Genesis 41:1-40

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.”
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.
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.”
25 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.
26 The seven good cows 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.
28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.
29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,
30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.
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 by God, and God will do it soon.
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt.
34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.
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.
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, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.
38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[a] ?”
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you.
40 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.”

Genesis 41:1-40 Meaning and Commentary


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.

Cross References 52

  • 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
  • 26. S ver 1
  • 27. S ver 2
  • 28. S ver 8
  • 29. S Genesis 40:12
  • 30. S Genesis 40:8; Isaiah 46:11; Daniel 2:45
  • 31. S ver 2
  • 32. S Genesis 12:10; 2 Kings 8:1
  • 33. S Genesis 40:8
  • 34. ver 47
  • 35. ver 54; Genesis 45:6,11; Genesis 47:13; Psalms 105:16
  • 36. ver 56; S Genesis 12:10
  • 37. Daniel 2:5; Numbers 23:19; Isaiah 46:10-11
  • 38. S Genesis 40:8
  • 39. ver 39
  • 40. S Genesis 39:9
  • 41. Esther 2:3
  • 42. Genesis 47:24,26; 1 Samuel 8:15
  • 43. ver 48; Genesis 47:14
  • 44. ver 48
  • 45. ver 56; Genesis 42:6; Genesis 47:14
  • 46. Genesis 45:16; Esther 2:4; Isaiah 19:11
  • 47. Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 34:9; Job 32:8; Daniel 2:11; Daniel 4:8-9,18; Daniel 5:11,14
  • 48. Daniel 2:11; Daniel 5:11
  • 49. ver 33
  • 50. 1 Kings 4:6; 2 Kings 15:5; Isaiah 22:15; Isaiah 36:3
  • 51. S Genesis 39:9; Psalms 105:21-22; Acts 7:10
  • 52. Esther 10:3

Footnotes 1

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