Genesis 41:1-16

Pharaoh’s Dreams

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,
2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.
3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.
4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk.
6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind.
7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
8 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.
9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.
10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.
11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
12 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.
13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
14 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.
15 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.”
16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

Genesis 41:1-16 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 41

In this chapter are related Pharaoh's dreams, which his magicians could not interpret, Ge 41:1-9, upon which the chief butler now remembering Joseph, recommended him to Pharaoh as an interpreter, having had an happy experience of him as such himself, Ge 41:10-13, when Joseph was sent for out of prison; and Pharaoh having related his dreams, he interpreted them of seven years of plenty, and seven years of famine, that should be in the land of Egypt, Ge 41:14-32; and having done, he gave his advice to provide in the years of plenty against the years of famine, and proposed a scheme for doing it, which was approved of by Pharaoh and his ministers, Ge 41:33-37; and Joseph himself was pitched upon as the most proper person to execute it, and was appointed chief over the kingdom next to Pharaoh, who gave him a new name and a wife upon this occasion, Ge 41:38-45; accordingly, in the years of plenty he took a tour throughout the whole land, and gathered and laid up food in vast quantities in every city, Ge 41:46-49; an account is given of two sons born to Joseph, and of their names, Ge 41:50-52; and of the seven years of famine, beginning to come on at the end of the seven years of plenty, which brought great distress on the land of Egypt, and the countries round about, who all came to Joseph to buy corn, Ge 41:53-57.

Genesis 41:1-16 In-Context

1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile,
2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.
3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.
4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk.
6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind.
7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
8 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.
9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.
10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard.
11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.
12 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.
13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
14 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.
15 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.”
16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile,
18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds.
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.

Cross References 25

  • 1. S Genesis 20:3
  • 2. ver 17; S Genesis 2:14; Exodus 1:22; Exodus 2:5; Exodus 7:15
  • 3. ver 26; Jeremiah 5:28
  • 4. ver 18; Exodus 2:3; Job 40:21; Isaiah 19:6
  • 5. ver 7
  • 6. Joshua 13:3; 2 Kings 4:42; 1 Chronicles 13:5; Isaiah 23:3; Jeremiah 2:18
  • 7. Exodus 10:13; Exodus 14:21; Job 6:26; Job 11:2; Job 15:2; Psalms 11:6; Psalms 48:7; Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 27:8; Jeremiah 4:11; Jeremiah 18:17; Ezekiel 19:12; Ezekiel 27:26; Hosea 12:1; Hosea 13:15; John 4:8
  • 8. ver 4
  • 9. Job 7:14; Daniel 2:1,3; Daniel 4:5,19
  • 10. Exodus 7:11,22; Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2,27; Daniel 4:7; Daniel 5:7
  • 11. ver 24; S Genesis 40:8; Daniel 4:18
  • 12. S Genesis 40:14
  • 13. S Genesis 40:2
  • 14. S Genesis 37:36; S Genesis 39:20
  • 15. Genesis 40:5
  • 16. S Genesis 14:13; Genesis 39:17
  • 17. S Genesis 37:36; Genesis 40:4
  • 18. S Genesis 40:12
  • 19. S Genesis 40:22
  • 20. Psalms 105:20; Daniel 2:25
  • 21. Isaiah 18:2,7
  • 22. S Genesis 35:2; Genesis 45:22; Ruth 3:3; 2 Samuel 12:20
  • 23. S Genesis 40:8
  • 24. S Genesis 40:12; Daniel 4:18; Daniel 5:16
  • 25. S Genesis 40:8; Daniel 2:30; Acts 3:12; 2 Corinthians 3:5