When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,
when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.
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.
He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk.
After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted--thin and scorched 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 his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.
Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, "Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.
Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.
Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.
And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged."
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
"I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile,
when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds.
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.
The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first.
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.
"In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk.
After them, seven other heads sprouted--withered and thin and scorched by the east wind.
The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me."
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, "The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.
The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream.
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.
"It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.
Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,
but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.
The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.
The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.
"And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.
Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.
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.
This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine."
The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.
So Pharaoh asked them, "Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God ?"
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.
You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you."
So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt."
Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and men shouted before him, "Make way !" Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt."
Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.
Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh's presence and traveled throughout Egypt.
During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully.
Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it.
Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.
Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, "It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household."
The second son he named Ephraim and said, "It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering."
The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end,
and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food.
When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph and do what he tells you."
When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt.
And all the countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe in all the world.
When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you just keep looking at each other?"
He continued, "I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die."
Then ten of Joseph's brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt.
But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph's brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.
So Israel's sons were among those who went to buy grain, for the famine was in the land of Canaan also.
Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the one who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph's brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.
As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. "Where do you come from?" he asked. "From the land of Canaan," they replied, "to buy food."
Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.
Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, "You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected."
"No, my lord," they answered. "Your servants have come to buy food.
We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies."
"No!" he said to them. "You have come to see where our land is unprotected."
But they replied, "Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more."
Joseph said to them, "It is just as I told you: You are spies!
And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here.
Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!"
And he put them all in custody for three days.
On the third day, Joseph said to them, "Do this and you will live, for I fear God:
If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households.
But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die." This they proceeded to do.
They said to one another, "Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that's why this distress has come upon us."
Reuben replied, "Didn't I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn't listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood."
They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.
He turned away from them and began to weep, but then turned back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes.
Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man's silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them,
they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left.
At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack.
"My silver has been returned," he said to his brothers. "Here it is in my sack." Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, "What is this that God has done to us?"
When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said,
"The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land.
But we said to him, 'We are honest men; we are not spies.
We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.'
"Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, 'This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go.
But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.' "
As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man's sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened.
Their father Jacob said to them, "You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!"
Then Reuben said to his father, "You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back."
But Jacob said, "My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow."