Genesis 40

Listen to Genesis 40
1 Some time later, Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer and chief baker offended their royal master.
2 Pharaoh became angry with these two officials,
3 and he put them in the prison where Joseph was, in the palace of the captain of the guard.
4 They remained in prison for quite some time, and the captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, who looked after them.
5 While they were in prison, Pharaoh’s cup-bearer and baker each had a dream one night, and each dream had its own meaning.
6 When Joseph saw them the next morning, he noticed that they both looked upset.
7 “Why do you look so worried today?” he asked them.
8 And they replied, “We both had dreams last night, but no one can tell us what they mean.” “Interpreting dreams is God’s business,” Joseph replied. “Go ahead and tell me your dreams.”
9 So the chief cup-bearer told Joseph his dream first. “In my dream,” he said, “I saw a grapevine in front of me.
10 The vine had three branches that began to bud and blossom, and soon it produced clusters of ripe grapes.
11 I was holding Pharaoh’s wine cup in my hand, so I took a cluster of grapes and squeezed the juice into the cup. Then I placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
12 “This is what the dream means,” Joseph said. “The three branches represent three days.
13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift you up and restore you to your position as his chief cup-bearer.
14 And please remember me and do me a favor when things go well for you. Mention me to Pharaoh, so he might let me out of this place.
15 For I was kidnapped from my homeland, the land of the Hebrews, and now I’m here in prison, but I did nothing to deserve it.”
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given the first dream such a positive interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I had a dream, too. In my dream there were three baskets of white pastries stacked on my head.
17 The top basket contained all kinds of pastries for Pharaoh, but the birds came and ate them from the basket on my head.”
18 “This is what the dream means,” Joseph told him. “The three baskets also represent three days.
19 Three days from now Pharaoh will lift you up and impale your body on a pole. Then birds will come and peck away at your flesh.”
20 Pharaoh’s birthday came three days later, and he prepared a banquet for all his officials and staff. He summoned his chief cup-bearer and chief baker to join the other officials.
21 He then restored the chief cup-bearer to his former position, so he could again hand Pharaoh his cup.
22 But Pharaoh impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had predicted when he interpreted his dream.
23 Pharaoh’s chief cup-bearer, however, forgot all about Joseph, never giving him another thought.

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.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Hebrew He lifted up the head of.

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 40

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