When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream. In his dream, he was standing by the Nile River.
Seven cows came up out of the river. They looked healthy and fat. They were eating some of the tall grass that was growing along the river.
After them, seven other cows came up out of the Nile. They looked ugly and skinny. They were standing beside the other cows on the riverbank.
The ugly, skinny cows ate up the seven cows that looked healthy and fat. Then Pharaoh woke up.
He fell asleep again and had a second dream. In that dream, seven heads of grain were growing on one stem. They were healthy and good.
After them, seven other heads of grain came up. They were thin and dried up by the east wind.
The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up. It had been a dream.
In the morning he was worried. So he sent for all of the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams. But no one could tell him what they meant.
Then the chief wine taster spoke up. He said to Pharaoh, "Now I remember that I've done something wrong.
Pharaoh was once angry with his servants. He put me and the chief baker in prison. We were in the house of the captain of the palace guard.
Each of us had a dream the same night. Each dream had its own meaning.
"A young Hebrew servant was there with us. He was a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams. And he explained them to us. He told each of us the meaning of our dreams.
Things turned out exactly as he said they would. I was given back my position. The other man had a pole stuck through his body."
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. He was quickly brought out of the prison. Joseph shaved himself and changed his clothes. Then he came to Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream. No one can tell me what it means. But I've heard that when you hear a dream you can explain it."
"I can't do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh. "But God will give Pharaoh the answer he wants."
Then Pharaoh told Joseph what he had dreamed. He said, "I was standing on the bank of the Nile River.
Seven cows came up out of the river. They were fat and good-looking. They were eating the tall grass that was growing along the river.
"After them, seven other cows came up. They were bony and very ugly and thin. I had never seen such ugly cows in the whole land of Egypt.
"The thin, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first.
But even after the thin cows ate up the fat ones, no one could tell that they had eaten them. They looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.
"In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain. They were full and good. They were all growing on one stem.
"After them, seven other heads of grain came up. They were weak and thin and dried up by the east wind.
"The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told my dreams to the magicians. But none of them could explain them to me."
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "Both of Pharaoh's dreams have the same meaning. God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.
The seven good cows are seven years. And the seven good heads of grain are seven years. Both dreams mean the same thing.
"The seven thin, ugly cows that came up later are seven years. So are the seven worthless heads of grain that were dried up by the east wind. They are seven years when there won't be enough food.
"It's exactly as I said to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what he's about to do.
Seven years with plenty of food are coming to the whole land of Egypt.
"But seven years when there won't be enough food will follow them. Then everyone will forget about all of the food Egypt had. Terrible hunger will destroy the land.
There won't be anything left to remind people of the years when there was plenty of food in the land. That's how bad the hunger that follows will be.
"God gave the dream to Pharaoh in two forms. That's because the matter has been firmly decided by God. And it's because God will do it soon.
"So Pharaoh should look for a wise and understanding man. He should put him in charge of the land of Egypt.
"Pharaoh should appoint officials to be in charge of the land. They should take a fifth of the harvest in Egypt during the seven years when there's plenty of food.
They should collect all of the extra food of the good years that are coming. Pharaoh should give them authority to store up the grain. They should keep it in the cities for food.
"The grain should be stored up for the country to use later. It will be needed during the seven years when there isn't enough food in Egypt. Then the country won't be destroyed just because it doesn't have enough food."
The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and all of his officials.
So Pharaoh said to them, "The spirit of God is in this man. We can't find anyone else like him, can we?"
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "God has made all of this known to you. No one is as wise and understanding as you are.
You will be in charge of my palace. All of my people must obey your orders. I will be greater than you only because I'm the one who sits on the throne."
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I'm putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt."
Then Pharaoh took his ring off his finger. It was the ring he used to stamp all of the official papers. He put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes that were made out of fine linen. He put a gold chain around his neck.
He also had him ride in a chariot. Joseph was now next in command after Pharaoh. People went in front of him and shouted, "Get down on your knees!" By doing all of those things, Pharaoh put Joseph in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh. But without your word, no one will do anything in the whole land of Egypt."
Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He gave him a wife. She was Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera. Potiphera was the priest of On. Joseph traveled all over the land of Egypt.
Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. He left Pharaoh's palace and traveled all over Egypt.
During the seven years when there was plenty of food, the land produced more than the people needed.
Joseph collected all of the extra food produced in those seven years in Egypt. He stored it in the cities. In each city he stored up the food that was grown in the fields around it.
Joseph stored up huge amounts of grain. It was like the sand of the sea. There was so much grain it couldn't be measured. So Joseph stopped keeping records of it.
Before the years when there wasn't enough food, two sons were born to Joseph. He had them by Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera. Potiphera was the priest of On.
Joseph named his first son Manasseh. That's because he said, "God has made me forget all of my trouble and my father's whole family."
He named the second son Ephraim. That's because he said, "God has given me children in the land where I've suffered so much."
The seven years when there was plenty of food in Egypt came to an end.
Then the seven years when there wasn't enough food began. It happened exactly as Joseph had said it would. There wasn't enough food in any of the other lands. But in the whole land of Egypt there was food.
When all of the people of Egypt began to get hungry, they cried out to Pharaoh for food. He told all of the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you."
There wasn't enough food anywhere in the country. So Joseph opened the storerooms. He sold grain to the Egyptians because people were very hungry all over Egypt.
People from all of the other countries came to Egypt. They came to buy grain from Joseph. That's because people were very hungry all over the world.