Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 Two years later Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing beside the Nile,(A) when seven healthy-looking, well-fed cows came up from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, sickly and thin, came up from the Nile and stood beside those cows along the bank of the Nile. The sickly, thin cows ate the healthy, well-fed cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. He fell asleep and dreamed a second time: Seven heads of grain, plump and ripe, came up on one stalk. After them, seven heads of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind, sprouted up. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven plump, ripe ones. Then Pharaoh woke up, and it was only a dream.

When morning came, he was troubled,(B) so he summoned all the magicians of Egypt and all its wise men.(C) Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I remember my faults. 10 Pharaoh had been angry with his servants, and he put me and the chief baker in the custody of the captain of the guard. 11 He and I had dreams on the same night; each dream had its own meaning. 12 Now a young Hebrew, a slave of the captain of the guards, was with us there. We told him our dreams, he interpreted our dreams for us, and each had its own interpretation. 13 It turned out just the way he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged.”(D)

14 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the dungeon.(E) He shaved, changed his clothes, and went to Pharaoh.(F)

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said about you that you can hear a dream and interpret it.”(G)

16 “I am not able to,”(H) Joseph answered Pharaoh. “It is God who will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”[a](I)

17 So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when seven well-fed, healthy-looking cows came up from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows—ugly, very sickly, and thin—came up. I’ve never seen such ugly ones as these in all the land of Egypt. 20 Then the thin, ugly cows ate the first seven well-fed cows. 21 When they had devoured them, you could not tell that they had devoured them; their appearance was as bad as it had been before. Then I woke up. 22 In my dream I had also seen seven heads of grain, plump and ripe, coming up on one stalk. 23 After them, seven heads of grain—withered, thin, and scorched by the east wind—sprouted up. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven plump ones. I told this to the magicians, but no one can tell me what it means.”(J)

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh’s dreams mean the same thing. God has revealed to Pharaoh what He is about to do.(K) 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven ripe heads are seven years. The dreams mean the same thing. 27 The seven thin, ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, and the seven worthless, scorched heads of grain are seven years of famine.(L)

28 “It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. 29 Seven[b] years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt. 30 After them, seven years of famine will take place, and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land.(M) 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered because of the famine that follows it, for the famine will be very severe. 32 Since the dream was given twice to Pharaoh, it means that the matter has been determined by God, and He will carry it out soon.

33 “So now, let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh do this: Let him appoint overseers over the land and take a fifth of the harvest of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 Let them gather all the excess food during these good years that are coming. Under Pharaoh’s authority, store the grain in the cities, so they may preserve it as food. 36 The food will be a reserve for the land during the seven years of famine that will take place in the land of Egypt. Then the country will not be wiped out by the famine.”

Joseph Exalted

37 The proposal pleased Pharaoh and all his servants. 38 Then Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find anyone like this, a man who has God’s spirit[c] in him?”(N) 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one as intelligent and wise as you are. 40 You will be over my house, and all my people will obey your commands.[d](O) Only with regard to the throne will I be greater than you.” 41 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, “See, I am placing you over all the land of Egypt.” 42 Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, clothed him with fine linen garments, and placed a gold chain around his neck.(P) 43 He had Joseph ride in his second chariot, and servants called out before him, “Abrek!”[e] So he placed him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but no one will be able to raise his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt without your permission.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-paneah and gave him a wife, Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On.[f] And Joseph went throughout[g] the land of Egypt.

Joseph’s Administration

46 Joseph was 30 years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout the land of Egypt.

47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced outstanding harvests. 48 Joseph gathered all the excess food in the land of Egypt during the seven years and put it in the cities. He put the food in every city from the fields around it. 49 So Joseph stored up grain in such abundance—like the sand of the sea—that he stopped measuring it because it was beyond measure.

50 Two sons were born to Joseph before the years of famine arrived.(Q) Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest at On,[h] bore them to him. 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh, meaning, “God has made me forget all my hardship in my father’s house.” 52 And the second son he named Ephraim, meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53 Then the seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every country, but throughout the land of Egypt there was food. 55 Extreme hunger came to all the land of Egypt, and the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh told all Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.” 56 Because the famine had spread across the whole country, Joseph opened up all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in the land of Egypt. 57 Every nation came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain, for the famine was severe in every land.(R)

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 41:16 Or “God will answer Pharaoh with peace [of mind].”
  2. Genesis 41:29 Lit Look! Seven
  3. Genesis 41:38 Or the spirit of the gods, or a god’s spirit
  4. Genesis 41:40 Lit will kiss your mouth
  5. Genesis 41:43 Perhaps an Egyptian word meaning “Attention” or a Hb word meaning “Kneel.”
  6. Genesis 41:45 Or Heliopolis
  7. Genesis 41:45 Or Joseph gained authority over
  8. Genesis 41:50 Or Heliopolis

Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream:(A) He was standing by the Nile,(B) when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat,(C) and they grazed among the reeds.(D) After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.(E)

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain,(F) healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind.(G) The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up;(H) it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled,(I) so he sent for all the magicians(J) and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.(K)

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.(L) 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants,(M) and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.(N) 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.(O) 12 Now a young Hebrew(P) was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard.(Q) We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.(R) 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.(S)

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.(T) When he had shaved(U) and changed his clothes,(V) he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it.(W) But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”(X)

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”(Y)

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile,(Z) 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds.(AA) 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.(AB)

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same.(AC) God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.(AD) 26 The seven good cows(AE) are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.(AF)

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.(AG) 29 Seven years of great abundance(AH) are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine(AI) will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.(AJ) 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided(AK) by God, and God will do it soon.(AL)

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man(AM) and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.(AN) 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners(AO) over the land to take a fifth(AP) of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.(AQ) 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.(AR) 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt,(AS) so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.(AT) 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[a]?”(AU)

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you,(AV) there is no one so discerning and wise as you.(AW) 40 You shall be in charge of my palace,(AX) and all my people are to submit to your orders.(AY) Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.(AZ)

Joseph in Charge of Egypt

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.”(BA) 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring(BB) from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes(BC) of fine linen(BD) and put a gold chain around his neck.(BE) 43 He had him ride in a chariot(BF) as his second-in-command,[b](BG) and people shouted before him, “Make way[c]!”(BH) Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.(BI)

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.”(BJ) 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph(BK) the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest(BL) of On,[d](BM) to be his wife.(BN) And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old(BO) when he entered the service(BP) of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance(BQ) the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities.(BR) In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea;(BS) it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.(BT) 51 Joseph named his firstborn(BU) Manasseh[e](BV) and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f](BW) and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful(BX) in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine(BY) began,(BZ) just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine,(CA) the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”(CB)

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians,(CC) for the famine(CD) was severe throughout Egypt.(CE) 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph,(CF) because the famine was severe everywhere.(CG)

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 41:38 Or of the gods
  2. Genesis 41:43 Or in the chariot of his second-in-command; or in his second chariot
  3. Genesis 41:43 Or Bow down
  4. Genesis 41:45 That is, Heliopolis; also in verse 50
  5. Genesis 41:51 Manasseh sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for forget.
  6. Genesis 41:52 Ephraim sounds like the Hebrew for twice fruitful.

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