The Dreams of a King

The Ishmaelites were the people who purchased Joseph from his brothers. They were given this name because they were descended from Ishmael, who, as you may recall, was Hagar’s son and Sarah’s servant. Joseph was sold to these Ishmaelites. So they took Joseph southward through the plain that is beside the huge sea on the western side of Canaan, and after a considerable amount of time, they brought Joseph to Egypt. How confusing it must have looked to the little boy who had grown up in a tent to suddenly come face-to-face with the gigantic pyramids, the powerful river Nile, the temples, and the crowds of people who populated the towns!

Joseph was sold as a slave by his Ishmaelite captors to a man called Potiphar, who served as an officer in the army of Pharaoh, the monarch of Egypt. Joseph was a handsome young man who had a positive attitude, was willing to assist others, and was successful in all he attempted. As a result, his employer, Potiphar, developed a friendly relationship with him, and after some time, he put Joseph in charge of his household and everything in it. Joseph remained in Potiphar’s household for a number of years; although he was a slave in name, in actuality he was the manager of all his business and the ruler over his fellow slaves.

But Potiphar’s wife, who at first was quite nice to Joseph, later became his adversary since Joseph would not do anything improper to satisfy her. This was because Joseph would not abandon his ideals in order to appease her. She lied to her husband and said that Joseph had engaged in some nefarious behavior. Joseph was thrown in jail with other criminals who had been sentenced to that place for violating the rules of the nation because her husband believed her. How difficult it must have been for Joseph to be accused of committing a crime despite the fact that he had done nothing wrong, and then to be thrown into a dark and gloomy jail full of evil people!

Joseph, however, maintained confidence in God and believed that one day everything would work out for the best. Even while imprisoned, he remained optimistic, kind, and helpful, just as he had been in the past. The warden of the jail saw that Joseph was different from the other inmates, and as a result, he treated Joseph with consideration. In a very short period of time, Joseph was put in charge of all of his fellow inmates, and he cared for them in the same manner that he had cared for everything in Potiphar’s home. Because the keeper of the jail had trust in Joseph and knew that he would carry out the responsibilities of his position with integrity and discretion, he seldom bothered to check inside the prison. Joseph obeyed God and served him, and as a result, God showered his blessings upon Joseph in every way.

During the time that Joseph was being held in the jail, the pharaoh of Egypt put two other men there because he was dissatisfied with the way they had behaved. One was the main butler of the king, and he served the monarch wine; the other was the chief baker, and he served the king bread. Joseph was in charge of taking care of these two guys, and since they were high-ranking individuals, Joseph did everything for them.

Joseph went into the room where the butler and the baker were being imprisoned one morning to check on them, and he found both of them looking incredibly unhappy. Joseph addressed them as follows:

“Why do you seem so unhappy today?” Joseph had a positive attitude and a good spirit; he wanted others to have the same, even if they were jailed with him.

And one of them added, “Last night, all of us dreamt really unusual dreams, and there is no one who can tell us what the meaning of our dreams ought to be.”

Because at that time, before God delivered the Bible to humanity, he often spoke with men through their dreams, and there were talented people who were usually able to interpret what the dreams meant.

“Tell me what your dreams are,” Joseph prompted. “I want to hear them.” Perhaps, with God’s assistance, I will be able to comprehend what they are saying.

The main butler then related his dream to the others. He described his vision as follows: “In my dream, I saw a grapevine with three branches; and as I looked, the branches put forth buds; and as I looked, the buds became blooms; and as I gazed, the blossoms blossomed into clusters of juicy grapes.” “And I gathered the grapes, and I squeezed their juice into King Pharaoh’s cup, and it turned into wine; and I gave it to King Pharaoh to drink, exactly as I used to do when I sat by his table.”

Joseph responded, “This is the interpretation of your dream.” The three branches represent the three days of the week. In three days, King Pharaoh will release you from jail and put you back in your position. Then he will have you stand at his table and deliver his wine, just as you have done in the past. Please keep me in mind when you are released from jail and look into the many options available to you in order to secure my release as well. Because I was kidnapped from the country of Canaan and sold into slavery, despite the fact that I am not responsible for any wrongdoing that led to my confinement in this jail, “Please convey my message to the king so that I may be released from this prison.”

When the chief butler found out that his dream had such a positive interpretation, he was obviously overjoyed. And the head baker, in the hopes of having a response just as wonderful, spoke up:

“In my dream,” the baker said, “there were three baskets of white bread on my head, one above the other.” “On the uppermost basket, there were all different types of roasted meat and food for Pharaoh; then the birds arrived and ate the food from the baskets on my head.”

Then Joseph addressed the baker as follows:
“I am sorry to have to tell you this, but this is what your dream was trying to tell you. The three baskets represent three daysbut this is what your dream was trying to tell you. The three baskets represent three days. Within the next three days, by the direction of the monarch, you will be dragged up and hung from a tree, and the birds will eat your flesh from your bones while you dangle in the air.

And it happened just as Joseph had said it would happen. After three days had passed, King Pharaoh ordered all of his officers to report to the jail. They arrived and removed the chief baker as well as the head butler from their positions. The baker was given a painful death by being hanged upside down by his neck, and his corpse was then abandoned for the birds to tear apart. They restored the head butler to his previous position, where he waited on the king at the table and served his wine to him to drink.

You would think that the butler would remember Joseph because Joseph had shown him such wisdom and had offered him the prospect of freedom. However, in the midst of his joy, he neglected to give any thought to Joseph. And while Joseph was still imprisoned, a complete year passed, bringing the total number of years he had spent there up to thirty.

However, King Pharaoh himself had a dream one night, and it was really a combination of two nightmares. And when daylight came, he summoned all of Egypt’s wise men and shared his visions with them; however, not a single one of them was able to interpret what his dreams meant for him. And the king was worried, because he got the impression that the dreams represented something significant that it was essential for him to understand.

Then all of a sudden, the chief butler who was standing at the king’s table recalled his own dream from the jail two years earlier, as well as the young man who had explained its significance with such pinpoint accuracy. And then he stated:

“I do recall the mistakes I’ve made on this day. When King Pharaoh became enraged with his employees, including me and the head baker, he locked us up in the prison. This happened around two years ago. One night, while we were being held in jail, each of us had a dream. The following day, a young man in the prison who was a Hebrew from the country of Canaan explained to us what our dreams meant. And, as the young Hebrew had predicted, our dreams came true during the next three days. I believe that if this young man is still in prison, he may be able to explain to the king what the significance of his dreams is.

It has been brought to your attention that the butler referred to Joseph as “a Hebrew.” Joseph was a member of the Israelite nation, which was also known as the Hebrews. Israelites and Hebrews are both names for the same people. The people of Israel were given the name Hebrew, which means “One who passed over,” since Abraham, their patriarch, came from a place on the other side of the huge river Euphrates and had to cross over the river on his route to Canaan.

Then King Pharaoh sent an urgent message to the jail for Joseph, and Joseph was brought out of the prison, and he was clothed in new garments, and he was escorted into the palace to present himself before King Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said:

“I have dreamed a dream, and no one can tell me what it means.” I have no idea what it signifies. Also, I’ve been informed that you have the ability to interpret these dreams and figure out what they’re trying to communicate to me.

And Joseph replied to Pharaoh, saying,

“The ability does not lie with me, but God will give Pharaoh a satisfying answer.” What exactly has the king been dreaming about?

Pharaoh said, “In my first dream, I was standing by the river, and I saw seven fat and handsome cows come up from the river to eat in the grass.” And while they were eating, seven additional cows followed them up from the river. These cows were very skinny, poor, and lean; I had never seen such miserable animals before. The result of this was that the seven skinny cows ended up eating the seven fat cows, after which they became just as skinny and sad as they had been before. Then I came to myself.

“And I fell asleep once again and dreamt once more,” he said. In my second dream, I saw seven heads of grain growing on a single stalk. Each head was big, robust, and full of quality grain. And then, behind them, seven more heads emerged, all of which were malnourished, impoverished, and withered. And the seven starving heads ate the seven healthy heads, and after that they were still as impoverished and withered as they had been before.

“And I told these two dreams to all the wise men, and there is no one who is able to interpret them,” he said. “And I told them both to you.” Could you please explain what these dreams signify to me?

Then Joseph addressed the king as follows:

“The interpretation of the two dreams is the same. Pharaoh has been getting revelations from God about his future activities in this country. The seven healthy cows represent seven years, and the seven healthy heads of grain represent the same number of years. If there are seven healthy cows and seven healthy heads of grain, then there will be seven prosperous years. If there are seven thin cows and seven thin heads of grain, then there will be seven lean years. After those prosperous years, there will be seven years in which the land of Egypt will not produce any crops at all. During the prosperous period, the harvest from the fields will be greater than it has ever been. And after that, for the next seven years, there will be such a shortage that the people will forget the years when there was enough to eat because they won’t have anything to eat.

“Now, let King Pharaoh search for a capable and intelligent man, and let him appoint this man to administer over the kingdom.” And during the seven years when there was enough, let some of the harvests be stored aside for the years when there was not enough. If this is done, then when the years of need come, there will be enough food for all of the people, and nobody will have to suffer.

And the king of Egypt replied to Joseph, “Since God has revealed all of this to you, there is no other man as wise as you.” You will be given the authority to carry out this task and to govern over the country of Egypt. You will have complete authority over the people, but I will sit on the throne of Egypt, placing me above you.

And Pharaoh removed the ring that contained his seal from his own hand and placed it on Joseph’s hand so that Joseph could sign for the king and seal in the place of the king. This allowed Joseph to perform both of Pharaoh’s responsibilities. And he clothed Joseph in garments made of fine linen, and he placed a gold chain around Joseph’s neck. And he had Joseph ride in a chariot that was one level behind him in the order of precedence. As a result, Joseph was raised to the position of ruler over all of Egypt.


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