Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream
41 1 Two years passed and Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile River. 2 Seven cows came up out of the Nile, all shimmering with health, and grazed on the marsh grass. 3 Then seven other cows, all skin and bones, came up out of the river after them and stood by them on the bank of the Nile. 4 The skinny cows ate the seven healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5 He went back to sleep and dreamed a second time: Seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, grew out of a single stalk. 6 Then seven more ears grew up, but these were thin and dried out by the east wind. 7 The thin ears swallowed up the full, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up - another dream. 8 When morning came, he was upset. He sent for all the magicians and sages of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but they couldn't interpret them to him.
9 The head cupbearer then spoke up and said to Pharaoh, "I just now remembered something - I'm sorry, I should have told you this long ago. 10 Once when Pharaoh got angry with his servants, he locked me and the head baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 We both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning. 12 It so happened that there was a young Hebrew slave there with us; he belonged to the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams and he interpreted them for us, each dream separately. 13 Things turned out just as he interpreted. I was returned to my position and the head baker was impaled." 14 Pharaoh at once sent for Joseph. They brought him on the run from the jail cell. He cut his hair, put on clean clothes, and came to Pharaoh. 15 "I dreamed a dream," Pharaoh told Joseph. "Nobody can interpret it. But I've heard that just by hearing a dream you can interpret it." 16 Joseph answered, "Not I, but God. God will set Pharaoh's mind at ease."
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18 Seven cows, shimmering with health, came up out of the river and grazed on the marsh grass. 19 On their heels seven more cows, all skin and bones, came up. I've never seen uglier cows anywhere in Egypt. 20 Then the seven skinny, ugly cows ate up the first seven healthy cows. 21 But you couldn't tell by looking - after eating them up they were just as skinny and ugly as before. Then I woke up. 22 "In my second dream I saw seven ears of grain, full-bodied and lush, growing out of a single stalk, 23 and right behind them, seven other ears, shriveled, thin, and dried out by the east wind. 24 And the thin ears swallowed up the full ears. I've told all this to the magicians but they can't figure it out." 25 Joseph said to Pharaoh, "Pharaoh's two dreams both mean the same thing. God is telling Pharaoh what he is going to do. 26 The seven healthy cows are seven years and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years - they're the same dream. 27 The seven sick and ugly cows that followed them up are seven years and the seven scrawny ears of grain dried out by the east wind are the same - seven years of famine. 28 "The meaning is what I said earlier: God is letting Pharaoh in on what he is going to do. 29 Seven years of plenty are on their way throughout Egypt. 30 But on their heels will come seven years of famine, leaving no trace of the Egyptian plenty. As the country is emptied by famine, 31 there won't be even a scrap left of the previous plenty - the famine will be total. 32 The fact that Pharaoh dreamed the same dream twice emphasizes God's determination to do this and do it soon.
33 "So: Pharaoh needs to look for a wise and experienced man and put him in charge of the country. 34 Then Pharaoh needs to appoint managers throughout the country of Egypt to organize it during the years of plenty. 35 Their job will be to collect all the food produced in the good years ahead and stockpile the grain under Pharaoh's authority, storing it in the towns for food. 36 This grain will be held back to be used later during the seven years of famine that are coming on Egypt. This way the country won't be devastated by the famine."
Joseph Made Ruler over Egypt
37 This seemed like a good idea to Pharaoh and his officials. 38 Then Pharaoh said to his officials, "Isn't this the man we need? Are we going to find anyone else who has God's spirit in him like this?" 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, "You're the man for us. God has given you the inside story - no one is as qualified as you in experience and wisdom. 40 From now on, you're in charge of my affairs; all my people will report to you. Only as king will I be over you." 41 So Pharaoh commissioned Joseph: "I'm putting you in charge of the entire country of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh removed his signet ring from his finger and slipped it on Joseph's hand. He outfitted him in robes of the best linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He put the second-in-command chariot at his disposal, and as he rode people shouted "Bravo!" Joseph was in charge of the entire country of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh told Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, but no one in Egypt will make a single move without your stamp of approval." 45 Then Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah (God Speaks and He Lives). He also gave him an Egyptian wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On (Heliopolis). And Joseph took up his duties over the land of Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he went to work for Pharaoh the king of Egypt. As soon as Joseph left Pharaoh's presence, he began his work in Egypt. 47 During the next seven years of plenty the land produced bumper crops. 48 Joseph gathered up the food of the seven good years in Egypt and stored the food in cities. In each city he stockpiled surplus from the surrounding fields. 49 Joseph collected so much grain - it was like the sand of the ocean! - that he finally quit keeping track. 50 Joseph had two sons born to him before the years of famine came. Asenath, daughter of Potiphera the priest of On, was their mother. 51 Joseph named the firstborn Manasseh (Forget), saying, "God made me forget all my hardships and my parental home." 52 He named his second son Ephraim (Double Prosperity), saying, "God has prospered me in the land of my sorrow." 53 Then Egypt's seven good years came to an end 54 and the seven years of famine arrived, just as Joseph had said. All countries experienced famine; Egypt was the only country that had bread. 55 When the famine spread throughout Egypt, the people called out in distress to Pharaoh, calling for bread. He told the Egyptians, "Go to Joseph. Do what he tells you." 56 As the famine got worse all over the country, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold emergency supplies to the Egyptians. The famine was very bad. 57 Soon the whole world was coming to buy supplies from Joseph. The famine was bad all over.
Joseph's Brethren Come to Egypt for Grain
42 1 When Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt, he said to his sons, "Why do you sit around here and look at one another? 2 I've heard that there is food in Egypt. Go down there and buy some so that we can survive and not starve to death." 3 Ten of Joseph's brothers went down to Egypt to get food. 4 Jacob didn't send Joseph's brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something bad might happen to him. 5 So Israel's sons joined everyone else that was going to Egypt to buy food, for Canaan, too, was hit hard by the famine. 6 Joseph was running the country; he was the one who gave out rations to all the people. When Joseph's brothers arrived, they treated him with honor, bowing to him.
7 Joseph recognized them immediately, but treated them as strangers and spoke roughly to them. He said, "Where do you come from?" "From Canaan," they said. "We've come to buy food." 8 Joseph knew who they were, but they didn't know who he was. 9 Joseph, remembering the dreams he had dreamed of them, said, "You're spies. You've come to look for our weak spots." 10 "No, master," they said. "We've only come to buy food. 11 We're all the sons of the same man; we're honest men; we'd never think of spying." 12 He said, "No. You're spies. You've come to look for our weak spots." 13 They said, "There were twelve of us brothers - sons of the same father in the country of Canaan. The youngest is with our father, and one is no more." 14 But Joseph said, "It's just as I said, you're spies. 15 This is how I'll test you. As Pharaoh lives, you're not going to leave this place until your younger brother comes here. 16 Send one of you to get your brother while the rest of you stay here in jail. We'll see if you're telling the truth or not. As Pharaoh lives, I say you're spies." 17 Then he threw them into jail for three days. 18 On the third day, Joseph spoke to them. "Do this and you'll live. I'm a God-fearing man. 19 If you're as honest as you say you are, one of your brothers will stay here in jail while the rest of you take the food back to your hungry families. 20 But you have to bring your youngest brother back to me, confirming the truth of your speech - and not one of you will die." They agreed.
21 Then they started talking among themselves. "Now we're paying for what we did to our brother - we saw how terrified he was when he was begging us for mercy. We wouldn't listen to him and now we're the ones in trouble." 22 Reuben broke in. "Didn't I tell you, 'Don't hurt the boy'? But no, you wouldn't listen. And now we're paying for his murder." 23 Joseph had been using an interpreter, so they didn't know that Joseph was understanding every word. 24 Joseph turned away from them and cried. When he was able to speak again, he took Simeon and had him tied up, making a prisoner of him while they all watched. 25 Then Joseph ordered that their sacks be filled with grain, that their money be put back in each sack, and that they be given rations for the road. That was all done for them. 26 They loaded their food supplies on their donkeys and set off. 27 When they stopped for the night, one of them opened his sack to get food for his donkey; there at the mouth of his bag was his money 28 He called out to his brothers, "My money has been returned; it's right here in my bag!" They were puzzled - and frightened. "What's God doing to us?"
29 When they got back to their father Jacob, back in the land of Canaan, they told him everything that had happened, saying, 30 "The man who runs the country spoke to us roughly and accused us of being spies. 31 We told him, 'We are honest men and in no way spies. 32 There were twelve of us brothers, sons of one father; one is gone and the youngest is with our father in Canaan.' 33 "But the master of the country said, 'Leave one of your brothers with me, take food for your starving families, and go. 34 Bring your youngest brother back to me, proving that you're honest men and not spies. And then I'll give your brother back to you and you'll be free to come and go in this country.'" 35 As they were emptying their food sacks, each man came on his purse of money. On seeing their money, they and their father were upset. 36 Their father said to them, "You're taking everything I've got! Joseph's gone, Simeon's gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. If you have your way, I'll be left with nothing." 37 Reuben spoke up: "I'll put my two sons in your hands as hostages. If I don't bring Benjamin back, you can kill them. Trust me with Benjamin; I'll bring him back." 38 But Jacob refused. "My son will not go down with you. His brother is dead and he is all I have left. If something bad happens to him on the road, you'll put my gray, sorrowing head in the grave."