The King’s Dreams
41 Two years later the king dreamed he was standing on the bank of the Nile River. 2 He saw seven fat and beautiful cows come up out of the river, and they stood there, eating the grass. 3 Then seven more cows came up out of the river, but they were thin and ugly. They stood beside the seven beautiful cows on the bank of the Nile. 4 The seven thin and ugly cows ate the seven beautiful fat cows. Then the king woke up. 5 The king slept again and dreamed a second time. In his dream he saw seven full and good heads of grain growing on one stalk. 6 After that, seven more heads of grain sprang up, but they were thin and burned by the hot east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain ate the seven full and good heads. Then the king woke up again, and he realized it was only a dream. 8 The next morning the king was troubled about these dreams, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. The king told them his dreams, but no one could explain their meaning to him.
9 Then the chief officer who served wine to the king said to him, “Now I remember something I promised to do, but I forgot about it. 10 There was a time when you were angry with the baker and me, and you put us in prison in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 In prison we each had a dream on the same night, and each dream had a different meaning. 12 A young Hebrew man, a servant of the captain of the guard, was in the prison with us. When we told him our dreams, he explained their meanings to us. He told each man the meaning of his dream, and 13 things happened exactly as he said they would: I was given back my old position, and the baker was hanged.”
14 So the king called for Joseph. The guards quickly brought him out of the prison, and he shaved, put on clean clothes, and went before the king.
15 The king said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can explain its meaning to me. I have heard that you can explain a dream when someone tells it to you.”
16 Joseph answered the king, “I am not able to explain the meaning of dreams, but God will do this for the king.”
17 Then the king said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile River. 18 I saw seven fat and beautiful cows that came up out of the river and ate the grass. 19 Then I saw seven more cows come out of the river that were thin and lean and ugly—the worst looking cows I have seen in all the land of Egypt. 20 And these thin and ugly cows ate the first seven fat cows, 21 but after they had eaten the seven cows, no one could tell they had eaten them. They looked just as thin and ugly as they did in the beginning. Then I woke up.
22 “I had another dream. I saw seven full and good heads of grain growing on one stalk. 23 Then seven more heads of grain sprang up after them, but these heads were thin and ugly and were burned by the hot east wind. 24 Then the thin heads ate the seven good heads. I told this dream to the magicians, but no one could explain its meaning to me.”
Joseph Tells the Dreams’ Meaning
25 Then Joseph said to the king, “Both of these dreams mean the same thing. God is telling you what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows stand for seven years, and the seven good heads of grain stand for seven years. Both dreams mean the same thing. 27 The seven thin and ugly cows stand for seven years, and the seven thin heads of grain burned by the hot east wind stand for seven years of hunger. 28 This will happen as I told you. God is showing the king what he is about to do. 29 You will have seven years of good crops and plenty to eat in all the land of Egypt. 30 But after those seven years, there will come seven years of hunger, and all the food that grew in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The time of hunger will eat up the land. 31 People will forget what it was like to have plenty of food, because the hunger that follows will be so great. 32 You had two dreams which mean the same thing. This shows that God has firmly decided that this will happen, and he will make it happen soon.
33 “So let the king choose a man who is very wise and understanding and set him over the land of Egypt. 34 And let the king also appoint officers over the land, who should take one-fifth of all the food that is grown during the seven good years. 35 They should gather all the food that is produced during the good years that are coming, and under the king’s authority they should store the grain in the cities and guard it. 36 That food should be saved to use during the seven years of hunger that will come on the land of Egypt. Then the people in Egypt will not die during the seven years of hunger.”
Joseph Is Made Ruler over Egypt
37 This seemed like a very good idea to the king, and all his officers agreed. 38 And the king asked them, “Can we find a better man than Joseph to take this job? God’s spirit is truly in him!”
39 So the king said to Joseph, “God has shown you all this. There is no one as wise and understanding as you are, so 40 I will put you in charge of my palace. All the people will obey your orders, and only I will be greater than you.”
41 Then the king said to Joseph, “Look! I have put you in charge of all the land of Egypt.” 42 Then the king took off from his own finger his ring with the royal seal on it, and he put it on Joseph’s finger. He gave Joseph fine linen clothes to wear, and he put a gold chain around Joseph’s neck. 43 The king had Joseph ride in the second royal chariot, and people walked ahead of his chariot calling, “Bow down!” By doing these things, the king put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt.
44 The king said to him, “I am the king, and I say that no one in all the land of Egypt may lift a hand or a foot without your permission.” 45 The king gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah. He also gave Joseph a wife named Asenath, who was the daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. So Joseph traveled through all the land of Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he began serving the king of Egypt. And he left the king’s court and traveled through all the land of Egypt. 47 During the seven good years, the crops in the land grew well. 48 And Joseph gathered all the food produced in Egypt during those seven years of good crops and stored the food in the cities. In every city he stored grain that had been grown in the fields around that city. 49 Joseph stored much grain, as much as the sand of the seashore—so much that he could not measure it.
50 Joseph’s wife was Asenath daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. Before the years of hunger came, Joseph and Asenath had two sons. 51 Joseph named the first son Manasseh[a] and said, “God has made me forget all the troubles I have had and all my father’s family.” 52 Joseph named the second son Ephraim[b] and said, “God has given me children in the land of my troubles.”
53 The seven years of good crops came to an end in the land of Egypt. 54 Then the seven years of hunger began, just as Joseph had said. In all the lands people had nothing to eat, but in Egypt there was food. 55 The time of hunger became terrible in all of Egypt, and the people cried to the king for food. He said to all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”
56 The hunger was everywhere in that part of the world. And Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the people of Egypt, because the time of hunger became terrible in Egypt. 57 And all the people in that part of the world came to Joseph in Egypt to buy grain because the hunger was terrible everywhere in that part of the world.
- 41:51 Manasseh This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “made me forget.”
- 41:52 Ephraim This name sounds like the Hebrew word for “given me children.”