Gen. 41:1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.
Gen. 41:2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.
Gen. 41:3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.
Gen. 41:4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.
Gen. 41:5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.
Gen. 41:6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.
Gen. 41:7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
Gen. 41:8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.
Two years later Pharaoh had a dream. He dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River (the main river in Egypt) and seven sleek and fat cows came to graze among the reeds. Then seven gaunt and ugly cows came up out of the river and ate the first seven cows. Then he woke up. He fell asleep again and dreamed that seven heads of healthy grain were growing on one stalk. After that, seven different heads of grain grew up that were thin and scorched by the wind. The unhealthy heads of grain swallowed the seven healthy heads of grain. Then he woke up again. He was quite troubled the next morning and sent for all his wise men and magicians. He told them the dreams, but no one could interpret them.
Historical note from Morris: “ The cow was the emblem of Isis, the revered Egyptian goddess of fertility.”
Gen. 41:9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:
Gen. 41:10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker:
Gen. 41:11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.
Gen. 41:12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.
Gen. 41:13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
Finally, the chief butler remembered Joseph and admitted he had done wrong by not mentioning him earlier. He reminded Pharaoh of the time he had put him and the chief baker in prison. Then he told Pharaoh how they had dreamed; and Joseph, a Hebrew who served the captain of the guard, had interpreted their dreams. And events had proven his interpretations to be true.
Clarke regarding the butler: “It is not possible he could have forgotten the circumstance to which he here alludes; it was too intimately connected with all that was dear to him, to permit him ever to forget it. But it was not convenient for him to remember this before; and probably he would not have remembered it now, had he not seen, that giving this information in such a case was likely to serve his own interest. We are justified in thinking evil of this man because of his scandalous neglect of a person who foretold the rescue of his life from imminent destruction, and who, being unjustly confined, prayed to have his case fairly represented to the king that justice might be done him; but this courtier, though then in the same circumstances himself, found it convenient to forget the poor, friendless Hebrew slave!”
Gen. 41:14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.
Gen. 41:15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.
Gen. 41:16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
Gen. 41:17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:
Gen. 41:18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:
Gen. 41:19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:
Gen. 41:20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:
Gen. 41:21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.
Gen. 41:22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:
Gen. 41:23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:
Gen. 41:24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.
Pharaoh had Joseph brought up from the dungeon. He was allowed (or more likely required) to shave and change clothes before being brought before Pharaoh. The king told him that he had had dreams that no one could interpret and that he had heard that Joseph could interpret dreams. Joseph quickly told Pharaoh that it was God who gave him the interpretations. Then Pharaoh told Joseph his dreams.
Application from Guzik: “Pharaoh’s dream was actually a revelation from God. He received it, but could not understand it. It was like a person who reads the Bible, but needs help from a man or woman of God to understand.”
Gen. 41:25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.
Gen. 41:26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.
Gen. 41:27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.
Gen. 41:28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.
Gen. 41:29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:
Gen. 41:30 And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;
Gen. 41:31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.
Gen. 41:32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.
Joseph explained to Pharaoh that his dreams were basically one and the same. The seven fat cows and healthy heads of grain represented seven years of plenty. The gaunt cows and scorched grain represented seven years of famine. The dream was a revelation that Egypt would experience seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. The abundance of the first seven years would soon be forgotten because the famine to follow would be so severe. Then he explained that the fact that he had two dreams emphasized that God had determined that this would certainly happen—and soon.
Gen. 41:33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.
Gen. 41:34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.
Gen. 41:35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.
Gen. 41:36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.
Joseph went on to give Pharaoh advice on how to prepare for the seven years of famine. (This is a prisoner from the dungeon presuming to advise the King. Joseph was totally confident in his God and in following Him obediently.) He told Pharaoh to find a discerning and wise man to put in charge of the land of Egypt. He should appoint commissioners to take a fifth of the harvest in the seven good years and store the grain under the authority of the Pharaoh. These reserves would then provide for Egypt during the years of famine, and Egypt would not be ruined.
Guzik: “Now, Joseph began to apply wisdom to the knowledge. It’s good to remember the difference between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge tells you what is going on; wisdom tells you what to do about it. Knowledge is the diagnosis; wisdom is directed to the cure.”
And again: "Joseph didn’t have to preach a sermon or lead a prayer for Pharaoh to see the Spirit of God upon him. He could see it in his character, in his message, in his knowledge, in his wisdom, and in his humility. The presence and power of the Holy Spirit can be seen in very practical ways, in our character, in our humility.”
Gen. 41:37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.
Gen. 41:38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?
Gen. 41:39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:
Gen. 41:40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.
Gen. 41:41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.
Gen. 41:42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph’s hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;
Gen. 41:43 And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Gen. 41:44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.
Gen. 41:45 And Pharaoh called Joseph’s name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.
Gen. 41:46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.
Pharaoh and his officials liked the plan. Pharaoh asked his servants if there was anyone like Joseph who had the spirit of the gods. He turned to Joseph and said that since God had made all this known to him, no one must be as discerning and wise as he. So he made him the highest ruler in the land of Egypt, subject only to the Pharaoh. (I think Pharaoh recognized that Joseph’s God was a powerful god—but I don’t think he realized that He was THE God.) Pharaoh then took the signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s hand. He dressed Joseph in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. He also assigned him to ride in the second chariot, and the people were made to bow before him. All of these actions testified to his newly appointed position. He explained that he was Pharaoh, but that everyone else in the land would answer to Joseph. He gave Joseph an Egyptian name, Zaphnathpaaneah, and gave him Asenath, the daughter of the priest of On, as his wife. Joseph was 30 years old at that time.
On = “The Egyptian city Heliopolis (“city of the sun”). Located at the southern tip of the Nile Delta….” (Eerdman’s Dictionary)
Clarke re “stood before Pharaoh” - “This phrase always means admission to the immediate presence of the sovereign, and having the honor of his most unlimited confidence. Among the Asiatic princes, the privilege of coming even to their seat, of standing before them, etc., was granted only to the highest favorites.”
Gen. 41:47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.
Gen. 41:48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.
Gen. 41:49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.
Joseph traveled throughout the land of Egypt and supervised the collection and storage of the grain grown in the different cities over the next seven years. The grains from the surrounding fields were stored in each city. He stored up huge quantities of grain “like the sands of the sea.” It was so much that it was impossible to keep an accurate record.
Gen. 41:50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.
Gen. 41:51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.
Gen. 41:52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.
During the seven years of plenty, Asenath gave birth to two sons. Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh (derived from Hebrew for “forget”) because God had made him forget all his trouble and his home. The second son was named Ephraim (sounds like Hebrew for “twice fruitful”) because God had made him fruitful in the land of his suffering.
Thought - It’s interesting to note that the Jewish people actually have the blood of several nationalities in them as you look at some of the marriages that were made by Jacob and his descendants.
Gen. 41:53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.
Gen. 41:54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.
Gen. 41:55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.
Gen. 41:56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: And Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.
Gen. 41:57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.
Then came the seven years of famine. There was famine in all the other lands surrounding Egypt as well—but only Egypt had food. When the Egyptian people began to feel the effects of the famine, they cried to Pharaoh and he sent them to Joseph. So Joseph opened the storehouses and began selling grain to them. People from other countries began coming to Egypt to buy grain as well.
Good application from Henry: “ Certain ominous signs today, for example, seem to suggest that Americans will soon have to give up many of the creature comforts which they have come to regard as rights and necessities; and such deprivations, if they come, will undoubtedly be considered impossibly traumatic by most of us. The story of Joseph in Egypt, if nothing else, should warn us that the blessings of prosperity come from the LORD and can as easily be removed by the LORD, as He wills.”