Genesis 40

Joseph Interprets a Dream

1 Then it came about after these things, 1the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, the king of Egypt.
2 Pharaoh was 2furious with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker.
3 So he put them in confinement in the house of the 3captain of the bodyguard, in the jail *, the same place where * Joseph was imprisoned.
4 The captain of the bodyguard put Joseph in charge of them, and he took care of them; and they were in confinement for some time.
5 Then the cupbearer and the baker for the king of Egypt, who were confined in jail *, both had a dream the same night, each man with his own dream and each dream with its own interpretation.
6 When Joseph came to them in the morning and observed them, behold, they were dejected.
7 He asked Pharaoh's officials who were with him in confinement in his master's house, "4Why are your faces so sad today?"
8 Then they said to him, "5We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it." Then Joseph said to them, "6Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please."
9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, "In my dream, behold, there was a vine in front of me;
10 and on the vine were three branches. And as it was budding, its blossoms came out, and its clusters produced ripe grapes.
11 "Now Pharaoh's cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I put the cup into Pharaoh's hand."
12 Then Joseph said to him, "This is the 7interpretation of it: the three branches are three days;
13 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you will put Pharaoh's cup into his hand according to your former custom when you were his cupbearer.
14 "Only * keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please 8do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this house.
15 "For 9I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing * that they should have put me into the dungeon."
16 When the chief baker saw that he had interpreted favorably, he said to Joseph, "I also saw in my dream, and behold, there were three baskets of white bread on my head;
17 and in the top basket there were some of all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head."
18 Then Joseph answered and said, "This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days;
19 within three more days Pharaoh will lift up your head from you and will hang you on a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh off * you."
20 Thus it came about on the third day, which was 10Pharaoh's birthday *, that he made a feast for all his servants; 11and he lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants.
21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, and 12he put the cup into Pharaoh's hand;
22 but 13he hanged the chief baker, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23 Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but 14forgot 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 14

  • 1. Genesis 40:11, 13; Nehemiah 1:11
  • 2. Proverbs 16:14
  • 3. Genesis 39:1, 20
  • 4. Nehemiah 2:2
  • 5. Genesis 41:15
  • 6. Genesis 41:16; Daniel 2:27, 28
  • 7. Daniel 2:36; Daniel 4:18, 19
  • 8. Joshua 2:12; 1 Samuel 20:14; 1 Kings 2:7
  • 9. Genesis 37:26-28
  • 10. Matthew 14:6
  • 11. 2 Kings 25:27; Jeremiah 52:31
  • 12. Genesis 40:13
  • 13. Genesis 40:19; Esther 7:10
  • 14. Job 19:14; Psalms 31:12; Ecclesiastes 9:15

Footnotes 16

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