GENESIS ch. 40 – 44

40:1 Some time afterward, the royal cupbearer and baker gave offense to their lord, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two courtiers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and he put them in custody in the house of the chief steward (the same jail where Joseph was confined). 4 The chief steward assigned Joseph to them, and he became their attendant. After they had been in custody for some time, 5 the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt who were confined in the jail both had dreams on the same night, each dream with its own meaning. 6 When Joseph came to them in the morning, he noticed that they looked disturbed. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s courtiers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8

They answered him, “We have had dreams, but there is no one to interpret them for us.” Joseph said to them, “Surely, interpretations come from God. Please tell the dreams to me.” 9 Then the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. “In my dream,” he said, “I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. It had barely budded when its blossoms came out, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes, pressed them out into his cup, and put it in Pharaoh’s hand.” 12

Joseph said to him: “This is what it means. The three branches are three days; 13 within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your post. You will be handing Pharaoh his cup as you formerly used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 So if you will still remember, when all is well with you, that I was here with you, please do me the favor of mentioning me to Pharaoh, to get me out of this place. 15 The truth is that I was kidnaped from the land of the Hebrews, and here I have not done anything for which I should have been put into a dungeon.” 16

When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given this favorable interpretation, he said to him: “I too had a dream. In it I had three wicker baskets on my head; 17 in the top one were all kinds of bakery products for Pharaoh, but the birds were pecking at them out of the basket on my head.” 18 Joseph said to him in reply: “This is what it means. The three baskets are three days; 19 within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and have you impaled on a stake, and the birds will be pecking the flesh from your body.” 20 And in fact, on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, when he gave a banquet to all his staff, with his courtiers around him, he lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and chief baker. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his office, so that he again handed the cup to Pharaoh; 22 but the chief baker he impaled– just as Joseph had told them in his interpretation. 23 Yet the chief cupbearer gave no thought to Joseph; he had forgotten him.

41:1 After a lapse of two years, Pharaoh had a dream. He saw himself standing by the Nile, 2 when up out of the Nile came seven cows, handsome and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. 3 Behind them seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, 4 the ugly, gaunt cows ate up the seven handsome, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5 He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 6 Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and blasted by the east wind; 7 and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up, to find it was only a dream.

 8 Next morning his spirit was agitated. So he summoned all the magicians and sages of Egypt and recounted his dreams to them; but no one could interpret his dreams for him. 9 Then the chief cupbearer spoke up and said to Pharaoh: “On this occasion I am reminded of my negligence. 10 Once, when Pharaoh was angry, he put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the chief steward. 11 Later, we both had dreams on the same night, and each of our dreams had its own meaning. 12 There with us was a Hebrew youth, a slave of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us and explained for each of us the meaning of his dream. 13 And it turned out just as he had told us: I was restored to my post, but the other man was impaled.” 14

Pharaoh therefore had Joseph summoned, and they hurriedly brought him from the dungeon. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he came into Pharaoh’s presence. 15 Pharaoh then said to him: “I had certain dreams that no one can interpret. But I hear it said of you that the moment you are told a dream you can interpret it.” 16 “It is not I,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God who will give Pharaoh the right answer.” 17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when up from the Nile came seven cows, fat and well-formed; they grazed in the reed grass. 19 Behind them came seven other cows, scrawny, most ill-formed and gaunt. Never have I seen such ugly specimens as these in all the land of Egypt! 20 The gaunt, ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows. 21 But when they had consumed them, no one could tell that they had done so, because they looked as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 In another dream I saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 23 Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, shriveled and thin and blasted by the east wind; 24 and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven healthy ears. I have spoken to the magicians, but none of them can give me an explanation.” 25 Joseph said to Pharaoh: “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams have the same meaning. God has thus foretold to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years– the same in each dream. 27 So also, the seven thin, ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven thin, wind-blasted ears; they are seven years of famine. 28

It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the land of Egypt; 30 but these will be followed by seven years of famine, when all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. When the famine has ravaged the land, 31 no trace of the abundance will be found in the land because of the famine that follows it– so utterly severe will that famine be. 32 That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been reaffirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about. 33 “Therefore, let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Pharaoh should also take action to appoint overseers, so as to regiment the land during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should husband all the food of the coming good years, collecting the grain under Pharaoh’s authority, to be stored in the towns for food. 36 This food will serve as a reserve for the country against the seven years of famine that are to follow in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.” 37 This advice pleased Pharaoh and all his officials.

38 “Could we find another like him,” Pharaoh asked his officials, “a man so endowed with the spirit of God?” 39 So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has made all this known to you, no one can be as wise and discerning as you are. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people shall dart at your command. Only in respect to the throne shall I outrank you. 41 Herewith,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “I place you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. He had him dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43 He then had him ride in the chariot of his vizier, and they shouted “Abrek!” before him. Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt.

 44 “I, Pharaoh, proclaim,” he told Joseph, “that without your approval no one shall move hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh also bestowed the name of Zaphnath-paneah on Joseph, and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. 46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. After Joseph left Pharaoh’s presence, he traveled throughout the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven years of plenty, when the land produced abundant crops, 48 he husbanded all the food of these years of plenty that the land of Egypt was enjoying and stored it in the towns, placing in each town the crops of the fields around it. 49 Joseph garnered grain in quantities like the sands of the sea, so vast that at last he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.

50 Before the famine years set in, Joseph became the father of two sons, borne to him by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. 51 He named his first-born Manasseh, meaning, “God has made me forget entirely the sufferings I endured at the hands of my family”; 52 and the second he named Ephraim, meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” 53 When the seven years of abundance enjoyed by the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 the seven years of famine set in, just as Joseph had predicted. Although there was famine in all the other countries, food was available throughout the land of Egypt. 55 When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them. 56 When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the cities that had grain and rationed it to the Egyptians, since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt. 57 In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain, for famine had gripped the whole world.

42:1 When Jacob learned that grain rations were available in Egypt, he said to his sons: “Why do you keep gaping at one another? 2 I hear,” he went on, “that rations of grain are available in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, that we may stay alive rather than die of hunger.” 3 So ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy an emergency supply of grain from Egypt. 4 It was only Joseph’s full brother Benjamin that Jacob did not send with the rest, for he thought some disaster might befall him. 5 Thus, since there was famine in the land of Canaan also, the sons of Israel were among those who came to procure rations.

 6 It was Joseph, as governor of the country, who dispensed the rations to all the people. When Joseph’s brothers came and knelt down before him with their faces to the ground, 7 he recognized them as soon as he saw them. But he concealed his own identity from them and spoke sternly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked them. They answered, “From the land of Canaan, to procure food.” 8 When Joseph recognized his brothers, although they did not recognize him, 9 he was reminded of the dreams he had about them. He said to them: “You are spies. You have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 10 “No, my lord,” they replied. “On the contrary, your servants have come to procure food. 11 All of us are sons of the same man. We are honest men; your servants have never been spies.” 12

But he answered them: “Not so! You have come to see the nakedness of the land.” 13 “We your servants,” they said, “were twelve brothers, sons of a certain man in Canaan; but the youngest one is at present with our father, and the other one is gone.” 14 “It is just as I said,” Joseph persisted; “you are spies. 15 This is how you shall be tested: unless your youngest brother comes here, I swear by the life of Pharaoh that you shall not leave here. 16 So send one of your number to get your brother, while the rest of you stay here under arrest. Thus shall your words be tested for their truth; if they are untrue, as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 With that, he locked them up in the guardhouse for three days. 18

On the third day Joseph said to them: “Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-fearing man. 19 If you have been honest, only one of your brothers need be confined in this prison, while the rest of you may go and take home provisions for your starving families. 20 But you must come back to me with your youngest brother. Your words will thus be verified, and you will not die.” To this they agreed. 21 To one another, however, they said: “Alas, we are being punished because of our brother. We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us, yet we paid no heed; that is why this anguish has now come upon us.” 22 “Didn’t I tell you,” broke in Reuben, “not to do wrong to the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now comes the reckoning for his blood.” 23

They did not know, of course, that Joseph understood what they said, since he spoke with them through an interpreter. 24 But turning away from them, he wept. When he was able to speak to them again, he had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. 25 Then Joseph gave orders to have their containers filled with grain, their money replaced in each one’s sack, and provisions given them for their journey. After this had been done for them, 26 they loaded their donkeys with the rations and departed. 27 At the night encampment, when one of them opened his bag to give his donkey some fodder, he was surprised to see his money in the mouth of his bag. 28 “My money has been returned!” he cried out to his brothers. “Here it is in my bag!” At that their hearts sank. Trembling, they asked one another, “What is this that God has done to us?” 29

When they got back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. 30 “The man who is lord of the country,” they said, “spoke to us sternly and put us in custody as if we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him: ‘We are honest men; we have never been spies. 32 There were twelve of us brothers, sons of the same father; but one is gone, and the youngest one is at present with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 Then the man who is lord of the country said to us: ‘This is how I shall know if you are honest men: leave one of your brothers with me, while the rest of you go home with rations for your starving families. 34 When you come back to me with your youngest brother, and I know that you are honest men and not spies, I will restore your brother to you, and you may move about freely in the land.'” 35 When they were emptying their sacks, there in each one’s sack was his moneybag! At the sight of their moneybags, they and their father were dismayed. 36

Their father Jacob said to them: “Must you make me childless? Joseph is gone, and Simeon is gone, and now you would take away Benjamin! Why must such things always happen to me?” 37 Then Reuben told his father: “Put him in my care, and I will bring him back to you. You may kill my own two sons if I do not return him to you.” 38 But Jacob replied: “My son shall not go down with you. Now that his full brother is dead, he is the only one left. If some disaster should befall him on the journey you must make, you would send my white head down to the nether world in grief.”

43:1 Now the famine in the land grew more severe. 2 So when they had used up all the rations they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and procure us a little more food.” 3 But Judah replied: “The man strictly warned us, ‘You shall not appear in my presence unless your brother is with you.’ 4 If you are willing to let our brother go with us, we will go down to procure food for you. 5 But if you are not willing, we will not go down, because the man told us, ‘You shall not appear in my presence unless your brother is with you.'” 6 Israel demanded, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man that you had another brother?” 7 They answered: “The man kept asking about ourselves and our family: ‘Is your father still living? Do you have another brother?’ We had to answer his questions. How could we know that he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” 8

Then Judah urged his father Israel: “Let the boy go with me, that we may be off and on our way if you and we and our children are to keep from starving to death. 9 I myself will stand surety for him. You can hold me responsible for him. If I fail to bring him back, to set him in your presence, you can hold it against me forever. 10 Had we not dilly-dallied, we could have been there and back twice by now!” 11 Their father Israel then told them: “If it must be so, then do this: Put some of the land’s best products in your baggage and take them down to the man as gifts: some balm and honey, gum and resin, and pistachios and almonds. 12 Also take extra money along, for you must return the amount that was put back in the mouths of your bags; it may have been a mistake. 13 Take your brother, too, and be off on your way back to the man. 14 May God Almighty dispose the man to be merciful toward you, so that he may let your other brother go, as well as Benjamin. As for me, if I am to suffer bereavement, I shall suffer it.” 15

So the men got the gifts, took double the amount of money with them, and, accompanied by Benjamin, were off on their way down to Egypt to present themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he told his head steward, “Take these men into the house, and have an animal slaughtered and prepared, for they are to dine with me at noon.” 17 Doing as Joseph had ordered, the steward conducted the men to Joseph’s house.

18 But on being led to his house, they became apprehensive. “It must be,” they thought, “on account of the money put back in our bags the first time, that we are taken inside; they want to use it as a pretext to attack us and take our donkeys and seize us as slaves.” 19 So they went up to Joseph’s head steward and talked to him at the entrance of the house. 20 “If you please, sir,” they said, “we came down here once before to procure food. 21 But when we arrived at a night’s encampment and opened our bags, there was each man’s money in the mouth of his bag– our money in the full amount! We have now brought it back. 22 We have brought other money to procure food with. We do not know who put the first money in our bags.” 23 “Be at ease,” he replied; “you have no need to fear. Your God and the God of your father must have put treasures in your bags for you. As for your money, I received it.” With that, he led Simeon out to them.

24 The steward then brought the men inside Joseph’s house. He gave them water to bathe their feet, and got fodder for their donkeys. 25 Then they set out their gifts to await Joseph’s arrival at noon, for they had heard that they were to dine there. 26 When Joseph came home, they presented him with the gifts they had brought inside, while they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 After inquiring how they were, he asked them, “And how is your aged father, of whom you spoke? Is he still in good health?” 28 “Your servant our father is thriving and still in good health,” they said, as they bowed respectfully. 29

When Joseph’s eye fell on his full brother Benjamin, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, of whom you told me?” Then he said to him, “May God be gracious to you, my boy!” 30 With that, Joseph had to hurry out, for he was so overcome with affection for his brother that he was on the verge of tears. He went into a private room and wept there. 31 After washing his face, he reappeared and, now in control of himself, gave the order, “Serve the meal.” 32 It was served separately to him, to the brothers, and to the Egyptians who partook of his board. (Egyptians may not eat with Hebrews; that is abhorrent to them.) 33 When they were seated by his directions according to their age, from the oldest to the youngest, they looked at one another in amazement; 34 and as portions were brought to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as large as anyone else’s. So they drank freely and made merry with him.

44:1 Then Joseph gave his head steward these instructions: “Fill the men’s bags with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s money in the mouth of his bag. 2 In the mouth of the youngest one’s bag put also my silver goblet, together with the money for his rations.” The steward carried out Joseph’s instructions. 3 At daybreak the men and their donkeys were sent off. 4 They had not gone far out of the city when Joseph said to his head steward: “Go at once after the men! When you overtake them, say to them, ‘Why did you repay good with evil? Why did you steal the silver goblet from me? 5 It is the very one from which my master drinks and which he uses for divination. What you have done is wrong.'” 6

When the steward overtook them and repeated these words to them, 7 they remonstrated with him: “How can my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do such a thing! 8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the money that we found in the mouths of our bags. Why, then, would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If any of your servants is found to have the goblet, he shall die, and as for the rest of us, we shall become my lord’s slaves.” 10 But he replied, “Even though it ought to be as you propose, only the one who is found to have it shall become my slave, and the rest of you shall be exonerated.” 11 Then each of them eagerly lowered his bag to the ground and opened it; 12 and when a search was made, starting with the oldest and ending with the youngest, the goblet turned up in Benjamin’s bag. 13

At this, they tore their clothes. Then, when each man had reloaded his donkey, they returned to the city. 14 As Judah and his brothers reentered Joseph’s house, he was still there; so they flung themselves on the ground before him. 15 “How could you do such a thing?” Joseph asked them. “You should have known that such a man as I could discover by divination what happened.” 16 Judah replied: “What can we say to my lord? How can we plead or how try to prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. Here we are, then, the slaves of my lord– the rest of us no less than the one in whose possession the goblet was found.” 17


“Far be it from me to act thus!” said Joseph. “Only the one in whose possession the goblet was found shall become my slave; the rest of you may go back safe and sound to your father.” 18 Judah then stepped up to him and said: “I beg you, my lord, let your servant speak earnestly to my lord, and do not become angry with your servant, for you are the equal of Pharaoh. 19 My lord asked your servants, ‘Have you a father, or another brother?’ 20 So we said to my lord, ‘We have an aged father, and a young brother, the child of his old age. This one’s full brother is dead, and since he is the only one by that mother who is left, his father dotes on him.’ 21 Then you told your servants, ‘Bring him down to me that my eyes may look on him.’ 22 We replied to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; his father would die if he were to leave him.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes back with you, you shall not come into my presence again.’ 24

When we returned to your servant our father, we reported to him the words of my lord. 25 “Later, our father told us to come back and buy some food for the family. 26 So we reminded him, ‘We cannot go down there; only if our youngest brother is with us can we go, for we may not see the man if our youngest brother is not with us.’ 27 Then your servant our father said to us, ‘As you know, my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them, however, disappeared, and I had to conclude that he must have been torn to pieces by wild beasts; I have not seen him since. 29 If you now take this one away from me too, and some disaster befalls him, you will send my white head down to the nether world in grief.’ 30

“If then the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, whose very life is bound up with his, he will die as soon as he sees that the boy is missing; 31 and your servants will thus send the white head of our father down to the nether world in grief. 32 Besides, I, your servant, got the boy from his father by going surety for him, saying, ‘If I fail to bring him back to you, father, you can hold it against me forever.’ 33 Let me, your servant, therefore, remain in place of the boy as the slave of my lord, and let the boy go back with his brothers. 34 How could I go back to my father if the boy were not with me? I could not bear to see the anguish that would overcome my father.”








This talk is by Judy Hoelzeman.

Classic OT themes: family, relationships, human weakness.   Grief, guilt, envy.

4 Major topics:

  1. Jacob’s grief
  2. Journey as a metaphor for life
  3. Hope and trust
  4. Judah’s speech


Jacob’s grief

Strongest Hebrew word for sorrow.

Kushner: When Bad Things Happen to Good People: “I am a more sensitive person, a more effective pastor, a more sympathetic counselor because of Aaron’s life and death than I would ever have been without it.  And I would give up all of those gains in a second if I could have my son back … I would forego all the spiritual growth and depth which has come my way because of our experiences and be what I was fifteen years ago, an average rabbi, an indifferent counselor … and the father of a bright, happy boy.”

Jacob is an average father.  Wants to protect himself from further loss.  That changes in chapter 43:  “May god almighty grant you mercy in the presence of the man, so that he may let your other brother go, as well as Benjamin.” Gen. 43:14


Best way to help grieving parents and others: be quietly present with them.  Allow them to talk honestly as long as possible.  Use the name and talk about them.  Allow to cry.  Acknowledge the pain and loss.


Gen. 43:14  “If I am to suffer bereavement, I shall suffer it.”


Journey as a metaphor for life

God uses human beings to fulfill his covenant.  Physical and inner journeys are many throughout the OT.

First for Joseph: from prisoner to steward.  The brothers of Joseph take two long and dangerous journeys from Jacob to Egypt.   “I know that God wants us in this new place.”

“Abraham left his home without knowing where he was going, a sure sign he was going the right way.“  Gregory of Nyssa

Joseph grows to see that he is dependent to a God who is present to him.  “Joseph said to them: “Do this, and you shall live; for I am a God-Fearing man.”  Gen. 42:18


The brothers also have an inner journey.  From this: “When Jacob learned that grain rations were for sale in Egypt, he said to his sons: “Why do you keep looking at one another?”  Gen. 42:1

Sin = being disconnected from God through the failure to love.

“Right relationship” = living, in harmony with the community & acting justly toward all within the community

As they grow they come to see: “Truly we are being punished because of our brother.  We saw the anguish of his heart when he pleaded with us.”  Gen. 42:21

Our faith journey is primarily responding to God’s presence in our lives.


Hope and trust

Fear and worry from events in the world, contrast with Jacob’s faith and trust in God.  “Joseph’s faith tells him that God will cause the future and God’s power can be relied upon to bring it about.”

“Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the LORD that endures.”  Prov. 19:21

“Trust in” is more important than “assent to.”

Trust implies action and practice.  Walter Bruggemann.

“It is not I … but God who will respond for the well-being of Pharaoh”  Gen 41:16

“God has made known to Pharaoh what he is about to do.”

“The matter has been confirmed by God and God will soon bring it about.”  Gen. 41:32


Hope truly ought to be a distinctive mark of our Christian faith in today’s world.


Judah’s speech:

Important as summary of journey from Canaan to Egypt, and spiritual journey from sin, take responsibility, repent, and be forgiven.

He urged the sale of Joseph, now shows the hope of redemption.





Chapter 40

Brueggemann p. 320.   Chapter 39 to 41 is, more or less, a unit.  39 and 40 prepare for chapter 41.  Conflict and pain get resolved in 41.


Brueggemann p. 320: “Also like 39, the chapter offers a clear and balanced structure.  It begins with the two dreams of the baker and the butler.  In this section the dreams are uninterpreted.  It concludes with closure to these events, with one royal servant (the butler) being given live, and the other royal servant (the baker) given over to death.”


Brueggemann p. 322:  “The dreams of this chapter have no independent importance.  They offer ways of presenting Joseph.  The narrative has no interest in the butler or the baker, or even in the Pharaoh who has a birthday.  The interest is in the destiny of Joseph, his sorry lot and his unusual authority.”


Scherman p. 217: “Because Potiphar’s accursed wife had made Joseph the subject of general gossip, God now arranged for a new scandal: He caused two of Pharaoh’s officials to be thrown into prison so that the capital would be abuzz with their offenses and attention would be diverted away from Joseph.”  And to use them to get before Pharaoh.  “In the case of the cupbearer, a fly was found in Pharaoh’s goblet of wine, while in the case of the baker, a pebble was discovered in the king’s bread. (Rashi)”


Parallels in the dreams from the royal servant.  In one “he will lift up your head and restore you…” and in the other “Pharaoh will lift your head from you” – behead you.


Brueggemann p. 322: strong claim being made.  Dreams are from God, dreams are given interpretation through God – not human beings or divination.


Brueggemann p. 324: “The sequence is rather obvious and expected.  The public role of Joseph is grand and sweeping.  He speaks.  And it happens as he has said.  The inscrutable and authoritative way of God in the mouth of Joseph brings life and it brings death.  The future is unfathomable.  It can only be received.”


Contrast between Joseph and Pharaoh is strong.  Physical power vs. spiritual power.  One in luxury the other in prison.  Both are in need but of different things.


Joseph uses the term for “bring me out” that is laying the groundwork for Exodus


Brueggemann p. 325: “Joseph is left to Wait even as father Abraham had.  The butler forgets Joseph now, even as Egypt will forget him.  Joseph is left with this question: Is there a remembering done the LORD beyond the forgetting of the empire?  Joseph does not know. The butler does not care.”




Chapter 41

Bruegemann p. 326: “Only now the dream to rule from chapter 37 is given substance.  The focus of this chapter is upon the inscrutable power of that dream, unrecognized by Pharaoh and even to Joseph.”  The power of the wise men of Egypt is gone, empty.


Bruegemann p. 327: “The one accustomed to presiding is now placed in the dock.  With Pharaoh (as with Herod and Pilate) the power of the empire is put in question and refuted by the dream.”  The power of the pharaoh and of Egypt itself is a façade.


In the chapter the totality of God’s control is emphasized by the use of “all”.  All the land, all the food, all myt father’s house, all the lands ….   A comparison may be made with Psalm 145

Praise. Of David.

I will extol you, my God and king;

I will bless your name forever and ever.

2Every day I will bless you;

I will praise your name forever and ever.


3Great is the LORD and worthy of much praise,

whose grandeur is beyond understanding.

4One generation praises your deeds to the next

and proclaims your mighty works.

5They speak of the splendor of your majestic glory,

tell of your wonderful deeds.

6They speak of the power of your awesome acts

and recount your great deeds.


7They celebrate your abounding goodness

and joyfully sing of your justice.

8The LORD is gracious and merciful,

slow to anger and abounding in mercy.

9The LORD is good to all,

compassionate toward all your works.

10All your works give you thanks, LORD

and your faithful bless you.



11They speak of the glory of your reign

and tell of your mighty works,

12Making known to the sons of men your mighty acts,

the majestic glory of your rule.

13Your reign is a reign for all ages,

your dominion for all generations.


The LORD is trustworthy in all his words,

and loving in all his works.

14The LORD supports all who are falling

and raises up all who are bowed down.

15The eyes of all look hopefully to you;

you give them their food in due season.

16You open wide your hand

and satisfy the desire of every living thing.


17The LORD is just in all his ways,

merciful in all his works.

18The LORD is near to all who call upon him,

to all who call upon him in truth.

19He fulfills the desire of those who fear him;

he hears their cry and saves them.

20The LORD watches over all who love him,

but all the wicked he destroys.

21My mouth will speak the praises of the LORD;

all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.


Which god is about to act is left unspecified.  The interpretation of the dream leaves no doubt that pharaoh is powerless and that what will happen is solely up to god.


Brueggemann p. 330: “The future in Egypt does not depend upon Pharaoh.  He does not get to decide.  In fact, Pharaoh is irrelevant and marginal to the future of the kingdom.”    “In this enormous claim, we are not dealing with a marginal incident in the Bible.  We are confronted here with the very premise of much of biblical faith: God has the capacity to work newness against every administered convention.  That premise is fundamental to the Exodus, where the same Nile is used as a sign of god’s intervention.”


That God has a plan does not mean that we do not have a role or that we should not plan.  We must bring our plans and actions into alignment with God’s plan.


Chapters 42, 43, 44

First dream – rule over his brothers, latest dream rule over Egypt.

Brueggemann p. 335: “Chapters 39 – 41 concern Joseph’s rise in the empire of Egypt and his rule over Egypt.  Parallel to that, chapters 42 – 44 concern his rule over his brothers and his father.  Thus, the present chapters more directly concern the fulfillment of the dreams over the family.  And yet, the rule over his brothers could only happen as a result of his rule over Egypt.”


Brueggemann p. 337: “In addition to food, this family struggles for survival at several levels.  The struggle for survival is at the same time a struggle for faith, a struggle to trust in a promise, and a struggle to believe in the power of a dream.  The intricacies of family relations become the mode in which faithfulness is at issue and in which the future must be received.  We are concerned with a specific family battling with a specific dream.  Survival and faithfulness are demanding issues in the empire.  But they are no less so in the family.”


Brueggemann p. 338   three times the brothers bow to Joseph (as the earliest dream foretold)

–          Bowed faces to the ground, bowed their heads, they fell before him to the ground.


Scherman p. 237: “Having said that he would keep one of the brothers in Egypt as a hostage, Joseph now chose Simeon.  The reason for this choice was because he was the one who had thrown Joseph into the pit and who had said derisively, “Look! That dreamer is coming”.


Brueggemann p. 342: “Every person and every family knows about these extremities of pain and estrangement in which humanness is at issue.  Where yearning and hurt, deception and grief, hope and ruthlessness come together is where this special family moves toward dream fulfillment.


Scherman p. 241: “When Jacob said, ‘Upon ME has it all fallen’ (42:36) he implied, as mentioned by the commentators, that only a father could realize the magnitude of the loss of two of his children.  Of all the brothers, only Judah who had lost two children (38:7, 10) could appreciate his father’s grief.  Therefore, when he accepted responsibility for Benjamin’s welfare, Jacob acquiesced.”

Judah got a wife named Tamar for his firstborn, Er .7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, greatly offended the LORD; so the LORD took his life. 8  Then Judah said to Onan, “Have intercourse with your brother’s wife, in fulfillment of your duty as brother-in-law, and thus preserve your brother’s line.” 9 Onan, however, knew that the offspring would not be his; so whenever he had intercourse with his brother’s wife, he wasted his seed on the ground, to avoid giving offspring to his brother. 10 What he did greatly offended the LORD, and the LORD took his life too.  Genesis 38:6-10


The end of chapter 44 leaves things unresolved.

Scherman p. 248  When the bloodstained coat arrived to Joseph he rent his garments in grief.  Now the brothers rend their garments in sorrow and grief.


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