Joseph – week 2, day 5


TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:14-24 (ESV*)

Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh. And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Behold, in my dream I was standing on the banks of the Nile. Seven cows, plump and attractive, came up out of the Nile and fed in the reed grass. Seven other cows came up after them, poor and very ugly and thin, such as I had never seen in all the land of Egypt. And the thin, ugly cows ate up the first seven plump cows, but when they had eaten them no one would have known that they had eaten them, for they were still as ugly as at the beginning. Then I awoke. I also saw in my dream seven ears growing on one stalk, full and good. Seven ears, withered, thin, and blighted by the east wind, sprouted after them, and the thin ears swallowed up the seven good ears. And I told it to the magicians, but there was no one who could explain it to me.”


Quote BeginI was in that prison for over a decade. I’m not complaining. I fully realize that my time there could have been much worse. The warden put me to good use, and I was relatively comfortable there. But I have to admit that there were times I despaired of ever being free again. I had many hours each day to think about my childhood, and all that my father tried to teach me. I wish I had appreciated it all more at the time. I thought when the cupbearer was restored to his position, he would remember to tell Pharaoh about me. But two more years went by with no word. And then, just as suddenly as it all started, here I am in the Pharaoh’s palace. The Pharaoh told me about that he had two dreams that he needed me to interpret. I knew very well what was at stake here. If I wasn’t able to interpret for him…back to the prison for me. I remembered my father talking about his God, and I told Pharaoh, “I cannot do it, but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” That answer seemed to work for Pharaoh, and he began to tell me the dreams…Quote End
— Joseph


  • The Hebrew word used in verse 14 for “dungeon” is bôr, which can also be translated as “pit,” “cistern,” or “well.” This is the same word that is used for the pit that the brothers threw Joseph into in 37:22. What is the significance of this?
  • How would you imagine Joseph is feeling as he moves from pit to palace?
  • What could be the significance to Joseph’s shaving and changing clothes before the interview with Pharaoh, beyond his need to be cleaned up?
  • Pharaoh tells Joseph that he has heard that Joseph can interpret dreams. Joseph had interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and baker in prison without hesitation, so why here does he tell Pharaoh that he cannot do it, but that God can?
  • How would you have felt in Joseph’s shoes as Pharaoh related the contents of his dreams?
  • What do you imagine the court magicians and counselors were thinking as they waited to hear Joseph’s answer?

* Click here to view an engraving by Gustav Dore of Joseph’s audience with the Pharaoh. Courtesy of the Wesley Center online. To view a painting by Peter von Cornelius on Wikipedia, click here.

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