18 Feb. Genesis 41:1-14

18 Feb. Joseph is brought before the king of Egypt

“Two years later the king dreamed he was standing on the bank of the River Nile. He saw seven fat and beautiful cows come up out of the river, and they stood there, eating the grass.”

“Then seven more cows came up out of the river, but they were thin and ugly. They stood beside the seven beautiful cows on the bank of the Nile. The seven thin and ugly cows ate the seven beautiful fat cows. Then the king woke up.”

“The king slept again and dreamed a second time. In his dream he saw seven full and good heads of grain growing on one stalk. After that, seven more heads of grain sprang up, but they were thin and burned by the hot east wind. The thin heads of grain ate the seven full and good heads. Then the king woke up again, and he realised it was only a dream.”

“The next morning the king was troubled about these dreams, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. The king told them his dreams, but no one could explain their meaning to him.”

“Then the chief officer who served wine to the king said to him, ‘Now I remember something I promised to do, but I forgot about it. There was a time when you were angry with the baker and me, and you put us in prison in the house of the captain of the guard.’”

“’In prison we each had a dream on the same night, and each dream had a different meaning. A young Hebrew man, a servant of the captain of the guard, was in the prison with us. When we told him our dreams, he explained their meanings to us. He told each man the meaning of his dream, and things happened exactly as he said they would: I was given back my old position, and the baker was hanged.’”

“So the king called for Joseph. The guards quickly brought him out of the prison, and he shaved, put on clean clothes and went before the king.”

          (Genesis 41:1-14)

 


 

What were the chances of Joseph – the eleventh son of an obscure Hebrew pastoralist in the semi-arid uplands of southern Canaan – being brought into the presence of the most powerful king in the eastern Mediterranean world? Under normal circumstances, the chances were virtually nil.

But these weren’t normal circumstances. God’s hand was on Joseph, and when God is in charge absolutely anything – however unlikely it may seem – is possible.

So two years after Joseph had interpreted the dreams of the baker and the wine steward, the Egyptian Pharaoh had a series of amazing dreams. In the first dream, the king saw seven fat and beautiful cows grazing the fertile land alongside the River Nile. Then seven thin and decimated cows appeared and destroyed the seven healthy cows.

In a second dream, also set in the irrigated fields alongside the Nile, a bountiful crop of ripe grain was succeeded by a poor harvest that was dried and burned up by a hot easterly wind.

The king was very disturbed by his dreams – perceived as a message from the gods – as the pharaoh was ultimately responsible for feeding all those in his kingdom, and both dreams were about the food upon which the prosperity of the kingdom was established.

Egypt had already been a prosperous and powerful kingdom for fifteen centuries when Joseph was brought before the king in c.1670BC. Under a succession of twelve pharaonic dynasties, the annual flooding of the River Nile had been used over the centuries to transform the fertile low-lying lands of the Nile Delta into the breadbasket of Egypt.

So the king was rightly concerned, and assembled all the religious leaders and holy men of his court to interpret this message from the gods. But none of the Egyptian holy men was able to explain Pharaoh’s dreams.

Only then did Pharaoh’s cupbearer remember Joseph - who had correctly interpreted his own dream two years earlier. So Joseph was duly called into the king’s presence to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams.

The photo shows crops growing on a fertile smallholding alongside the River Nile.

You can read more about Joseph and the Egypt of his day @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/24-the-journeys-of-isaac-jacob-joseph/joseph-becomes-vizier-of-egypt


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