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Genesis 40:4b-17

  1. .
    Gen 40:4b-8a . . After they had been in custody for some time, 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.

    . . .When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh's officials who were in custody with him in his master's house: Why are your faces so sad today? 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?


    Actually, in the literal, Joseph said: Aren't interpretations with the gods? Because the word for "God" isn't Yhvh, rather, it's 'elohiym (el-o-heem') which isn't one of the creator's proper names, but a generic plural noun for all gods, both the true and the false, i.e. the real and the imagined.

    Gen 40:8b . . Please tell me.

    There's no record up to this point of Joseph ever interpreting a dream, not even his own. He dreamed in the past (e.g. Gen 37:5-7, Gen 37:9) but at the time he didn't know what his dreams meant; and in this particular instance, I seriously doubt he believed himself able to interpret a one. I think he was just curious. Jail is boring; what else was there to talk about? So what's going to happen next was probably just as big a surprise to him as it was to them.

    Incidentally, there's no record of God ever speaking one-on-one with Joseph. He believed God was providentially active in his life, but was given no apparitions of any kind whatsoever to corroborate his confidence other than the fulfillment of his interpretations of people's dreams; which aren't eo ipso evidence of God at work. (e.g. Acts 16:16)

    People's dreams normally don't stick in their memories for very long; but these two men's dreams seemed (to them anyway) to be of a mysteriously symbolic significance, and so disturbing that they can't get the details out of their minds.

    In psychoanalysis, dreams are of interest because they're often expressions of subconscious anxieties and inner conflicts rather than portents and/or omens.

    Dreams are both common and normal, and surely no one should try to derive a message from God out of them. But these men's dreams defied psychoanalysis because they were so weird and unnatural.

    Had they been at liberty, they no doubt would have contacted one of Pharaoh's astrologers, or an occultist or a diviner, or a highly intuitive wiz kid to tell them the meanings. But for now they're stuck with Joseph-- a nice enough young fellow; but a total unknown in their world regarding matters of paranormal precognition.

    Gen 40:9-13 . .Then the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph. He said to him: In my dream, there was a vine in front of me. On the vine were three branches. It had barely budded, when out came its blossoms and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh's hand.

    . . . Joseph said to him: This is its interpretation: The three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will pardon you and restore you to your post; you will place Pharaoh's cup in his hand, as was your custom formerly when you were his cupbearer.


    From whence Joseph got his interpretation isn't stated. Genesis doesn't say he heard a voice, nor does it clearly say that God gave Joseph the interpretation. For all Joseph knew, (and them too) he was just taking a wild guess. It probably came right out of his head sort of like intuition or an imaginative locution.

    Gen 40:14 . . But remember me when all is well with you again, and do me the kindness of mentioning me to Pharaoh, so as to free me from this place.

    Don't worry, he won't; nor did he promise to.

    Gen 40:15 . . For in truth, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews; nor have I done anything here that they should have put me in the dungeon.

    Joseph was telling the truth, but not the whole truth. He was in prison for the crime of rape. Whether he actually did it or not is immaterial. And he wasn't realistic: Joseph couldn't reasonably expect a courtier to take the word of a criminal; and a slave at that.

    Gen 40:16a . .When the chief baker saw how favorably he had interpreted,

    Apparently, for reasons unstated, the baker was somewhat reluctant to share his dream with Joseph at first, but relented when the first dream had a happy ending.

    Gen 40:16b-17 . . he said to Joseph: In my dream, similarly, there were three openwork baskets on my head. In the uppermost basket were all kinds of food for Pharaoh that a baker prepares; and the birds were eating it out of the basket above my head.

    Birds are usually an ill omen in Scripture; sort of like the connotation borne by serpents. So, now it comes out why the baker was reluctant to tell his dream. If Pharaoh ever suspected that his food was being picked over by birds, he would be very disappointed in the quality of the care that a potentate had a right to expect from his own personal team of cooks. Food left uncovered, exposed and out in the open, is certainly not food fit for a king.

    The baker's dream may have been his subconscious at work reminiscing the error of his ways. Up till now, the baker had no doubt insisted upon his innocence; which was nothing less than feigned since he knew very well with whom the real fault lay between himself and the cupbearer.

    Apparently Pharaoh had actually gotten some sort of food poisoning, and the investigation underway by Potiphar sought to find the source; and likely to determine if it was in any way evidence of a conspiracy to assassinate Pharaoh.
    _

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