Genesis 41

Pharaoh's dreams

1 Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream. In his dream, he was standing by the River Nile. 2 Seven cows walked up out of the river. They were fat and good to look at. They ate the grass at the side of the river. 3 After those seven fat cows, Pharaoh saw seven other cows that also came up out of the river. Those cows were thin and not good to look at. They stood next to the other cows at the side of the river. 4 The thin cows ate the seven fat cows! Then Pharaoh woke up.

5 Pharaoh went to sleep again and he had another dream. He saw seven groups of grain that were growing on one branch. The grains were fat and good to look at. 6 Then he saw seven other groups of grain that grew after the first seven groups. These grains were thin, because the hot east wind had burned them. 7 Then the groups of thin grains ate the seven groups of grains that were good and fat. Then Pharaoh woke up. He realized that it was a dream.

8 In the morning, Pharaoh had trouble in his mind. So, he told all the magicians and the wise men in Egypt to come to him. Pharaoh told them about his dreams. But no one could tell Pharaoh what his dreams meant.

9 Then the king's cupbearer said to Pharaoh, ‘Now I remember that I have done a wrong thing! 10 Two years ago, you were angry with me and with your special baker. You put us in prison, in the house of the guards' captain. 11 One night we both had a dream. Each of our dreams had its own meaning. 12 A young Hebrew man was there with us. He was a servant of the guards' captain. We told the Hebrew man about our dreams. Then he told each of us the meaning of our dream. 13 And everything happened as he had told us! You gave me my job as cupbearer again. But you hanged the baker to kill him.’

41:13The cupbearer had authority in the king's house. He would make sure that the king's wine was safe for the king to drink.

14 So Pharaoh called Joseph to come to him. They quickly brought Joseph from the prison. Joseph washed himself and he cut his beard from his face. He put on clean clothes. Then he went and he stood in front of Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I had a dream, and no one can tell me what it means. But people have told me about you. They say that you can tell the meaning of dreams.’ 16 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, ‘I cannot do this. But God will give you an answer that will make you happy.’

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘In my dream, I stood at the side of the River Nile. 18 I saw seven cows that came up out of the river. They were fat, and good to look at. They were eating the grass at the side of the river. 19 After them, seven more cows came up out of the river. They were thin and they were not good to look at. I have never seen cows as bad as these in Egypt before. 20 The thin cows ate the seven fat cows that came out of the river first. 21 When they had eaten them, you would not have known it! They still seemed to be as thin as they were before they ate the fat cows. Then I woke up. 22 In another dream, I also saw seven groups of grain that grew on one branch. The grains were fat and good. 23 After those, seven other groups of grain grew. Those grains were thin because the hot east wind had burned them. 24 The thin grains ate the seven groups of fat grains. I told those dreams to my wise men and magicians. But none of them could tell me the meaning of my dreams.’

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘Your dreams both have the same meaning. God has shown you what he is going to do. 26 The seven fat cows tell us about seven years. And the seven groups of fat grains also mean seven years. Both dreams have the same meaning. 27 The seven thin cows that came out of the river mean seven years. And the seven groups of thin grains mean seven years. Both of these tell us about seven years of famine.

28 This is what your dreams mean. As I said, God has shown Pharaoh what he is going to do. 29 There will be plenty of food for seven years all over the land of Egypt. 30 But then seven years of famine will follow. People will forget about the seven years when they had plenty of food. The famine will destroy the land of Egypt. 31 No one will remember the seven good years, because the famine will be so bad. 32 God gave you two dreams with the same meaning because these things will certainly happen. God will cause them to happen very soon. 33 Now Pharaoh should look for a clever man. He should look for a man who knows what is right and wrong. Tell him to rule over the land of Egypt.

34-35 This is what you should do: Choose some officers. Give them authority to store food during the good years when there is plenty. They must take a fifth part of all the food that grows everywhere in Egypt. They must store the extra food during the good years that will come soon. Give these officers authority to store and to take care of the food in the cities. 36 Then you will be ready for the seven years of famine that will happen everywhere in Egypt. The people in Egypt will have enough food, and the famine will not destroy the land.’

37 Pharaoh and his officers thought that Joseph's idea was good. 38 Pharaoh said to his officers, ‘This man has the Spirit of God in him. We will never find anyone else like him.’ 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘God himself has helped you to know all these things. So, there is no one who is as wise and clever as you are. 40 I will give you authority in my palace. All my people will do whatever you tell them to do. Only I will be greater than you, because I am the king.’

41 Pharaoh also said to Joseph, ‘I give you authority in the whole land of Egypt.’ 42 Then Pharaoh took his king's ring from his finger and he put it on Joseph's finger. He dressed Joseph in beautiful clothes made of linen. He put a gold chain round Joseph's neck. 43 Pharaoh gave Joseph a chariot to ride in. It showed that Joseph was Pharaoh's most important officer. Only Pharaoh had more authority. As Joseph travelled, his servants shouted to the people, ‘Bend your knees to respect Joseph!’

In this way Pharaoh gave Joseph authority over everything in the land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I rule Egypt as Pharaoh. But nobody who lives anywhere in Egypt will do anything, unless you tell them to.’ 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He also gave Asenath to Joseph to be his wife. She was the daughter of Potiphera, who was a priest in Heliopolis. Everyone knew that Joseph had authority in all the land of Egypt.

41:45Heliopolis was a city where people worshipped the sun-god. The city was also called On.

46 Joseph was 30 years old when he began to serve Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Joseph then left Pharaoh's palace and he travelled all over Egypt. 47 During the seven good years, lots of food grew in the land. 48 Joseph got all the extra food that grew in the seven good years. He stored it in Egypt's cities, near the fields where it had grown. 49 In this way, Joseph stored a lot of food. The food grains were as many as the sand by the sea! Joseph stopped counting how much food he had stored because there was too much food to measure.

50 Before the years of famine arrived, Joseph became the father of two sons. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, a priest in Heliopolis, was their mother. 51 Joseph called his firstborn son Manasseh. Joseph said, ‘God has made me forget all the trouble that my family has given to me.’ 52 Joseph called his second son Ephraim. Joseph said, ‘God has given children to me in the land where I have received pain.’

53 The seven good years with plenty of food in Egypt, came to an end. 54 The seven years of famine began, in the same way that Joseph had said would happen. There was a famine in all the other countries too. But in Egypt, the people still had food to eat. 55 When the Egyptian people became hungry, they cried out to Pharaoh for food. When they did that, Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, ‘Go to Joseph. Do whatever he tells you to do.’

56 The famine became very bad everywhere. Joseph opened all the places where he had stored the food. He sold grain to the Egyptians because there was a bad famine in all of Egypt. 57 People from all the other countries came to Egypt to buy food from Joseph. They came because the famine was very bad all over the world.