to take action). It can be toward someone or a group, or an animal, or it can be against someone or a group, or an animal.
In this case, Yehovah tilted the fervent, ardent zeal of those in charge of Joseph and around Joseph toward Joseph so that they were very willing to benefit him.
5. Explain what “He gave His favour in the eyes of the prince of the house of the prison” means: Yehovah had favour toward Joseph. He gave that same favour that He had to the prince of the prison house toward Joseph so that the prince saw Joseph in the same way (in the eyes of) that Yehovah saw Joseph.
6. Why was grace and favour demonstrated by responsibilities? Would you like to be rewarded for doing well by being given responsibilities that include more work? Responsibilities are the greatest rewards a person can be given! Even if a person is rewarded by being given millions of dollars, that reward requires responsibilities. Yehovah will give rewards to those who are faithful in the form of responsibilities. (If you don’t know this or are unsure, consider the parable that starts in Matthew 25:14.)
Those who are the happiest in life are those who take responsibilities as privileges, and do what those responsibilities require knowing that they are accomplishing good.
Responsibilities always include work. If you don’t desire responsibilities, you won’t be happy or settled in life.
7. Why did the prince of the prison house give other prisoners into Joseph’s hand? The prince of the prison house saw how Joseph benefited both the prisoners and the prince himself. This way, the prince didn’t have to concern himself with the welfare of the prisoners, and Joseph could tend to them with great ability. All prisoners are slaves; Joseph already had been over other slaves.
8. Why did Yehovah make sure that Joseph was over the other prisoners? Joseph was in training.
- He learned how to deal with some of the most clever prisoners in the land, since they were part of the royal house.
- He learned how to speak to Pharaoh and to others with proper Egyptian respect.
- He learned how these men thought as they expressed themselves to him.
- He gained a grasp of perfect Egypt language and high culture.
- He learned to serve the very ones who later would need service.
- He learned great patience and work without reward.
9. What does “all that they did there, he, he was doing” mean? This means that Joseph set their schedules and determined their meals, their exercise, their sleeping, their responsibilities, and all things that were part of prison life.
10. How many princes of the prison house were there? The text indicates more than one: “There is not a prince of the house of the prison seeing all-anything in his hand.” I propose that there was a prince of the house of the prison for every shift of every day so that a responsible person always oversaw the royal prison.
11. If the above is true, how could Joseph take the place of the princes of the prison house? Wouldn’t this be too much responsibility, giving him no sleep? If this is true, the prisoners slept when he slept (or before he went to sleep), and any prisoner who needed in the help in the night would find Joseph ready and willing to help.
12. What does “there is not a prince… seeing all-anything in his hand” mean? This means that no prince oversaw anything once Joseph was put in charge.
13. Did the text again state that Yehovah was with him? Yes, it did again in verse 23!
14. How much of Joseph’s work did Yehovah prosper? He prospered all of it.
II. Double Demotions (Chapter 40, verses 1-4)
After Joseph gained this reputation and set of responsibilities, the following events occurred. Two eunuchs, the prince of the water providers of the king, and the prince of the bakers of the king sinned to their lords, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was furious. He gave them to the prison house by means of the guard of the house of the prince of the executioners. This was where Joseph was interred (made a prisoner). The prince of the executioners appointed Joseph with them, and Joseph ministered to them. They were days under arrest.
1. Did the water provider and the baker sin against God, according to Genesis 40:1? The text doesn’t indicate this. Just because Pharaoh, their lords, thought they sinned doesn’t mean that they sinned against God. They did something that was offensive to Pharaoh.
2. How angry was Pharaoh at these two eunuchs? He was furious!
3. What did they do? The text intentionally doesn’t give those details; they are not important for readers to know in the events being described.
4. Who probably was the prince of the executioners? I propose that this was Potiphar, Joseph’s slavemaster.
5. Who arrested these two eunuchs? The guard of the house of the prince of the executioners arrested them.
6. The text states that Joseph was bound there. Was he tied up? No, he wasn’t. Had Joseph been tied up or shackled, he couldn’t have done the work or taken the responsibilities he was given. Being bound means that he was serving a sentence that didn’t permit him to leave.
7. Who assigned Joseph to these two eunuchs? Since it was the prince of the executioners, I propose that Potiphar assigned him.
8. If Potiphar is involved, what does that tell the reader about Potiphar’s view of Joseph after the accusations of Potiphar’s wife? This shows that Potiphar trusted Joseph just as much as he did before, and therefore that Potiphar did not believe the stories that his wife scrolled to him.
9. In what ways did Joseph minister to them?
- Joseph listened to them and their situations.
- Joseph made certain they had what they needed so that they were not unnecessarily uncomfortable.
- Joseph made certain that they had appropriate exercise and chores to keep them occupied, as well as social contacts.
10. How long were they “in guard” (prisoners)? When texts refer to days like this, those texts indicate quite a while, like months. Many days could mean years, but this doesn’t say many.
III. Two Nightmares (verse 5)
The two arrested eunuchs, the prince of the bakers and the prince of the water providers, dreamed a dream, each one his own dream, in the same night. Each dream had an interpretation.
1. How did they dream a dream according to the interpretation of each dream? What does that mean? They each had a dream with a separate interpretation. The text is indicating that the dreams came with interpretations. They also had a dream on the same night.
2. How can one tell if a dream has an interpretation? If a dream will have an interpretation, it will be a prophetic dream (whether it will arise from Yehovah or from some other source).
One way to tell if a dream has an interpretation is the way the dream affects the dreamer. When Joseph was a youth, he told his dream to his brothers, then to his brothers and father. Most folks have a difficult time remembering details of dreams. Some can remember. The dreams Joseph had strongly affected him (and they affected others). In the same way, the dreams of these two eunuchs strongly affected them. Yehovah has a way of making a dream very real and very troubling if He has sent it.
Many have nightmares, and think their dreams are from their god. This will sometimes include giving an occult (hidden) interpretation to the dreams that are not from Yehovah.
IV. The First Dream (verses 6-15)
Joseph came to see them in the morning, and he saw that they were upset. He asked them, “Why are your faces bad today?” They told him, “We have dreamed a dream. And no interpreter is of him.” Joseph’s response was, “Are not interpretations to Elohim? Scroll-ye to me, na.”
The first one to scroll his dream was the prince water-provider. He described a vine that was in front of him. Three intertwining (interwrapping) vines were in this vine. The vine was as if it were budding. Its blossom elevated (went up). The clusters ripened grapes. The prince water-provider had Pharaoh’s cup in his hand. He took the grapes and squeezed them unto Pharaoh’s cup. He then gave that cup upon Pharaoh’s palm of his hand.
Joseph replied with the interpretation. The three tendrils, the smaller vines that intertwined with the main vain are three days. Three days from the time this prince water-provider had his dream, Pharaoh would carry his head—that is, from the prison back to Pharaoh’s headquarters. Pharaoh will restore this prince to the same place he was before: upon his footing (his pedestal). He will then give Pharaoh’s cup into his hand as usual just as before.
Joseph then told this man to remember him to the same degree that good would occur with the prince water-provider. Joseph told him to grace with Joseph, and remember Joseph to Pharaoh. He also told him to bring him from this prison house. Joseph explained that he had been kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and that he had done nothing from even a blemish that deserved his being put into a pit.
1. Did Joseph make a habit of visiting prisoners in the morning? He had taken the places of the princes of the prison house. Thus, he did this service 24 hours a day (that is, he was on call). He definitely visited them in the morning.
2. What did Joseph mean by, “Why are your faces bad today?” The word bad indicates some harm or hurt, or some type of trouble. Joseph desired to know why their faces indicated trouble on this day.
3. Did these eunuchs expect a dream interpreter for their dreams? This must have been a normal part of their religious practices.
4. What did these eunuchs mean by, “there is no interpreter of him?” They thought the two dreams meant the same thing.
5. What did Joseph mean by “Are not interpretations to Elohim,” and how did the eunuchs take what he said? Joseph meant that Elohim (the Gods—that is, the Gods of Avraham) is the One Who provides all true interpretations of dreams that are prophetic. The eunuchs would have understood this according to their own view of gods, and they would have agreed with Joseph. Saints can speak truth, and non-saints can understand that truth according to their own idolatry. (Joseph knew that these men would take his words that way.)
6. What does “Scroll-ye to me, na” mean? To scroll is to give the details of something in order. The word na is that Hebrew little word that is a softener, and changes a demand into something akin to a request.
7. When the prince of the water provider began to give his dream, he started with “Via my dream…” What did he mean by that? He is introducing his dream by stating, “By means of my dream, …”
8. What did he mean by, “behold a vine is to my faces”? He meant that a vine was straight in front of him.
9. What are the three ‘intertwiners’? They are extensions of the vine that are like vine branches. The growing ends of many vines wrap around objects that they touch if they are able to wrap around them. That way, the vines support themselves using objects. (You can watch some vines do this if you are patient.)
10. What did he mean by, “he is as budding”? He refers to the vine. A budding vine is a vine that is about to produce flower blossoms. This vine looked as if it was about to produce these blossoms.
11. What occurred if her blossom elevated? In this dream, everything took place far faster than it would in nature. The blossom grew upward, then changed (into clusters of ripened grapes).
12. What was he making if he squeezed the grapes into Pharaoh’s cup? This normally will give grape juice. I propose that this pictured wine, which is grape juice that has been fermented into alcohol, since grape juice was rarer, and wine was appreciated. (Grape juice requires either refrigeration or pasteurization, which is boiling it and enclosing it in a container that has been boiled and sterilized; they didn’t know of this process back then.)
13. How did Joseph know that the three tendrils (the vine extensions that are growing and wrapping around things) are three days? Joseph couldn’t have known this. The Spirit of Yehovah told him this.
14. How did Joseph know that Pharaoh would carry the prince water-provider’s head in three days, and what does this mean? Carrying his head means to elevate him from the prison back to his location in the king’s house. (This has nothing to do with beheading someone.)
Joseph heard his say, “Her blossom elevated.” He knew that this meant that the head of this eunuch would be lifted from prison, but he only could know that by the Spirit of Yehovah. Anyone else hearing this dream would not figure that out (or would not figure that out with certainty).
15. What does “And he shall restore thee upon thy footing” mean, and how did Joseph know that? This means to return this eunuch back to his former position (his footing) and rank.
Joseph knew this because the dream description stated, “Pharaoh’s cup is in my hand,” and “I gave the cup upon the palm of Pharaoh.” That part of the dream didn’t require special information from the Spirit of Yehovah, since it is obvious. Yet, Joseph was absolutely certain; that requires the Spirit of Yehovah.
16. What does justice mean in verse 13? Justice means rendering (giving) a right decision based on all the facts. The eunuch’s original responsibilities were to be the water provider, and to give drinks of all kinds to Pharaoh. He was taught how to do this; therefore, his justice was what he had been taught—how he provided those drinks to Pharaoh. We might say that he did this according to the first rules that he had been taught.
17. What did Joseph mean by, “But rather thou remembered me with thee just as he shall-be-good to thee”?
- But rather is a way of strongly emphasizing what is being said.
- Thou remembered me is said in the past tense instead of, “Thou shalt remember me,” because Joseph told him the interpretation, and Joseph saw the result of the interpretation—that it would mean that the prince water provider would bring Joseph out of prison. Things said in the past tense in Hebrew like this are viewed as what will naturally result from what was said before. For example, I might say in English, “Open the door, and I will come in.” In Biblical Hebrew, it would said, “Open the door, and I have come in.” Joseph desired that the result of his interpreting the dream would be Joseph’s removal from the prison.
- With thee refers to the prince water provider remembering what happened to him and to Joseph, since they were both in prison together.
- Just as he shall be good to thee refers to the situation—just as the situation will be good to the prince water provider, the prince can make Joseph’s situation good.
18. What did Joseph mean by “And thou shalt do grace with me, na,” and what would be the result? Joseph respectfully asked this prince to do grace—that is, to demonstrate a fervent (very strong) and burning zeal (a strong belief in something, with actions to follow) toward Joseph. If the prince did this, he would strongly urge Pharaoh to free Joseph.
19. Was this the first time that Joseph told anyone that he had been stolen (kidnapped)? Readers cannot tell if this was the first time. I suspect that it was not; I suspect that Joseph told those who bought him from the folks who brought him up from the pit to sell him. This is the first time that readers can see how Joseph worded it.
20. What is this land of the Hebrews? I am unaware of a land of the Hebrews at this time. Joseph’s family was in Canaan, and Canaan is hardly the land of the Hebrews. I propose that Joseph spoke prophetically, though he probably didn’t know this.
21. Who are these Hebrews? All who descend from a man named Ever (spelled as Eber in most Bibles) are Eberites, but were called Hebrews in English. You can find his name in the following genealogy:
1 Chronicles 1:24 Shem, Arphaxad, Shelah, 25Eber, Peleg, Reu, 26Serug, Nahor, Terah, 27Abram; the same is Abraham.
22. What did Joseph mean by, “also here, I have not done from a blemish that they put me into a pit”? He is stating that here, in the land of Egypt, he did not do even a blemish worth of damage or wrong that would deserve his being put into the prison (the pit).
V. The Second Dream (verses 16-19)
The prince of the bakers saw that the interpretation is good—that is, that the news was very good. He said to Joseph, “Even I am in my dream. And behold three baskets of whiteness are upon my head. And in the uppermost basket is from every food of Pharaoh, the doing of a baker. And the bird ate them from the basket from upon my head.”
Joseph answered him, “This is his interpretation. Three of the baskets—they are three days. In yet three days Pharaoh shall carry thy head from upon thee. And he shall hang thee upon a tree. And the bird shall eat thy flesh from off of thee!”
1. Was the prince of the bakers excited to tell his dream to Joseph? He was very excited! He thought the two dreams were one, and the results would be the same for both. This was a very happy thought!
2. What are three baskets of whiteness? They are three baskets that appear in the dream to be shining whiteness.
3. Were the baskets stacked, or where they next to each other on his head? I cannot tell. I suspect that they were stacked.
4. What are the foods of Pharaoh (“from every food of Pharaoh”)? These are all doings of a baker, so they are bakery items. Pharaoh must have eaten a lot of bread and a lot of sweet bakery items.
5. What bird eats bread from a basket? Normally, a bird that eats bread doesn’t eat meat. This dream again requires the interpretation of the Spirit of Yehovah.
6. Is there a difference between “Pharaoh shall carry thy head” (verse 13) and “Pharaoh shall carry thy head from upon thee”? Yes! There is a great difference! The text indicates that this eunuch (the prince baker) will be hung!
7. What did the prince baker do to deserve being hung? The text doesn’t say what he did.
8. How did Joseph know that the bird eating bakery goods from the top basket represented a bird that would eat the man’s flesh from off of him? Only the Spirit of Yehovah could give that interpretation. It is not obvious.
VI. Pharaoh’s Birthday Fun (verses 20-22)
Three days later was Pharaoh’s birthday party. He made a drinking party to all his slaves. He “carried the head” of the prince of the water providers and the head of the prince of the bakers among his slaves. He restored the prince of the water providers to providing drink for himself. And the prince of the water providers gave the cup of Pharaoh upon (into) Pharaoh’s palm of his hand.
Pharaoh hanged the prince of the bakers just as Joseph interpreted to them.
1. What does “a day of the childing of Pharaoh” mean? This is the Hebrew language way of saying, Pharaoh’s birthday.
2. What is a drinking party? It is a party with much alcohol.
3. Is such a drinking party wrong in the eyes of Yehovah? No, it isn’t. It is actually central to Biblical tithing. Esther employed it to save many lives.
Yehovah is against drunkenness (alcoholism), and He commands against that. A drinking party is not wrong in the Bible.
4. Why did He make this party to slaves? Since slaves were His staff, it is a staff party. He knew that folks enjoy a good party.
5. What does “he carried the head of the prince of the water-providers and the head of the prince of the bakers in the midst of his slaves” mean? This means that Pharaoh took them from prison, and brought them into the party among the other staff members.
6. Did the prince of the bakers figure that Joseph had been wrong? Both eunuchs were in the same position until Pharaoh ordered the execution of one of them. That may have been the shock value that Pharaoh determined to use among his slaves.
VII. Forget It (verse 23)
The prince of the water providers did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.
1. Why does the text state both: “the prince of the water-providers did not remember Joseph,” and “he forgot him”? Did not remember can be temporary; forget is permanent (unless a reminder occurs).
2. Why did he forget Joseph? I propose the following:
- First, he was shocked by his removal from prison and being thrust into a party.
- Secondly, he was shocked by the hanging that he and all the slaves witnessed.
- Thirdly, he drank plenty of alcohol.
- Fourthly, he did not desire to test Pharaoh and Pharaoh’s kindness to him by bringing up a Hebrew slave abomination of the Egyptians.
- Fifthly, he had a lot to do in his restored position—to much to be thinking about a three-day-old dream interpretation.
- Sixthly, he would have desired to forget everything about being in prison; Joseph would be a small detail in a nightmare.
- This eunuch did not promise Joseph to say or do anything.
Since Yehovah is the One who gives all persons their ranks at the times they receive their ranks, Yehovah was not ready for Joseph to be elevated.
VIII. Dream 1 of Pharaoh (chapter 41, verses 1-4)
The next event occurred two years worth of days later. Pharaoh dreamed. He stood upon the river. He saw seven beautiful appearing, physically healthy cows ascending from the river. They grazed in a marsh.
He then saw seven bad-looking, physically thin cows ascending from the river after them. They stood near the others cows upon the lip of the river (the shore of the river). The bad-looking, physically thin cows ate the seven beautiful appearing, physically healthy cows. Pharaoh woke up.
1. Why does the text refer to the time as “two years of days”? This gives a reader an impression that Joseph was counting the days, and they added up to two years.
2. How does a dream work and interact with the dreamer in the Bible? A dream is more like a movie; it can be watched, but active participation in it isn’t part of it. A vision, on the other hand, is totally participatory. A person can be in a dream, but the person will be passive (that is, won’t do something) in the dream.
A dream is a communication if it is from Yehovah. A vision, on the other hand, is more than a communication; it invites participants to be and to do wherever the vision occurs. Thus, a vision is more like ‘astral travel’ in the occult (the idea of traveling out of body to another location to participate). (The occult likely stole the whole concept from the Bible.) Both a Biblical dream and a Biblical vision can highly emotionally affect the viewer/participant.
Dreams are not necessarily what is real in normal life; visions can indeed be what is very physically real.
3. What is the significance of Pharaoh standing upon (by) the river? This tells the reader that Pharaoh will stand (remain in power and alive) during the events of the dream.
4. Identify this river: The river with which Pharaoh was the most familiar was the Nile River. That doesn’t prove that this is the river in the dream, but it could be for reasons given in the next question.
5. Why would a river be an important part of a dream given specifically to Pharaoh? As far as the Egyptians were concerned, life in Egypt came from the Nile; it was the source of water for their crops. If the Nile had dried up, Egypt would die as a power in the region, and would become like surrounding regions: desolate. This gives me the impression that the Nile is the river in the dream.
6. How can cows be viewed as beautiful of appearance? They were truly pretty animals that Pharaoh saw. (Cows can be beautiful. They have beautiful eyes, and some cultures express beautiful eyes as cow eyes.) The variety in the dream was an excellent variety. Pharaoh knew cows.
7. What does “healthy ones of flesh” tell the reader? They were not skinny, and they didn’t have disease blotches on them. They were perfect examples of excellent cows—well fed and strong.
8. Do cows normally graze in a marsh? That depends upon the part of the world where the cows live. Cows eat many kinds of plants. Some marsh plants are good grazing.
9. What is a marsh? A marsh is an area of land covered by water where water plants grow and often thrive. It has its own type of birds—often very colorful birds—and it often has fish swimming by and under the plants. Marshes can be four feet deep. The water plants often produce beautiful flowers, and the grasses can grow very tall. Some plants float using root-like structures that are filled with air, with other root-like structures that anchor the plants so that they are not blown by the wind from place to place. Marshes can be very beautiful.
10. Why are the bad-appearing and thin cows ascending from the river? Whatever the reason is for the coming famine, the river will be a major part of the cause of the famine.
11. What is the lip of the river? This is the river’s banks, the sand along the shore of the river. It is like a person’s lip because water keeps it moist just like water from a person’s mouth.
12. Do cows ever eat each other? No, they don’t! That is why Pharaoh was so bothered!
13. What do cows eating other cows show? This shows that whatever the first set of cows represent, the second set of cows will completely eat up the first set!
IX. Dream 2 for Pharaoh (verses 5-7)
Pharaoh slept. He dreamed a second time. This time, he saw seven healthy and good grain heads ascending in one stalk. Then seven thin grain heads blighted (diseased) from the east wind sprung up after them. The seven thin grain ears devoured seven of the healthy and full grain ears! Pharaoh woke up, and realized this had been a dream.
1. What is a grain head? It is the top portion of wheat or barley where the seeds form. Every grain is a form grass, but a form that produces something that can be eaten. The grain ‘head’ is at the top. Seeds form there. Those seeds are gathered, and then they are crushed into a powder called flour. That flour, when mixed with water, sugar, eggs, and other ingredients, form breads, cookies, pancakes, pie shells, and many other very tasty foods. (See if one of you can find a farmer who grows wheat, rye, or barley, who will be willing to save a grain head for you with the seeds, also called berries, still in the heads. The berries are surrounded by chaff, which is also called fiber/fibre in some ingredient lists.)
2. Do seven grain-heads normally come up in one stalk? There is normally one grain head per plant, not seven.
3. Why, then, are there seven grain-heads in one stalk? What does this tell the reader? This tells the reader that the seven grain heads are part of one unbroken event.
4. Did the seven thin and blighted grain-heads pop up in another plant? No! They grew from the very same plant!
5. What does blighted mean? This means diseased. Diseased plants have been attacked usually by a microscopic creature or item like a virus or bacterium. These weaken the plants, often making it so that they don’t produce fruit.
6. Where did this blight originate, according to this dream? It originated in the east. I propose that that creature or item that caused the blight was blown by the wind.
7. What are grain ears? They are the individual parts of grain heads—that is, they are the seed pods on both sides of the head, like ears are on both sides of the head.
8. Do ears on grain normally devour other ears? No, they never do! This must have been a very scary dream!
9. What is the difference between a healthy ear and a full ear? Some grain flowers are not pollinated while others are. Those that are not pollinated won’t produce a seed/berry, while those that are pollinated will. The ears can be healthy, yet be few in number because of a lack of pollination. If the head has both healthy and full ears, there will be much fruit (in the form of these seeds/berries).
10. Why does the text say, “And behold a dream,” when it already told the reader that it was a dream in verse 5? This is showing what Pharaoh realized—that it had been a dream.
X. Pharaoh’s Frustration (verse 8)
This next event occurred in the morning. Pharaoh’s spirit beat! He sent. He called all the magicians and all the wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh scrolled his dream to them. There was no interpreter of Pharaoh’s dreams.
1. What does his spirit beat mean? This refers to what we call a racing heart. His heart beat very quickly, but his breathing also was very rapid (and thus his spirit, being his breath, was fast).
2. What was Pharaoh’s reaction to the dream? Was he pleased? Pharaoh was very upset (and I figure that he was scared). He knew these two dreams had meanings; he desired to know what the meanings were.
3. What are magicians/magi in the Bible? They are persons who have learned how to make things happen that are not supposed to happen.
Some do magic tricks, giving the appearance of one thing while really doing something else. For example, some magicians can put a person in a box, then make the box appear to float in the air, even removing the box from the person while the person still appears to float. This uses the way the eye sees to hide what really is holding the person in the air.
Another magic trick is turning an object into a living animal. This is also done by fooling the eyes of those watching.
Other magicians truly turn objects into other objects using hidden powers (occult powers) from demons. (These are not the type of magicians that appear at magic shows.)
Magicians in Egypt at this time had great power from demons. (Demons can give humans great power, which is why many give themselves to these demons; they seek power from the demons. They then become slaves to the demons even though all humans are higher in rank than any demon.) Since they had such great power, the normal Egyptian greatly feared and respected the magicians as if they were straight from the gods.
The magi that later came to visit Messiah Yeshua when He was a little under two years old were really wise men; they are discussed in the next question.
4. What are wise men in the Bible? They are astrologers—men who read the constellations in the sky as if they were a form of writing. The word astrology means the word of the constellation.
There are many astrologers today, and many who listen to them or read what they say. Nearly all astrologers have no idea how to read the constellations, and therefore incorrectly read them, applying what they think they are seeing to individual lives of others to whom they give counsel. They make the same error that most readers of the Bible do: they apply what is written to themselves and to others instead of applying themselves to the complete messages written in the stars by Elohim.
He describes that He wrote messages in Genesis 1:
Genesis 1:14 And Elohim said, “Be light-sources in the firmament of the heavens to divide between the day and between the night. And be ye for signs and for appointments and for days and years.”
5. Why did he call the magicians and the wise men when the issue was regarding dreams? He didn’t have others to call regarding dreams. He figured that these persons had the spirits of the gods, and therefore could answer the meanings of these dreams.
6. What does “scrolled his dream” mean? To scroll anything in the Bible is to tell it in order, like one would read a scroll.
Books can be opened anywhere. Scrolls, on the other hand, must be wound the place desired if the person isn’t reading in order; that is troublesome and time-consuming. Computers often feature pages that are too long for one screen; the person then scrolls the screen. Thus, even with modern computers, scrolls are still used.
7. What does “there is no interpreter of them to Pharaoh” mean? Pharaoh had no person who could tell what the dreams meant.
XI. Sudden Recall (verses 9-13)
The prince of the waterers spoke with Pharaoh, saying that he reminded Pharaoh of his sins today. He said that Pharaoh had been furious concerning his slaves and had given him into guard, the house of the prince of the executioners—both him and the prince of the bakers. He explained that both of them had dreamed a dream in one night, each man according to his dream’s interpretation. A Hebrew slave youth belonging to the prince of the executioners had been with them. They scrolled their dreams to him, and he interpreted the dreams to them, each dream to each man. Exactly what this youth said occurred: Pharaoh restored the prince of the waterers, and he hanged the prince of the bakers.
1. What does “I remind of my sins” mean? To sin is to do a violation against any commander. It doesn’t have to be against the God of the Bible. If a person violates a traffic law, the person has sinned against the authorities that made the traffic law.
This man sinned against Pharaoh. I don’t know what he did; I have seen no text that tells. He is reminding Pharaoh of this incident.
2. Why would this man remind Pharaoh of this sin? Wouldn’t he want Pharaoh to never remember it? The prince of the waterers would never be able to explain to Pharaoh why he didn’t tell him about Joseph before now without speaking of this sin. He knows that Pharaoh desires an answer, and this will distract Pharaoh from angering again. Even the prince of the waterers forgot about Joseph telling the interpretation of his dream. Once the prince of the waterers had been restored, he forgot about it, too! He is only giving Pharaoh an explanation so that Pharaoh can call Joseph to the rescue regarding the interpretation of this dream.
3. What does “he gave me into guard” mean? This means that Pharaoh gave this prince of the waterers to the prison guard to take care of him while Pharaoh decided what to do.
4. What does “house of the prince of the executioners” mean? This tells where the prince of the waterers was placed. This house is a prison—a prison house. The prince of the executioners is Potiphar (see verse 12).
5. What does “and he was just as he interpreted to us—so he was” mean? The first he refers to the event; the event occurred just as Joseph interpreted to them.
6. What does “he restored me upon my foundation” mean? This means that Pharaoh returned the prince of the waterers back to his position (‘foundation’) that he formerly held.
XII. The Call (verse 14)
Pharaoh sent and called Joseph. They hurried him from the pit, the prison house. Joseph shaved and changed his clothes. He then came unto Pharaoh.
1. What is a calling in the Bible? It consists of the following:
- A notification of an assignment that will be given
- Giving the assignment
- Giving everything necessary to do the assignment (including power, authority and equipment)
- Giving responsibility to do the assignment exactly right (no excuses for doing it wrong at any time are acceptable)
2. Did Joseph receive ‘a calling’ at this time in the Biblical sense of being called? Pharaoh called Joseph to hear what he had to say. Yehovah already gave Joseph a calling when He gave Joseph the dreams that he told to his brothers and to his father. Yehovah then began equipping Joseph to do that calling.
3. Why did they hurry Joseph from the pit? What was the rush? They feared the pharaoh! They knew that the pharaoh was very eager to obtain an answer to these frightening dreams.
4. Why did Joseph shave? Didn’t he also take a bath? The Egyptians greatly believed in being clean; Joseph didn’t need a bath. He did need to shave, however, since being shaved was important in this culture if a person appeared before the pharaoh.
5. Why did he change his garments? He wore prison garments, but those were not appropriate garments to wear when appearing before the pharaoh.
6. What does pharaoh mean? It means unbridled in Hebrew. Anyone who is unbridled has no one who controls that person at that time. A bridled animal can be controlled and directed—shown where to go and what to do. The pharaoh was supposedly a god (according to Egyptian religious beliefs), and therefore should not be run by anyone else, including any other god.
I use both Pharaoh (as if it is a name, but it isn’t) and the pharaoh (as if it is a title, because it is a title—the title king.) The Bible uses this word as a title and as something like a name. I capitalize it when I use it like a name.
7. Did Joseph come to Pharaoh under guard? Yes, indeed! He was still a prisoner and a slave.
XIII. Pharaoh Speaks (verses 15-21)
Pharaoh said to Joseph that he dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter with him. He told Joseph that he heard concerning him—that he will hear a dream to interpret it. Joseph’s response was, “Without me, God shall answer the peace of Pharaoh.” Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph detailing his dream. In his dream he is standing upon the lip (shore) of the river. He described the seven physically healthy and beautiful-appearing cows ascending from the river and grazing in a marsh. Seven other very skinny and bad-looking lean-fleshed cows ascended after them. Pharaoh had never seen cows like this in Egypt, they were so bad-looking. The lean and bad cows ate the first seven healthy cows. Thus, the healthy cows came into the midst (insides) of the bad-looking cows, but the bad-looking cows didn’t change appearance after swallowing the healthy and good-looking cows; they appeared just as bad as at the beginning. Pharaoh awoke.
1. What did Pharaoh mean by “an interpreter is not with him”? Him refers to the dream. It didn’t come with an interpreter!
2. What did Joseph mean by “without me” when he answered Pharaoh, “Without me! Elohim shall answer the peace of Pharaoh”? Joseph was strongly telling the pharaoh that the answer had nothing to do with Joseph or some power that Joseph had. Elohim (Gods) will give the answer. Joseph did not desire to give the pharaoh the impression that Joseph had some power to do these things.
3. Joseph stated, “Elohim shall answer the peace of Pharaoh.” What does this mean? This means that Elohim will both answer Pharaoh, and will respond to Pharaoh so that he will have peace. It is as if Pharaoh’s peace were another person!
4. Again, what is the lip of the river? It is the shore, since it is watered by the river like a person’s lip is watered in his/her mouth.
5. What did Pharaoh mean by “they came into their midst” in verse 21? He saw that the good cows came into the stomach of the bad cows! This was a frightening dream.
6. If he saw them come into their midst, why does he state, “and it could not be known that they had come into their midst”? Once he saw the cows eat the other cows, the eating cows then returned back to the skinny look they had; they didn’t gain any weight and they didn’t appear fatter after eating the cows.
XIV. Pharaoh Continues (verses 22-24)
Pharaoh continued that he saw in his dream. Seven full and good grain ears are ascending in one stalk. Seven withered, and emaciated grain ears blasted from the east wind sprang up after them. The emaciated ears devoured the seven good ears. Pharaoh told this to the magicians, and no one told him what this meant.
1. What does emaciated mean? This means so skinny, that it appears starved almost to death.
2. What does blasted mean? This is another word for blighted, indicating that something has been hit by disease.
3. The sentence, “And I said unto the magicians,” doesn’t seem complete. What does it mean? The sentence is complete in Hebrew, but not in English. We might add this to the sentence: “And I said this unto the magicians.” Pharaoh gave the details to the magicians.
4. What does “there is not a teller for me” mean? It means that there is no one who can tell Pharaoh what this means.
XV. The Interpretation (verses 25-27)
Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dream of Pharaoh—it is one. Elohim has told Pharaoh what He is doing.” Pharaoh could now know the source of these events.
Joseph continued with the interpretation: “The seven good cows—they are seven years. And the seven good ears—they are seven years. The dream—it is one.” Pharaoh now understood that he actually had just one dream marked with one good period of seven years.
“And the seven emaciated and bad of appearance cows that are ascending after them—they are seven years. And the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.” Pharaoh could have peace to the extent of knowing what the dream meant.
1. Who will be the cause of all these events, according to verse 25? Elohim will be the cause; these verses describe what Elohim will be doing.
2. Why would Elohim do these things? You will have to read a number of chapters to see the answer. He will use the events to bring the Israelis into the land of Egypt so that they can quickly become a great race.
3. Why did Elohim give two dreams that He said are one dream? They are two parts of the same dream; one part says what will happen to the grain, and the other says what will happen to cattle.
XVI. The Reasoning (verses 28-36)
Joseph then told the events again, but in more detail: “This is the speech that I spoke unto Pharaoh. He shows unto Pharaoh what the Elohim is doing.”
Joseph explained that seven years are coming in which a “big fullness” of great crops and cattle growth will be in all the land of Egypt. Then seven years of famine will arise after them to the degree that all the fullness (the great crops) will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will finish the land. This will be a very heavy famine.
He explained the doubling of the dream, giving it twice: “the speech is established from with the Elohim,” and “the Elohim is hastening to do him,” referring to the event.
Joseph then did something very curious. He began instructing Pharaoh on what to do:
- “Now Pharaoh shall see a man of understanding and of wisdom.”
- Pharaoh “has set him over the land of Egypt.”
- Pharaoh “has visited visitors over the land,” these ‘visitors’ being commanders who will keep a personal eye on what is occurring with authority to give orders, being responsible men.
- Pharaoh must divide the land into five sections during the seven years “of the fullness.”
- The visitors must gather all food of the coming good years.
- The grain gathered must be piled (in silos) under Pharaoh’s hand, the food being stored in the cities.
- The visitors must guard the food.
- The gathered food will only be used for ‘appointment’ during the seven years of famine in the land of Egypt.
The land won’t be ‘cut’ by the famine if these things are done.
1. If Joseph is speaking to Pharaoh, why does he act as if Pharaoh isn’t there? I propose that no one was permitted to speak directly to Pharaoh using pronouns like you, your, etc. He was not only viewed as being a king, but also as a god. Speaking directly to him would have made the speaker and Pharaoh on equal rank.
2. Who shows unto Pharaoh what the Elohim is doing? Elohim shows unto Pharaoh what Elohim is doing!
3. What is this big fullness? It is a very large crop and great cattle productivity.
4. What does “the famine shall finish the land” mean? This means that the strength of the land will be used up, and those in the land will be destroyed (if something isn’t done). Egypt will become an unimportant country with few inhabitants.
5. What does “for he was very heavy” mean, and why is it in the past tense? He is the famine. It is in the past tense because Elohim prophetically sees it as accomplished, and Joseph is therefore telling Pharaoh that it is as good as done.
6. Why was the dream doubled, according to verse 32? It was doubled to show that “the speech is established from with the Elohim,” indicating that it will not be reversed (even by prayer), and that “Elohim is hastening to do him,” indicating that it will occur right away.
7. Why did Joseph begin to tell Pharaoh what to do (verse 33)? Wouldn’t this anger Pharaoh? Joseph knew that this news was shocking. Joseph had been called to counsel Pharaoh. Counseling in the Bible always includes not just telling what should be done, but also being the person to get it done. Counseling isn’t just talking (in the Bible); it is also giving the solution to the problem and helping accomplish that solution.
This did not anger Pharaoh, since he would not have known what to do. It showed Pharaoh that Joseph was “a man with a plan.” Many lives were at stake; the entire land of Egypt was in danger of great destruction.
8. Why did Joseph say “And now Pharaoh shall see a man of understanding and of wisdom” instead of “And now Pharaoh shall find a man of understanding and of wisdom”? This seeing is finding. Pharaoh has many slaves whom he can observe (see). He needs to see one who will be the best for the position.
9. What is understanding in the Bible? It is a combination of insight and discernment. Insight is the ability to see into something—being sensitive to its cause and what it is doing. Discernment is being able to distinguish between two or more things that seem exactly alike. If a person has both insight and discernment regarding something, the person has an understanding of it.
10. Why wound understanding be so important to solve this problem? The person in charge must be able to see the problems, must know their causes, must be able to give help without being fooled by those who will take advantage, and must know what it is like to lose everything.
11. What is wisdom in the Bible? It is the skill that a person shows by living and responding in a manner that is right and beneficial to others.
12. Why did Joseph tell Pharaoh to set someone else over the land of Egypt? Wasn’t this a very bold thing to say to a king, implying that the king didn’t have either the wisdom or the understanding? Joseph’s wisdom was from Yehovah. Joseph knew that Pharaoh would not be able to handle the upcoming crisis. Joseph knew that his own position of life would be jeopardy if something wasn’t done that was right to take care of the famine!
What Joseph did was very bold, but Pharaoh needed to hear the bold statements.
13. What shall Pharaoh do (the sentence reading, “Pharaoh shall do”)? Pharaoh shall take steps to prepare for the coming famine. Joseph is speaking to Pharaoh as if Joseph is a trusted counselor.
14. What are visitors in this text, and why does Biblical Hebrew use the word visitors? A Biblical visitor is one who comes with authority and responsibility to command and to inspect. Thus, the person visits (like an officer who reviews the troops to see if they are truly trained right and are ready for the next steps). In military branches, a person who is not from the unit is brought to inspect the unit to judge whether the unit is fit for the next stage. This person is a visitor, and is responsible for his or her judgment.
15. What does “he has visited visitors over the land” mean? Pharaoh himself will ‘visit’ (inspect and judge worthy) the ‘visitors’ who will be over all the land of Egypt. Pharaoh is the chief commander over the land.
16. What does “he shall one-fifth the land of Egypt” mean and involve? I propose that this means that Pharaoh should divide the land into fifths—that is, into five sections, like five states. That way, one visitor, one commander, can be over one section. This would be wise if there are five different economies in Egypt: one where they grow wheat, say, and one where they grow cattle; one where they grow flax (for linen), and one where they mainly fish. The persons who will be the ‘visitors’ must know each area very well, and what each area needs. Otherwise, the people will become afraid during the famine, and will go violent. That is the greatest danger during a famine.
If this is correct, Joseph was militarizing Egypt, making it into a military-styled government in order to handle the upcoming crisis.
17. The text states, “And they gathered all food of these coming good years.” Who gathered, and when did they gather? Joseph said this before Pharaoh decided what to do. Joseph said this in the past tense as if Joseph saw the entire event.
When Hebrew uses a command followed by a past tense form, this tells the reader that if the first part is done (the command), the natural result will be the second part (said in the past tense).
For example, if I were to say, “Throw me the ball, and I will throw it back to you,” you would understand what I am saying. In Hebrew of the Bible, however, the form would be different, and would be like this: “Throw me the ball, and I threw it back to you,” showing cause and effect. This is the same form that Joseph used.
18. If they gathered all the food of the coming good years, what would the Egyptians eat? I understand that Joseph is referring to the extra food beyond what the Egyptians need and will purchase or sell to each other for food.
19. How will they pile the grain? They will put the grain in storage buildings that we call silos. These grain elevators make it possible to store grain for a long time. Egypt is a very dry country; that is good for grain storage. These silos can be very tall, and have what look like escalators to raise the grain unto the top of the pile in the building.
20. How could they pile all that grain under Pharaoh’s hand? The hand of anyone in the Bible is the authority and power of that person. This is the way very young children see hands.
21. Why must the food be kept in the cities? Those citizens who produced the food must be able to see that it is not being taken and used by some other group or power; that would start riots and even cause an overthrow of the government. As long as the food stays where it was produced, those who rely on the food will be satisfied that it is in safe keeping.
22. Who shall guard the grain? Those in those cities shall guard the grain! They will gladly and voluntarily do that.
23. What does “and the land shall not be cut via famine” mean? The word cut has to do with death. It is used to describe the slicing of an animal’s throat that is about to be sacrificed. If the land is cut, that means that it is killed. These actions that Joseph has described will keep the land of Egypt from being killed!
XVII. The Responses (verses 37-38)
Joseph’s speech was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and all his slaves! Pharaoh’s reaction was quick: “Will we find as this, a man whom a spirit of gods is in him?”
1. Why was the speech good in their eyes instead of in their ears? While they heard the speech, they imagined what was being described and what should be done. They saw that it would work. Therefore, it was good in their eyes, not just in their ears.
2. Why would Pharaoh’s slaves think that this speech was so good? Wouldn’t they be jealous of Joseph who is counseling their king? Some of these very slaves had been under Joseph’s care; he had been very kind to them and had listened to them. Some knew of the dreams of Pharaoh, and how disturbed he was over them; Joseph gave an excellent answer. They were pleased that Pharaoh was pleased, and some considered Joseph a true friend.
3. What decision did Pharaoh have to make at this time? He had to make the decision regarding who would lead the entire land of Egypt in this crisis.
4. What spirit did Pharaoh figure was in Joseph, and which gods gave their one spirit to Joseph, in Pharaoh’s mind? Pharaoh saw how quickly and easily Joseph interpreted the dreams and counseled Pharaoh about what to do. Pharaoh assumed that Joseph had to have a spirit in him that gave him such a quick and accurate response.
I cannot tell what gods Pharaoh had in mind. He didn’t believe in the Gods of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob; Pharaoh was himself considered a god! The Egyptians held a number of gods, not just one. I thought it interesting that Pharaoh mentioned one spirit with a number of gods. Pharaoh saw Joseph as being under the power of more than one god!
5. Did Joseph have the spirit of gods in him? The Bible doesn’t tell at this time. Elohim gave Joseph interpretation, understanding and wisdom. Those are what he needed to do his task. Yehovah gives His Spirit to a person when that person must do what cannot be done and must be done. What Joseph did required Yehovah to give him the explanation, but Joseph already had wisdom and understanding. That doesn’t mean that Joseph didn’t have (or need) the Spirit of Yehovah; I just don’t have strong evidence either way.
6. If they had looked, would they have been able to find someone else in Egypt in whom is a spirit of gods for this task? They would not have found anyone in the entire area for this task.
XVIII. The Logic (verses 39-40)
Pharaoh figured that there was no understanding and wisdom like Joseph, since Elohim had made him know all this. Pharaoh commanded that Joseph would be over Pharaoh’s house. All the people of Egypt would kiss upon Joseph’s mouth! Pharaoh only reserved one part for himself: the chair, and thus his own authority, as bigger than Joseph’s authority.
1. What did Pharaoh see so that he concluded that no one had understanding and wisdom like Joseph? He saw that gods made him know all this. (The word for gods is elohim; yet it is sometimes used for false gods in the Bible. I have no reason to believe that Pharaoh knew who Elohim of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob was.) If the gods made him know this, it must be because the gods have given Joseph understanding and wisdom to take care of the problem!
2. Was Pharaoh’s reasoning good? It was good!
3. Why did Pharaoh put Joseph over his house? He hadn’t known Joseph for more than about two minutes! Why would he risk this to a slave/prisoner? Pharaoh understood much about Joseph from his answer, from the way he answered, and from his conduct and the way he treated others who had been imprisoned under him. Many had a high view of folks who showed great wisdom and understanding back then. Pharaoh didn’t see this as a risk, but as an opportunity.
I don’t know what he knew about Potiphar and the effect that Joseph had on Potiphar’s house—that is, that it was greatly blessed while Joseph was put in charge. I also don’t know what Pharaoh knew about how well the prison was run under Joseph. Pharaoh did know that all his slaves were very comfortable with Joseph’s understanding and wisdom. Therefore, Pharaoh trusted him.
4. What does “all my people shall kiss upon thy mouth” mean? This means that all will show affection toward Joseph and will respect his rank.
An expression today is ‘to kiss up,’ which is a slang way of speaking of kissing someone else’s tuchas (rear end). It isn’t kind. Pharaoh used a much kinder expression for ‘kissing up’: kissing upon his mouth. Joseph will be in charge.
5. To what chair did Pharaoh refer? He referred to the king’s chair, known as the throne.
6. What did Pharaoh mean by “Only the chair—I will be bigger than thee”? This means that the throne of the pharaoh will still be above Joseph; Pharaoh will be ‘bigger’ (more important) than Joseph.
XIX. New Rank (verses 41-43)
Pharaoh had more to say to Joseph: “See! I gave thee over all the land of Egypt!” Joseph was now in charge of the entire land. He wanted Joseph to see that he had done this. So, he removed his ring from his hand and gave the ring upon Joseph’s hand.
Pharaoh then dressed Joseph so that he would appear with the rank that he now had. He dressed him in fine linen, linen cloth made from very small threads so that it was very soft. He then decked his neck with gold.
Pharaoh had several chariots. The second chariot became the one Joseph would use. Slaves of Pharaoh would then call as Joseph came, “I will kneel!” so that everyone kneeled before Joseph. This had to occur over all the land of Egypt.
1. What did Pharaoh mean by “I gave thee over all the land of Egypt”? He ‘gave’ Joseph to be the ruler over all the land. Joseph was his property. Pharaoh had the right to set Joseph’s rank, and he did, giving Joseph to the land of Egypt. Now all of Egypt owned Joseph!
2. How can a ring be upon someone’s hand? If it is on someone’s finger, it is on the hand, since the finger is on the hand.
3. Who dressed whom? Pharaoh dressed Joseph! The text makes it sound very personal!
4. What is special about fine linen? Linen is made from a plant that looks a little like wheat; the plant is called flax. The fibers of the flax plant are used to make thread. (Does anyone have access to a spinning wheel and to someone who knows how to spin thread, who can show this?) The finer (smaller) the thread, the softer the finished cloth made from the thread will be.
The next time you are in a store that sells sheets and pillowcases, look at the packages with sheets in them. The packages will give the thread count. The more expensive sheets will have a higher thread count, because the threads are smaller (the sheets are the same sizes, so that more threads means smaller threads).
Pharaoh clothed Joseph in fine linen, a soft and very comfortable material. It is also far more expensive.
5. What is a decking of gold? It is like a necklace, but it is very wide. Its purpose is to show rank and wealth.
6. Why was it called a decking of the gold? It was the gold of Pharaoh. This way, all would see and know that Pharaoh placed him in this position.
7. Was this second chariot special? It was Pharaoh’s second chariot, one that all would recognize belongs to Pharaoh. Even the chariots had ranks attached to them!
8. Why did they call, “I will kneel”? This told hearers both what to say and what to do.
9. Who is he and who is him in, “he will be given him over all the land of Egypt”? He refers to this type of authority and respect; him refers to Joseph.
XX. Name and Freedom (verses 44-46)
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh! And no man shall elevate his hand and his foot without thee in all the land of Egypt!” Joseph now had complete authority over every person in Egypt (except Pharaoh).
He then gave Joseph a new name: Salvation of the Age.
Joseph needed a woman (wife), so Pharaoh chose Asnat who was the daughter of Poti Pherah, a priest of a god called On.
Joseph then began his duties, ‘exiting’ (going out) over the land of Egypt.
Joseph’s promotion from prison to his standing “to the faces of” (in front of) Pharaoh occurred when Joseph was thirty years old. He then left Pharaoh to cross over all the land of Egypt.
1. Why did Pharaoh start by saying, “I am Pharaoh!”? He was showing he ‘absolute’ authority. He knew that no one in Egypt would argue with this authority. If he gave Joseph authority, no one would dare argue with this!
2. What does “no man shall elevate his hand and his foot without thee in all the land of Egypt” mean? If the hand shows power and authority, no one will elevate (raise up) his own power without Joseph’s approval. If the foot shows movement, like taking action on plans or a project, no one will do anything (including anything new) without Joseph’s approval. The entire set of political (who rules), economic (how money is earned and exchanged) and social (how individuals and groups behave with each other) rules were in Joseph’s power and authority. He could do what he needed to do to bring Egypt through this famine.
3. Pharaoh gave Joseph a new name. Did Joseph like his new name? Joseph was a slave. If his slavemaster desired to rename him, Joseph knew that this was a kindness.
Joseph knew that he wasn’t the salvation of the age, but he knew that Yehovah was. Yet, Yehovah had sent him to save this age (period of time).
4. Pharaoh gave Joseph the woman Asnat. Did Pharaoh ask Joseph if he wanted her? Did Pharaoh ask Asnat or Asnat’s father if she or he desired Asnat to be married to a slave who is a sheepherder, and therefore is an abomination to the Egyptians? Pharaoh did whatever he desired to do. Asnat’s father was a priest. The priesthood had to stand with Joseph during this time, so marrying a priest’s daughter to Joseph was a very good political decision!
Pharaoh didn’t ask Joseph. He knew Joseph would be satisfied.
Pharaoh didn’t ask Asnat (as far as I know); Pharaoh didn’t normally need to ask folks; he did what he desired to do. I can’t prove it, but I suspect that Asnat felt privileged to have Pharaoh arrange this match. She would be married to the second most important person in the entire land!
I don’t know if Pharaoh asked Poti Pherah permission to marry his daughter. Poti Pherah desired to please Pharaoh. Displeasing him was a way to get killed. Poti Pherah became far more important after this marriage, since his daughter was married to the second most important person is the land of Egypt.
I have thought about this match, and how Joseph, who is an abomination (thoroughly morally and ethically disgusting) to the Egyptians because he shepherded sheep, was married to a priest’s daughter. What did she think of this? Was it a step up in rank and society for her, or was it a step down? Yet, the priests could not answer Pharaoh’s dream, and Joseph did! I knew that Joseph would win her heart, and thus her love, very soon in their marriage. Her husband was saving the entire land! Her husband was a very kind and deeply loving man who could easily show great emotions or could hide them when necessary. He had the respect and ear of Pharaoh! He was loved by Pharaoh’s chief executioner, and had the greatest respect of some who had been in prison.
5. What does “Joseph exited over the land of Egypt” mean? This means that Joseph traveled the entire land to learn all he could about every section of it so that he could:
- determine where to build the silos
- learn the cultures of the various parts of Egypt
- learn the economies (how folks make money) of the various parts of Egypt
- get to know who is a wise and respected leader in the various parts, since he would have to have others under him who could command
- get to know the various religious practices of the land so that he didn’t interfere with these things
He needed to know and understand all of the land of Egypt in order to do no harm to the various cultures and to have the most cooperation for what needed to be done.
6. How old was Joseph when he first stood before Pharaoh? He was “a son of thirty year,” the Biblical Hebrew way of saying that he was thirty years old. That may seem old, but he was very young to be taking the responsibility of an entire, very powerful country.
XXI. Gathering (verses 47-49)
The land produced fistfuls of grain—a very large amount compared to a normal crop. Joseph collected all food during these seven years. He “gave” (placed) food into cities (into storage) during this time. He stored the food of the field surrounding a city in the middle of that city. Joseph piled the grain as if it were the sand of the sea; it was so much that he quit keeping records of the amounts. No one was able to keep records of the amounts.
1. What is a fistful in this text? It is like when we use our two hands together to scoop up something like sand, and then we press it into two tight balls in our hands. Even compressed, it is a fistful. I propose that each grain stalk produced a fistful of grain. In any case, this showed that a great amount of grain was produced.
2. If he collected all food of seven years in the land of Egypt, what did the Egyptians eat? The text doesn’t say that he collected all the food of seven years, but rather all food. There are always various types of food eaten in various cultures. Joseph made certain to collect the varieties of foods grown or caught (as in fishing) while productivity was very high. Folks in every area needed to have those foods later. This means that a culture that would rely on fishing for its main foods needed to preserve fish (by smoking, salting or by some other means) so that there would be fish to eat. Dates from date palms needed to be stored; olives needed to be preserved; grapes needed to be dried to raisins so that they could be used during the time of almost no grape production. All food of every variety needed to be stored. Joseph oversaw this.
In the meantime, the Egyptians obtained normal stores of food for their daily needs as they normally did—from their lands or from the marketplace.
3. The text states, “he gave food into cities.” To whom did he give this food? He gave this food to overseers who would make certain that it was well preserved, and not used until he gave orders for it to be used.
4. What does “he gave food of a field of the city that is her surroundings into her midst” mean? This means that Joseph made sure that the storage of grain and other foods was always located in the very same city where the field was attached. Joseph never moved grain of the field or food from a field of one city to another city. He always kept the grain and food items with those who had grown the grain and the food items.
5. What does scroll mean? This describes a way of keeping records. The beginning of the record starts at the top. The records go down the page. If a scroll is used instead of a book, the records continue down the scroll until the scroll ends. Computer pages scroll!
6. What does “for there is no scrolling” mean? This means that there was no way those who kept records were able to keep up with the information! The food items were being produced and put into storage faster than they could scroll their record-keeping scrolls!
7. Who owned all this foodstuff that was put into storage? Joseph purchased it, using Pharaoh’s wealth. I learned that it belonged to Pharaoh since Joseph will sell to the Egyptians what they need for food.
XXII. Consolation (verses 50-52)
Joseph had two sons before the years of famine came. His wife was Asnat. She was the daughter of Poti Pherah (not related to Potiphar). Poti Pherah was a priest of a god named On. Joseph called the firstborn Forgetter (Manasseh) because Elohim had caused him to forget all his toil and even the house of his father. He called the second son Doubly Fruitful (Ephraim) because Elohim caused him to be fruitful in the land of his humiliation.
1. Joseph called the name of the firstborn Forgetter. Joseph said, “For Elohim made-me-forget all my toil and all the house of my father.” What toil did he forget? Did he really forget all the house of his father? What does that mean? He forgot the toil of his being a slave in Potiphar’s house, and the toil of his being a slave in prison. He even forgot all the toil that he now had to do as a slave for the joy of being a father (and, I propose, of having a very wise wife).
Joseph did forget all the house of his father, because he was so occupied with his new responsibilities. His life before he was kidnapped was now far behind him; he was part of a new world. I propose that even the faces of his brothers and father became distant in his memory.
2. What does “Elohim fruited me in the land of my humiliation” mean? The made-up word fruited means to cause to bear/produce fruit. Elohim cause Joseph to be very productive in this land, including having children (another form of fruit in the Bible).
This land was the land of his humiliation. He had been kidnapped into it, humbling him down to a slave without family. He had been stripped by Potiphar’s wife because he refused to do wrong; Potiphar found him humiliated by his wife. He had been put into prison as if he were a criminal, humiliating him. He had interpreted dreams, then he had been forgotten, humiliating him. Now, in this land, Elohim caused him to bear fruit.
XXIII. The Beginning of Famine (verses 53-54)
Seven years of very good crops and productivity in the land of Egypt finished. Seven years of famine began just as Joseph said. The famine was in all the lands. Yet, there was food in all the land of Egypt.
1. The text states, “the famine was in all the lands.” Does this mean that the famine was over the entire planet? The famine could have been over the entire planet. I could tell that it was over all the lands that were around Egypt, since folks will come to Egypt to obtain food.
2. What is the distinction between bread and food in the Bible? Since bread is the main food item for folks living in the Middle East, it is the word for food. Bread is sometimes used for food in general, and it is sometimes used just for bread. A reader must determine this; texts will almost always give clues regarding this.
XXIV. Rationing (verses 55-57)
All the land of Egypt was now in need of food. The people shouted unto Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh’s response to all Egypt was to go to Joseph. They must do whatever he told them to do.
All parts of Egypt had the famine. Joseph opened the storage silos for the people, and he ‘broke’ grain to them (he measured out portions). The famine gripped in the land; it wouldn’t let go. All came toward Egypt unto Joseph to break (portion out) grain.
1. What does “all the land of Egypt was famished” mean? This means that the land, the animals, and the people were all greatly affected by this famine. The land was not doing well, and crops were dying. The animals needed to be fed, since they were not finding what they needed from the land. The people suffered terrible crop failures, and were becoming hungry.
2. What does “the people outcried unto Pharaoh to [for] bread” mean? I made up the word outcried so that it had the meaning of shouting out, begging and demanding bread (food). They lacked food, and greatly desired to eat food that was there. They went to Pharaoh so that he would open food supplies for them.
3. Why did Pharaoh tell them to go to Joseph? That is why Pharaoh chose Joseph—to take care of all problems associated with this famine! Pharaoh didn’t desire to have to deal with this. Joseph must do it.
4. What does “the famine was over all faces of the land” tell a careful reader? It tells the careful reader that the famine was even hitting fishermen! They normally have food even when crops fail. This wasn’t the case for them. They were finding few fish and were becoming hungry.
No part of Egypt was unaffected!
5. What did Joseph open (the text states, “Joseph opened all that was in them”)? Joseph opened all the stored food that was in the cities.
6. Did the people come and take what they wanted? No; that would have led to hoarding. Instead, he broke to Egypt (see the next question regarding this).
7. What does “he broke to Egypt” mean? This means that he, Joseph, determined how much each house should get. This breaking is taking a large quantity, like a bagful, and giving part of that, and not the whole amount. It is giving it out by measure.
8. The text states, “all the land—they came—Egyptward unto Joseph to break, because the famine gripped in all the land.” What is included in “all the land”? This is more than just Egypt. Those in areas around Egypt also came to Egypt to obtain food. They came to Joseph to give them a portion to take with them.
9. Did Joseph personally give food to every individual? No; Joseph had slaves working under him who gave correctly sized portions of food to those who came so that there would be no hoarding, and so that there would be enough to last through the seven years.