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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

Chapter 41

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1Two years later Pharaoh had a dream: he was standing by the Nile, 2when there came up from the river seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3Presently seven other cows, gaunt and lean, came up from the river, and stood beside the cows on the river bank. 4The cows that were gaunt and lean devoured the seven cows that were sleek and fat. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5He fell asleep again and had a second dream: he saw seven ears of grain, full and ripe, growing on a single stalk. 6Springing up after them were seven other ears, thin and shrivelled by the east wind. 7The thin ears swallowed up the seven ears that were full and plump. Then Pharaoh woke up and found it was a dream.

8In the morning Pharaoh's mind was so troubled that he summoned all the dream-in-terpreters and wise men of Egypt, and told them his dreams; but there was no one who could interpret them for him. 9Then Pharaoh's chief cupbearer spoke up. ‘Now I must mention my offences,’ he said: 10‘Pharaoh was angry with his servants, and imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11One night we both had dreams, each requiring its own interpretation. 12We had with us there a young Hebrew, a slave of the captain of the guard, and when we told him our dreams he interpreted them for us, giving each dream its own interpretation. 13Things turned out exactly as the dreams had been interpreted to us: I was restored to my post, the other was hanged.’

14Pharaoh thereupon sent for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon. After he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh, 15who said to him, ‘I have had a dream which no one can interpret. I have heard that you can interpret any dream you hear.’ 16Joseph answered, ‘Not I, but God, can give an answer which will reassure Pharaoh.’ 17Then Pharaoh said to him: ‘In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when there came up from the river seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19After them seven other cows came up that were in poor condition, very gaunt and lean; in all Egypt I have never seen such gaunt creatures. 20These lean, gaunt cows devoured the first cows, the seven fat ones. 21They were swallowed up, but no one could have told they were in the bellies of the others, which looked just as gaunt as before. Then I woke up. 22In another dream I saw seven ears of grain, full and ripe, growing on a single stalk. 23Springing up after them were seven other ears, blighted, thin, and shrivelled by the east wind. 24The thin ears swallowed up the seven ripe ears. When I spoke to the dream-interpreters, no one could tell me the meaning.’

25Joseph said to Pharaoh, ‘Pharaoh's dreams are both the same; God has told Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good ears of grain are seven years – it is all one dream. 27The seven lean and gaunt cows that came up after them are seven years, and so also are the seven empty ears of grain blighted by the east wind; there are going to be seven years of famine. 28It is as I have told Pharaoh: God has let Pharaoh see what he is about to do. 29There are to be seven years of bumper harvests throughout Egypt. 30After them will come seven years of famine; so that the great harvests in Egypt will all be forgotten, and famine will ruin the country. 31The good years will leave no trace in the land because of the famine that follows, for it will be very severe. 32That Pharaoh has dreamed this twice means God is firmly resolved on this plan, and very soon he will put it into effect.

33‘Let Pharaoh now look for a man of vision and wisdom and put him in charge of the country. 34Pharaoh should take steps to appoint commissioners over the land to take one fifth of the produce of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. 35They should collect all food produced in the good years that are coming and put the grain under Pharaoh's control as a store of food to be kept in the towns. 36This food will be a reserve for the country against the seven years of famine which will come on Egypt, and so the country will not be devastated by the famine.’

37The plan commended itself both to Pharaoh and to all his officials, 38and Pharaoh asked them, ‘Could we find another man like this, one so endowed with the spirit of God?’ 39To Joseph he said, ‘Since God has made all this known to you, no one has your vision and wisdom. 40You shall be in charge of my household, and all my people will respect your every word. Only in regard to the throne shall I rank higher than you.’ 41Pharaoh went on, ‘I hereby give you authority over the whole land of Egypt.’ 42He took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph's finger; he had him dressed in robes of fine linen, and hung a gold chain round his neck. 43He mounted him in his viceroy's chariot and men cried ‘Make way a 41:43 Make way: Egyptian word of uncertain meaning. !’ before him. Thus Pharaoh made him ruler over all Egypt44and said to him, ‘I am the Pharaoh, yet without your consent no one will lift hand or foot throughout Egypt.’ 45Pharaoh named him Zaphenath-paneah, and he gave him as his wife Asenath daughter of Potiphera priest of On. Joseph's authority extended over the whole of Egypt.

46Joseph was thirty years old at the time he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. When he left the royal presence, he made a tour of inspection through the land. 47During the seven years of plenty when there were abundant harvests, 48Joseph gathered all the food produced in Egypt then and stored it in the towns, putting in each the food from the surrounding country. 49He stored the grain in huge quantities; it was like the sand of the sea, so much that he stopped measuring: it was beyond all measure.

50Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera priest of On. 51He named the elder Manasseh b 41:51 Manasseh: that is Causing to forget. , ‘for’, he said, ‘God has made me forget all my troubles and my father's family’. 52He named the second Ephraim c 41:52 Ephraim: that is Fruit. , ‘for’, he said, ‘God has made me fruitful in the land of my hardships’. 53When the seven years of plenty in Egypt came to an end, 54the seven years of famine began, as Joseph had predicted. There was famine in every country, but there was food throughout Egypt. 55When the famine came to be felt through all Egypt, the people appealed to Pharaoh for food and he ordered them to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them. 56When the whole land was in the grip of famine, Joseph opened all the granaries d 41:56 the granaries: so Gk; Heb. which was in them. and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe. 57The whole world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, so severe was the famine everywhere.

Notes:

a 41:43 Make way: Egyptian word of uncertain meaning.

b 41:51 Manasseh: that is Causing to forget.

c 41:52 Ephraim: that is Fruit.

d 41:56 the granaries: so Gk; Heb. which was in them.

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