Genesis 40



1 “And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and

his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.”  And it came to pass (literally,

and it was) after these things (literally, words, i.e. after the transactions just recorded),

that the butler - מָשְׁקֶה, the hiph. part. of שָׁקָה, to drink, signifies one who causes to

drink, hence cupbearer (compare v. 11) - of the king of Egypt and his baker - the

אֹפֶה (part. of אָפָה, to cook or bake) was the officer who prepared the king's food.

The monuments show that the Egyptians had carried the arts of the confectioner

and cook to a high degree of perfection (see Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books

of Moses,' p. 27; Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:33-39, ed. 1878) - had offended

(or sinned against) their lord (literally, against, the preposition being repeated)

the king of Egypt - whom they had attempted to poison (the Targum of Jonathan),

though this of course is only a conjecture in the absence of specific information.


2 “And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the

butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.”  And Pharaoh was wroth - literally,

broke forth (into anger) - against two of his officers (see 37:36) against the chief

sar: the word occurs in one of the oldest historical documents of ancient Egypt

('Inscription of Una,' line 4, sixth dynasty), meaning chief or eunuch (vide ' Records

of the Past,' 2:3) - of the butlers, - an office once filled by Nehemiah in the Court of

Persia (Nehemiah 1:11), and Rabshakeh (Aramaic for "chief of the cupbearers") in

the Court of Assyria (II Kings 18:17) - and against the chief of the bakers. Oriental

monarchs generally had a multitude of butlers and bakers, or cupbearers and Court

purveyors, the chiefs in both departments being invested with high honor, and

regarded with much trust (Herod., 3:34; Xenoph., 'Cyrop.,' 1:3, 8).


3 “And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into

the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.”  And he put them in ward

(or in custody) in the house of the captain of the guard, - i.e. Potiphar (see

ch. 37:36) - into the prison, - literally, house of enclosure (see ch. 39:20) –

the place where Joseph was bound. The word אָסור from אָסַר - to make fast

by binding, seems to corroborate the Psalmist's assertion (Psalm 105:18) that

Joseph had been laid in iron and his feet hurt with fetters; but this could only

have been temporarily (see vs. 4, 6).


4 “And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he

served them: and they continued a season in ward.”  And the captain of

the guard charged Joseph with them (literally, set Joseph with them, i.e.

as a companion or servant; to wait upon them, since they were high officers

of State, not to keep watch over them as criminals), and he served them

(i.e. acted as their attendant): and they continued a season in ward (literally,

and they were days, i.e. an indefinite period, in prison).


5 “And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one

night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler

and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.”

And they dreamed a dream both of them (on dreams see ch. 20:3), each

man his dream in one night (this was the first remarkable circumstance

connected with these dreams - they both happened the same night), each

man according to the interpretation of his dream (i.e. each dream

corresponded exactly, as the event proved, to the interpretation put on

it by Joseph, which was a second remarkable circumstance, inasmuch as it

showed the dreams to be no vain hallucinations of the mind, but

Divinely-sent foreshadowings of the future fortunes of the dreamers),

the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.


6 “And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them,

and, behold, they were sad. 7  And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were

with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so

sadly to day?”  And Joseph came in unto them in the morning (a proof

that Joseph at this time enjoyed comparative freedom from corporeal

restraint in the prison), and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.

The word זֹעֲפִים from זָעַפ, to be angry, originally signifying irate, wrathful,

τεταραγμένοιtetaragmenoithey were sad (Septuagint), is obviously

intended rather to convey the idea of dejection, tristes (Vulgate). And he

asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's

house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly today? - literally, knowing

what (־ מַדּוּעַ מָה יָדוּעַ - τί μαθώνti mathon - ) are your faces evil, or

bad (πρόσωπα σκυθρωπὰ - prosopa skuthropa -  Septuagint; tristier solito,

Vulgate), today?


8 “And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no

interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations

belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.”  And they said unto him, We have

dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it - literally, a dream have we

dreamt, and interpreting it there is none. This must be noted as a third peculiarity

connected with these dreams, that both of their recipients were similarly affected

by them, though there was much in the butler s dream to inspire hope rather than

dejection. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God?

literally, Are not interpretations to Elohim? i.e. the Supreme Being (compare

ch.  41:16; Daniel 2:11, 28, 47). The Egyptians believed ὅτι ἀνθρώπων μὲν

οὐδενὶ προσκέεταιτέχνη μαντικὴ τῶν δὲ θεῶν μετεξετέροισε (Herod., 2:83).

Tell me them, I pray you. Joseph's request implies that the consciousness of

his Divine calling to be a prophet had begun to dawn upon him, and that he

was now speaking from an inward conviction, doubtless produced within his

mind by Elohim, that he could unfold the true significance of the dreams.




The Interpreter of God’s Message (v. 8)


We cannot but notice the importance often assigned in the Bible to dreams,

as channels of revelation from God. The dreams of Jacob and of Pharaoh,

and passages such as Deuteronomy 13:1 and Joel 2:28, show this.

It may be that in the absence of the written word, which in its completeness

is our heritage, God’s message was thus given to them in portions.

Applying this thought to the circumstances of the text, we see men who

had received a message from God which they believed was of importance;

but they could not understand it, and they are sad because there is no




questions does life present! What and where are we? Whither going? What

lies beyond the present? I see that all things decay; yet on all sides life from

death. Is there such revival for me? Can the active, thinking spirit be as

though it had never been — passed from existence ere the frail body began

to decay? And if there be a life beyond the present, what is its nature? and

what the preparation for it? Vainly does human wisdom try to answer these

questions. He who made all things alone can explain His works (Psalm

94:9-12), and the Bible is His answer to our questions, wherein He tells us

what we are, for what created, and how to fulfill the object of our being

(Psalm 119:105).


  • BUT WE NEED AN INTERPRETER. It may be asked, Why? The

Bible is open. Its words are such as any one can understand. This is true, as

far as regards facts, and precepts, and doctrines. There is a knowledge of

the word which the natural man can attain to; but the Holy Spirit alone can

so open it as to make it “the power of God.” It is one thing to know the

doctrines of sin and of salvation, and quite another to know ourselves as

sinners, and Christ as the Savior. The one puffs up with pride of

knowledge, the other leads to the one Foundation. There is no more

dangerous snare than of ignoring this work of the Holy Spirit. Too often

men do not believe their need of it, and do not believe in his help. And thus

the Bible is found dull, and its teaching departed from in daily life.


  • HOW TO GET THE INTERPRETER’S HELP. “Tell me.” Think of

our Lord watching His disciples in the boat. So He watches over thee, ready

to help. Hast thou found it so? Has the light of God’s love entered thy

heart? It is the special work of the Holy Spirit to guide into all truth

(John 16:13); not in solving mysteries and hard questions, but in

revealing Christ to the heart. Have you sought this; sought with

expectation the full gift; sought to know Christ (Philippians 3:10), and

the transforming power of belief in His love? Will you seek? There lies the

difficultythe lack of earnestness. Men seem afraid of being earnest. But

it is the earnest (Matthew 11:12, βιασταὶ - biastaiviolent; forceful ones)

who enter the kingdom of heaven.


9 “And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream,

behold, a vine was before me;”   - literally, in my dream (I was), and behold a vine

(gephen, from the unused root gaphan, to be bent, a twig, hence a plant which has

twigs, especially a vine; compare Judges 9:13; Isaiah 7:43;  24:7) before me. The

introduction of the vine into the narrative, which has been pronounced (Bohlen)

an important factor in proof of its recent composition, since, according to

Herodotus (2:77), the vine was not cultivated in Egypt, and, according to

Plutarch ('De Is. et Osir.,' 6), it was not till after Psammetichus, i.e. about the

time of Josiah, that the Egyptians began to drink wine, has now by more accurate

study been ascertained to be in exact accordance, not only with Biblical statements

(Numbers 20:5; Psalm 78:47;  105:33), but likewise with the testimony of Herodotus,

who affirms (2:37) that wine (οϊνος ἀμπέλενος) was a privilege of the priestly order,

and with the representations on the monuments of vines and grapes, and of the

entire process of wine-making (see Havernick's 'Introduction,' § 21; Wilkinson's '

Ancient Egyptians,' 1:379, et seqq. 430, 431, ed. 1878; Hengstenberg, 'Egypt,'

p. 13; Rawlinson, 'Hist. Illus.,' p. 49; Thornley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 58).


10  And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and

her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:”

And in the vine were three branches: - sarigim, tendrils of a vine, from sarag, to

intertwine (v. 12; Joel 1:7) - and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms

shot forth; - literally, as it budded (Murphy); or, as though blossoming (Rosenmüller,

Keil, Kalisch); it shot forth its blossom (Keil); or, its blossoms shot forth (Rosenmüller,

Kalisch, Murphy) - and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: - more correctly,

its stems caused to ripen, or matured, clusters, the אֶשְׁכֹּל being the stalk of a cluster,

as distinguished from the עֲגָבִים, or clusters themselves (Gesenius, 'Lex.,' p. 85),

though interpreters generally (Kalisch, Keil, Murphy) regard the first as the

unripe, and the second as the ripe, cluster -


11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed

them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.”  And

Pharaoh's cup - כּזֹס, a receptacle or vessel, either contracted from כֵּגֶס, like אִישׁ

for אֵגֶשׁ (Gesenius), or derived from כּוּא, to conceal, to receive, to keep, connected

with the idea of bringing together, collecting into a thing (Furst) - was in my hand:

and I took the grapes, and pressed them - ἐξέθλιψα (Septuagint), expressi (Vulgate),

a translation adopted by the most competent authorities (Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller,

Keil, Kalisch, et alii), though the sense of diluting with water is advocated by Dathe,

Havernick ('Introd.,' § 21), and others as the most appropriate signification of שָׁחַט,

which occurs only here. That Pharaoh is represented as drinking the expressed juice

of grapes is no proof that the Egyptians were not acquainted with fermentation,

and did not drink fermented liquors. In numerous frescoes the process of

fermentation is distinctly represented, and Herodotus testifies that though the

use of grape wine was comparatively limited, the common people drank a wine

made from barley: οἵνῳ δ ἐκ κριθέων πεποιημένῳ (2:77) - into Pharaoh's cup,

and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand - literally, I placed the cup upon

Pharaoh's palm, כַּפ, used of Jacob's thigh-socket (ch. 32:25), meaning

something hollowed out.


12 “And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three

branches are three days:  13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine

head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup

into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

14  But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness,

I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring

me out of this house: 15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the

Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the

dungeon.”  And Joseph (acting no doubt under a Divine impulse) said unto him,

This is the interpretation of it (compare vs. 18; 41:12, 25; Judges 7:14; Daniel 2:36;

4:19): The three branches (see above, v. 10) are three days: - literally, three days

these (compare ch. 41:26) - Yet within three days (literally, in yet three days, i.e.

within three more days, before the third day is over) shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, -

not μνησθήσεται τῆς ἀρχῆς σουmnaesthaesetai taes archaes souwill lift up your\

head  (Septuagint), record-abitur ministerii tui (Vulgate), a rendering which has the

sanction of Onkelos, Samaritan, Jarchi, Rosenmüller, and others; but shall promote

thee from the depths of thy humiliation (Gesenius, Furst, Keil, Kalisch, &c.), to which

there is an assonance, and upon which there is an intentional play, in the opposite

phrase employed to depict the fortunes of the baker (see v. 19) and restore thee

unto thy place: - epexegetic of the preceding clause, the כֵּן (or pedestal, from כָּגַן,

unused, to stand upright, or stand fast as a base) upon which the butler was to be

set being his former dignity and office, as is next explained - and thou shalt deliver

Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.

After which Joseph adds a request for himself. But think on me when it shall be

well with thee (literally, but, or only, thou shalt remember me with thee, according

as, or when, it goes well with thee), and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me (compare

Joshua 2:12; I Samuel 20:14-15; II Samuel 9:1; I Kings 2:7), and make mention of me

unto Pharaoh, - literally, bring me to remembrance before Pharaoh (compare I Kings

17:18; Jeremiah 4:16; Ezekiel 21:28) - and bring me out of this house: for indeed

I was stolen (literally, for stolen I was stolen, i.e. I was furtively abducted, without

my knowledge or consent, and did not voluntarily abscond in consequence of having

perpetrated any crime) away out (literally, from) of the land of the Hebrews: - i.e.

the land where the Ibrum live (Keil); an expression which Joseph never could have

used, since the Hebrews were strangers and sojourners in the land, and had no settled

possession in it, and therefore a certain index of the lateness of the composition of

this portion of the narrative (Block, 'Introd.,' § 80); but if Abram, nearly two centuries

earlier, was recognized as a Hebrew (ch. 14:13), and if Potiphar's wife could, in

speaking to her Egyptian husband and domestics, describe Joseph as an Hebrew

(ch. 39:14, 17), there does not appear sufficient reason why Joseph should not be

able to characterize his country as the land of the Hebrews. The Hebrews had

through Abraham become known at least to Pharaoh and his Court as belonging

to the land of Canaan (ch. 12:15-20); and it is not a violent supposition that in

Joseph s time "the land of the Hebrews" was a phrase quite intelligible to an

Egyptian, as signifying not perhaps the entire extent of Palestine, but the region

round about Hebron and Mamre (Nachmanides, Clericus, Rosenmüller) - scarcely

as suggesting that the Hebrews had possession of the land prior to the Canaanites

(Murphy). And here also have I done nothing (i.e. committed no crime) that they

should (literally, that they have) put me into the dungeon. The term בּור is here

used to describe Joseph's place of confinement, because pits or cisterns or cesspools,

when empty, were frequently employed in primitive times for the incarceration of

offenders (compare Jeremiah 38:6; Zechariah 9:11).


16 “When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto

Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my

head:  17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats

for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.”

When (literally, and) the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he

(literally, and he, encouraged by the good fortune predicted to his fellow-prisoner)

said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three (literally, and

behold three) white baskets - literally, baskets of white bread; Septuagint, κανᾶ

χονδριτῶνkana chondriton - ; Vulgate, canistra farince; Aquila, κόφινοι γύρεως

kophinoi gureos (Onkolos, Pererius, Gesenius, Furst, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, et alii);

though the rendering "baskets of holes," i.e. wicker baskets, is preferred by some

(Symmachus Datbius, Rosenmüller, and others), and accords with the evidence of

the monuments, which frequently exhibit baskets of wickerwork (see Wilkinson's '

Ancient Egyptians,' 2:34, ed. 1878) - on my head. According to Herodotus (2:35),

Egyptian men commonly carried on their heads, and Egyptian women, like Hagar

(ch. 21:14), on their shoulders. And in the uppermost basket (whose contents alone

are described, since it alone was exposed to the depredations of the birds) there

was of all manner of bake-meats for Pharaoh - literally, all kinds of food for

Pharaoh, the work of a baker. The monuments show that the variety of confectionery

used in Egypt was exceedingly extensive (Hengstenberg, p. 27). And the birds

literally, the bird; a collective, as in ch. 1:21, 30 (compare v. 19) - did eat them

out of the basket upon my head.


18 “And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The

three baskets are three days: Genesis 40 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh

lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall

eat thy flesh from off thee”  And Joseph answered and said (with what reluctance

and pathos may be imagined), This is the interpretation thereof (the exposition was

supplied by God, and, however willing or anxious Joseph might be to soften its

meaning to his auditor, he could not deviate a hair's-breadth from what he knew to

be the mind of God): The three baskets are three days: yet within three days

literally, in three days more (as above - v. 13) - shall Pharaoh lift up thy head

from off thee (i.e. deprive thee of life, the phrase containing a resemblance to

that employed in v. 13, and finding its explanation in the words that follow),

and shall hang thee on a tree - i.e. after decapitation (compare Deuteronomy

21:22-23; Joshua 10:26; II Samuel 4:12), which was probably the mode of

execution at that time practiced in Egypt (Michaelis, Clarke, Keil, Murphy, Alford,

Inglis, Bush), though some regard the clause as a description of the way in which

the baker s life was to be taken from him, viz., either by crucifixion (Onkelos,

Rosenmüller, Ainsworth) or by hanging (Willst, Patrick, T. Lewis), and others

view it as simply pointing to capital punishment, without indicating the instrument

or method (Piscator, Lapide, Mercerus, 'Speaker's Commentary'). And the birds

shall eat thy flesh from off thee. "The terror of approaching death would be

aggravated to the poor man by the prospect of the indignity with which his

body was to be treated" (Lawson).



20 “And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he

made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler

and of the chief baker among his servants.”  And it came to pass (literally, and it

was, as Joseph had predicted) the third day (literally, in, or on, the third day), which

was Pharaoh's birthday, - literally, the day of Pharaoh's being born, the inf. hophal

being construed with an accusative (SEe Gesenius, 'Grammar,' 143) - that he made

a feast - a mishteh, i.e. a drinking or banquet (SEe ch.19:3) - unto all his servants.

"The birthdays of the kings of Egypt were considered holy, and were celebrated

with great joy and rejoicing. All business was suspended, and the people generally

took part in the festivities' (Thoruley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 62; see

Herod., 1:133: Ἡμέρην δὲ ἀπασέΩν μάλιστα ἐκείνην τιμᾶν νομίζουσι τῇ ἕκαστος

ἐγένετο; and compare Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:21). And he lifted up the head - here

the one phrase applies equally, though in different senses, to both. A similar

expression occurs in the annals of Assur-nasir-pal (Sardanapalus), column 2.

line 43: "Their heads on the high places of the mountain I lifted up" ('Records

of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 54) - of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his

servants - literally, in their midst, as a public example.


21“And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the

cup into Pharaoh's hand:  22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had

interpreted to them.”


23 “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgot him.”

Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph (as Joseph had desired, and as

he doubtless had promised), but forgot him - as Joseph might almost have

expected (compare Ecclesiastes 9:15-16).




Joseph in the Round House at Heliopolis (vs. 1-23)




Ø      The prisoners.


o        Their rank. They were high officers of state — the chief of the butlers

and the chief of the bakers, i.e. the principal cupbearer and Court



o        Their offense. They had sinned against their lord the king of Egypt; in

what way it is of no importance to inquire, since “we would have heard

nothing about them had their story not been connected with that of

Joseph” (Lawson), though the Rabbis allege that they had been

detected in an attempt at poisoning their master.


o        Their punishment. “The king’s wrath is as the roaring of a lion,” and

as messengers of death” (Proverbs 19:12; 16:14); and the two

offenders were immediately arrested and thrown into prison, committed

to the keeping of the captain of the round house, where Joseph was



o        Their privilege. Their punishment was tempered with clemency. In

consideration of their official rank, the governor of the tower

appointed Joseph to wait upon them and act as their servant.


Ø      Their attendant. In this new capacity Joseph behaved himself wisely and

with discretion. With regard to his illustrious companions in misfortune,



o        Served them faithfully. “Joseph had been unjustly enslaved, unjustly

imprisoned, unjustly detained in his prison, and yet he declined not the

work enjoined by his master” (Lawson). Joseph appears to have always

acted on the principle commended by the royal preacher “Whatsoever

thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10), and

on that recommended by Christ “For whosoever exalteth himself

shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

(Luke 14:11). “Joseph was a better man than the men whom he served.

He was sprung from noble ancestors, and knew that he would one day

be exalted above them; but at this time he cheerfully performed to

them every service in his power” (Lawson).


o        Sympathized with them sincerely. Though bearing his own

misfortunes with unmurmuring resignation and manly fortitude,

because sustained by God’s grace and the possession of truly religious

principles, the amiability of Joseph’s nature led him to commiserate

his fellow-prisoners who had no such inward supports and consolations

as were enjoyed by him. In particular on one occasion mentioned in

the text he was so struck with their dejected countenances that he

feelingly inquired the cause of their sadness.


o        Directed them wisely. Learning that they were troubled on account of

dreams which they had dreamed overnight, and of which they could

not find the explanation, he piously exhorted them to look to God for

the desired interpretations.




Ø      The dreams:


o        Agreed in the time when they occurred, happening on the same night;

in the impressions they produced, filling the hearts of both dreamers

with forebodings; in the person by whom they were explained, Joseph

giving equally the key to both; and in the interval required for their

fulfillment, only three days being allowed for the accomplishment of



o        Differed in the imagery of which they were composed — that of the

butler consisting of a tableaux in which himself and his royal master

appeared beneath the shadow of a blooming vine, Pharaoh sitting on

his throne, and himself pressing fine ripe clusters into Pharaoh’s cup

and setting it on Pharaoh’s hand; and that of the baker representing

himself also engaged in the performance of his official duties, bearing

into Pharaoh’s presence three wicker baskets of pastries and

confections, out of the uppermost of which the birds came to eat;

in the character of the events which they foreshadowed — the butler’s

dream prognosticating speedy restoration to his butlership, and the

baker’s dream most ominously pointing to early execution.


Ø      Their interpretations. These were:


o        Revealed by God. Joseph did not claim to be able of himself to interpret

the significance of either of the dreams, but explicitly affirmed that to

do so was exclusively the prerogative of Elohim.


o        Declared by Joseph. Thus Joseph was authenticated as a prophet of

the Lord in that heathen land.


o        Fulfilled by Pharaoh. Pharaoh was no doubt unconscious that he was

accomplishing a Divine prediction. So God is able to accord to men

complete liberty of action, and yet realize His own sovereign purpose.

Exactly as Joseph had interpreted, both as to time and as to results, the

dreams came true.




Ø      The interpreters request. Joseph desired in return for his services to the

butler that a word should be spoken for him to the king by that officer

when restored to his occupation, in the hope that it might lead to his

release from confinement. For this conduct Joseph has been blamed by

some censorious critics; but:


o        his request was natural. Though required to endure the crosses laid on

him by Divine providence with meekness and resignation, he was under

no obligation to stay a moment longer in prison than he could justly

help, but was rather bound to use all legitimate means to insure his

deliverance.  Then:


o        his request was moderate. He did not ask much at the butler’s hand in

return for his own great service, only that his name should be mentioned

to Pharaoh. Joseph was not exacting in his demands. Again:


o        his request was touching. As he tells the butler, in the hope of moving

him to pity, he was a stranger in a strange land, who had been forcibly

abducted, though he does not say by whom. What a token of the kindly

charity and truly forgiving spirit cherished by Joseph towards his

brethren!  And finally:


o        his request was just. He had done nothing to deserve imprisonment in

that or any other dungeon.


Ø      The interpreters reward. “Yet did not the chief butler remember

Joseph, but forgot him.” This must have been


o        a painful experience to Joseph, probably as cruel and unkind a blow as

any he had yet received; as certainly it was

o        a monstrous iniquity on the part of the butler, indicating a callous,

ungrateful, and truly base disposition, though unfortunately it is

o       a frequent occurrence in human life.


  • LEARN:


1. That God’s saints are sometimes thrown by Divine providence into

    companionship with the worst of men.

2. That the excellent of the earth are often found filling the very humblest


3. That God has many different methods of discovering His mind to men.

4. That God is able to fulfill His own predictions.

5. That wicked men sometimes meet their deserts in this life.

6. That God’s people should sympathize with and succor their fellow-men.

7. That they who do good to others should hope for nothing again.

    (Luke 6:35)




The Inspired Man (vs. 1-23)


Joseph is already supreme in the narrow sphere of the prison: “all was

committed to his hand.” The narrow sphere prepares him for the wider.

The spiritual supremacy has now to be revealed. “Do not interpretations

belong to God?” The dreams are partly of man and partly of God. Each

man dreamed of things connected with his life. The butler of the wine

coming from the grape-clusters, pressed into Pharaoh’s cup, given into his

hand. The baker of the white baskets and bakemeats, plucked from him

while upon his head by the birds of prey. To a certain extent the

interpretation was natural, but as at once communicated to Joseph it was

inspired. The sphere of inspiration is concentric with the sphere of the

natural intelligence and wisdom, but goes beyond it. The request of Joseph,

that his spiritual superiority should be recognized and rewarded, was not

fulfilled by the ungrateful man; but, as an act of obedience to the Spirit of

God, it was committed to Him who seeth in secret and rewardeth openly.

(Matthew 6:4)  Joseph is still being tried by the word of God. It is committed to

him as a messenger and witness for the covenant people. It tries his faith and

patience. The whole is a parable, setting forth:


1. The order of the world, as resting on the Divine foreknowledge and

appointment in connection with the elect instrumentalities, bringing the

things of Egypt under the dominion of the kingdom of God.


2. The providential hiding of gracious purposes. Joseph the seer in the

prison, waiting for the hour of redemption, sending forth messages of truth

to do their errands.


3. Invisible links between the rulers of this world and the representatives of

the kingdom of God to be revealed in due time.


4. Discipline in the lives of God’s people fruitful in blessed results, both for

them and for all.





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