Genesis 40

Genesis 40

Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams

40 Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker committed an offense against their lord the king of Egypt. And Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be with them, and he attended them. They continued for some time in custody.

And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph and said to him, “In my dream there was a vine before me, and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms shot forth, and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.” Then Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office, and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand as formerly, when you were his cupbearer. Only remember me, when it is well with you, and please do me the kindness to mention me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this house. For I was indeed stolen out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also I have done nothing that they should put me into the pit.”

When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.” And Joseph answered and said, “This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days. In three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a tree. And the birds will eat the flesh from you.”

On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. But he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.


Genesis 40 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

We now learn that Potiphar did not really believe the accusations brought against Joseph. In Genesis 39, we read that Potiphar was “an officer of Pharaoh and the captain of the guard.”  Here in Genesis 40, we read that the captain of the guard is the one who placed Joseph over the baker and the cupbearer.

The captain of the guard assigned Joseph to them, and he became their personal attendant. And they were in custody for some time.

Genesis 40:4 HCSB

We also know that Joseph found favor with the warden. He was given authority freely because of his trustworthy character and rock-solid integrity. People who came across Joseph loved him and trusted him. This is a noteworthy point to consider and apply to our own lives.

Despite being well-liked, we find that Joseph is not a people pleaser. In fact, right here in this chapter he shows us how his allegiance to God does not sway his feelings. He is willing to help, but he will tell others God’s truth. He receives divine knowledge from God regarding the dreams of both the baker and the cupbearer. He is just as willing to give the bad news to the baker as he is to give the good news to the cupbearer.

The other point to consider here is Joseph’s persistent attitude. He does not slip into a fatalistic mindset. He uses the opportunity at hand to help these two men but also asks them to remember him. He wants out of prison, and this could be the moment that God uses to deliver him. It seems strange that God doesn’t use this opportunity to deliver him. How many of us would give up after this? How many of us would question God’s love and his character and let our minds slip into fatalistic thinking?

Joseph’s time was not now, but this doesn’t stop him from living for God in everything he does. You see, Joseph’s environment and emotional state did not control his faith. His foundation wasn’t based on getting what he wanted out of life. He continued to faithfully serve where he was placed.

Beloved citizen. Truth-teller. Persistent optimist. Consistent character. Do these qualities describe you?

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