Genesis 40

The Cupbearer and the Baker

1 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt.
2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker,
3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined.
4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. After they had been in custody for some time,
5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected.
7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”
8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”
9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me,
10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes.
11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.”
12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days.
13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.
14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison.
15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.”
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread.[a]
17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days.
19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.”
20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials:
21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—
22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation.
23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.

Genesis 40 Commentary

Chapter 40

The chief butler and baker of Pharaoh in prison, Their dreams interpreted by Joseph. (1-19) The ingratitude of the chief butler. (20-23)

Verses 1-19 It was not so much the prison that made the butler and baker sad, as their dreams. God has more ways than one to sadden the spirits. Joseph had compassion towards them. Let us be concerned for the sadness of our brethren's countenances. It is often a relief to those that are in trouble to be noticed. Also learn to look into the causes of our own sorrow. Is there a good reason? Is there not comfort sufficient to balance it, whatever it is? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Joseph was careful to ascribe the glory to God. The chief butler's dream foretold his advancement. The chief baker's dream his death. It was not Joseph's fault that he brought the baker no better tidings. And thus ministers are but interpreters; they cannot make the thing otherwise than it is: if they deal faithfully, and their message prove unpleasing, it is not their fault. Joseph does not reflect upon his brethren that sold him; nor does he reflect on the wrong done him by his mistress and his master, but mildly states his own innocence. When we are called on to clear ourselves, we should carefully avoid, as much as may be, speaking ill of others. Let us be content to prove ourselves innocent, and not upbraid others with their guilt.

Verses 20-23 Joseph's interpretation of the dreams came to pass on the very day fixed. On Pharaoh's birth-day, all his servants attended him, and then the cases of these two came to be looked into. We may all profitably take notice of our birth-days, with thankfulness for the mercies of our birth, sorrow for the sinfulness of our lives, and expectation of the day of our death, as better than the day of our birth. But it seems strange that worldly people, who are so fond of living here, should rejoice at the end of one year after another of their short span of life. A Christian has cause to rejoice that he was born, also that he comes nearer to the end of his sin and sorrow, and nearer to his everlasting happiness. The chief butler remembered not Joseph, but forgot him. Joseph had deserved well at his hands, yet he forgot him. We must not think it strange, if in this world we have hatred shown us for our love, and slights for our kindness. See how apt those who are themselves at ease are to forget others in distress. Joseph learned by his disappointment to trust in God only. We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God. Let us not forget the sufferings, promises, and love of our Redeemer. We blame the chief butler's ingratitude to Joseph, yet we ourselves act much more ungratefully to the Lord Jesus. Joseph had but foretold the chief butler's enlargement, but Christ wrought out ours; he mediated with the King of Kings for us; yet we forget him, though often reminded of him, and though we have promised never to forget him. Thus ill do we requite Him, like foolish people and unwise.

Cross References 44

  • 1. ver 9,13,21; Nehemiah 1:11
  • 2. ver 16,20
  • 3. Proverbs 16:14,15; Proverbs 19:12
  • 4. Genesis 41:10; Esther 2:21
  • 5. S Genesis 37:36; S Genesis 39:20
  • 6. S Genesis 37:36
  • 7. S Genesis 39:4
  • 8. ver 7; Genesis 42:17
  • 9. S Genesis 20:3
  • 10. Genesis 41:11
  • 11. S ver 4
  • 12. Nehemiah 2:2
  • 13. Genesis 41:8,15
  • 14. Genesis 41:16,25,28,32">Genesis 41:16,25,28,32; Deuteronomy 29:29; Da 2:22,28,47">Da 2:22,28,47; Genesis 41:16; Da 2:22,28,47">Da 2:22,28,47
  • 15. S ver 1
  • 16. Isaiah 27:6; Isaiah 35:1-2; Hosea 14:7
  • 17. ver 16; Ge 41:12,15,25; Daniel 2:36; Daniel 4:19
  • 18. ver 18
  • 19. ver 19,20; Joshua 1:11; Joshua 3:2; Ezra 8:32; Nehemiah 2:11
  • 20. ver 19
  • 21. S ver 1
  • 22. 1 Samuel 25:31; Luke 23:42
  • 23. S Genesis 19:19; Joshua 2:12; 1 Samuel 20:14,42; 2 Samuel 9:1; 1 Kings 2:7
  • 24. ver 23; Genesis 41:9; Ecclesiastes 9:15
  • 25. S Genesis 14:13; Genesis 37:26-28
  • 26. Genesis 39:20; Job 13:27
  • 27. S ver 1
  • 28. S ver 12
  • 29. Amos 8:1-2
  • 30. ver 12
  • 31. ver 13
  • 32. S ver 13
  • 33. ver 22; Deuteronomy 21:22-23; Esther 2:23; Esther 7:10
  • 34. Deuteronomy 28:26; 1 Samuel 17:44; 2 Samuel 21:10; 1 Kings 14:11; 1 Kings 16:4; 1 Kings 21:24; Ezekiel 39:4
  • 35. S ver 13
  • 36. Matthew 14:6-10
  • 37. Esther 2:18; Mark 6:21
  • 38. S ver 1
  • 39. S ver 1
  • 40. 2 Kings 25:27; Jeremiah 52:31
  • 41. ver 13
  • 42. S ver 19
  • 43. Genesis 41:13; Psalms 105:19
  • 44. S ver 14; S Ecclesiastes 1:11; Job 19:14; Ecclesiastes 9:15

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Or "three wicker baskets"

Chapter Summary


The history of this chapter is, the imprisonment of two of Pharaoh's officers, his chief butler and chief baker, who by the captain of the guard were made the charge of Joseph, Ge 40:1-4; they both dreamed in prison, which made them sad; Joseph taking notice of their sadness, asked the reason of it, and encouraged them to tell him their dreams, Ge 40:5-8; the chief butler told his dream of the vine and three branches, which Joseph interpreted of his restoration to his office within three days, and desired him to remember him unto Pharaoh when he stood before him, telling him his case, Ge 40:9-15; then the chief baker told his dream of three white baskets of food on his head, which the birds ate, and this Joseph interpreted of his being hanged within three days, Ge 40:16-19; and the events answered to the interpretation, but Joseph was forgot by the chief butler, Ge 40:20-23.

Genesis 40 Commentaries

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