Chapter 40

Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams

    • Time passed, and the king’s cupbearer and baker did something to make him very angry. He was so angry that he put them in the same prison that Joseph was in- in the palace of the captain of the guard. They were both assigned to Joseph and he served as their personal attendant. They were in custody for a long time.

      • HCSB commentary notes, “The king’s ‘cupbearer’ (or butler) and ‘baker’ were highly trusted “officers” in ancient royal courts. They made sure that the king was not poisoned in his food or drink, and because they were highly trusted, both often served as his advisors. The honor of their position is reflected by the fact that, though they had ‘offended’ Pharaoh, their imprisonment was a kind of house arrest in which Joseph served as their ‘personal attendant’.”

      • “This favorable treatment of Joseph by the captain of the guard shows that Potiphar did not really believe the accusations his wife made against Joseph. We know this because Potiphar himself was the captain of the guard (Genesis 39:1).” (Guzik)

      • “But we never lose sight of the over-arching reason: whatever external reason they were sent to prison, in God’s great plan they were really there to meet Joseph.” (Guzik)

    • One night, both the cupbearer and the baker had a dream, and each dream had its own meaning.

    • When Joseph saw them the next morning he noticed that they both looked upset, so he asked them what was wrong.

    • They told Joseph that they had both had dreams, but no one could tell them what the dreams meant.

    • Joseph responded, “Interpreting dreams is God’s business. Tell me what you dreamed.”

      • “Because of his own previous dreams (37:5-10), and his ability to interpret them straightforwardly, Joseph was confident the Lord would allow him to interpret the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker. Joseph’s question- ‘Don’t interpretations belong to God?’- was a bold declaration of faith, especially since he had not yet heard the dreams.” (HCSB commentary)

      • Guzik, however, offers this important warning about dreams that we should all be mindful of, “God may certainly speak through dreams and many passages of Scripture show this (Genesis 20:3; 28:12; 31:11; 31:24; Numbers 12:6; 1 Samuel 28:6; Joel 2:28; Matthew 1:20; 2:13; 2:22). However, not every dream is a revelation from God. We must be careful about putting too much weight on dreams. Dreams can come just because our minds are busy: A dream comes through much activity…For in the multitude of dreams and many words there is also vanity. (Ecclesiastes 5:3, 5:7) The Bible warns that false prophets might use dreams to give weight to their message (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, Jeremiah 23:25-28).”

    • The cupbearer told Joseph his dream first, “I dreamed that that there was a vine in front of me with three branches on it. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand. I took the grapes, squeezed them into his cup, and put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.”

    • Joseph gave him this interpretation, “The three branches represent three days. In three days, Pharaoh will restore you to your position as cupbearer.”

    • Then Joseph asked the cupbearer to please do him the favor of of mentioning him to Pharaoh when he was restored to his position. Joseph explained that he had been kidnapped from his Hebrew homeland and had done nothing to end up imprisoned in the dungeon.

    • When the baker saw that the cupbearer’s dream had a favorable meaning he told Joseph his own dream, “I dreamed that I had three baskets of white bread on top of my head for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating the bread out of the baskets.”

    • Joseph gave the baker this interpretation, “The three baskets represent three days. In three days the Pharaoh will hang you from a tree and birds will eat your flesh.”

    • Joseph’s interpretations proved to be true; three days later the Pharaoh had a feast for all of his servants in honor of his birthday. He restored the cupbearer to his position, but he hanged the baker.

    • The cupbearer, however, forgot all about Joseph.

      • “Here Joseph was wronged again. He thought that butler’s kindness might mean his release from prison, but it was not to be. God had another purpose. All men God uses greatly, He first prepares greatly. Few are willing to endure the greatness of God’s preparation. God orders both our steps and stops.” (Guzik)