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Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream

The Lord continued to prosper Joseph while he was in the house of his master Potiphar. Joseph was a goodly person and well-favored in appearance. Upon one occasion Potiphar's wife became very angry with him and carried her complaint to Potiphar himself. Joseph was not at all to blame, but because his wife was angry Potiphar was willing that Joseph should be cast into prison. Joseph was stripped of all his power and position and was thrown into the king's prison. But he soon found favor in the eyes of the keeper of the prison because the Lord was always with Joseph.

Shortly afterwards two of King Pharaoh's servants offended him. One of these was the baker, who attended the king's food, and the other was the butler, who attended to the service of the king's table. When King Pharaoh was angry with any of his servants he put them in prison. So these two servants, the baker and the butler, were thrown into the same prison with Joseph.

Now the butler and the baker each had a dream and what they saw in their dreams worried them greatly and in the morning when Joseph came to them they looked very sad. Joseph inquired of them why they looked so sad.

"We have dreamed a dream and there is no one here to interpret it," they told him.

Joseph then told them that if they would tell their dreams to him he would tell them the meaning.

And this is the dream that the chief butler told: "In my dream a vine was before me and on the vine were three branches and these branches budded and had blossoms and later on there were ripe grapes on the branches. Pharaoh's cup was in my hand and I took the grapes and pressed the juice into Pharaoh's cup and gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand. I pray you interpret this dream for me."

"This is the interpretation of your dream," said Joseph. "The three branches are three days. Within three days shall Pharaoh take you out of this prison and restore you unto your place and you shall again hand Pharaoh his cup and serve him at his table."

Then Joseph told the chief butler his story and how that he had been stolen away from the land of the Hebrews and how he had served Potiphar faithfully and that he was unjustly accused and thrown into prison; and he begged the chief butler to ask the king to restore him to his liberty.

The chief baker then told his dream to Joseph. Said he: "In my dream I had three white baskets on my head. In one of the baskets was all manner of meats for the king and the birds ate the meats out of the basket which was on my head. Now tell me the interpretation of this dream."

Joseph answered the chief baker and said: "The three baskets are three days. Within three days the king shall deliver you from this prison and shall hang you upon a tree and the birds shall eat of your flesh. This is the interpretation of your dream."

Now it happened that after three days came Pharaoh's birthday and he made a feast unto all his servants and he sent for the chief butler and the chief baker and delivered them out of prison. Then he made the chief butler serve him as he once did but he hanged the chief baker on a tree just as Joseph had said he would. The chief butler, however, forgot Joseph and did not mention his name to King Pharaoh.

Two years passed and still Joseph stayed in prison. Then Pharaoh dreamed a dream, and behold, he sat by a river. There came up out of the river seven cows that were well-fed and fat, and they wandered in a meadow. Also there came up seven other cows that were poorly-fed and lean. As the fat cows were feeding in the meadow the lean cows immediately fell upon them and devoured them. Then Pharaoh awoke.

Pharaoh slept and dreamed a second dream, and in this dream he saw seven ears of corn that came out upon one stalk and they were large and good. Then he saw seven thin ears that sprang up on another stalk, that were blasted by the east wind. The seven thin ears immediately devoured the seven good and full ears. And again Pharaoh awoke and his spirit was much troubled by the dreams he had dreamed.

He sent for his magicians and his wise men and told them his dreams but there was no one in all the land that could tell King Pharaoh what these two strange dreams meant. He even spoke to the chief butler about it. Then the chief butler remembered the dream that Joseph had interpreted to him and to the chief baker and how each interpretation had come true as Joseph had told them. Thereupon the butler said to the king:

"When the baker and I were in prison we both dreamed a dream in one night and there was in the prison a young man, a Hebrew, who was servant to Potiphar the captain of the guard, and we told our dream to him and he interpreted our dream to us. He told me that I was to be restored to my office in three days and he told the chief baker that he was to be hanged, and so it was, as Joseph had interpreted our dreams."

Then King Pharaoh sent at once and called Joseph out of prison and they brought him out of the dungeon into which he had been cast. Then he was shaved and bathed and his clothes were changed and he came before King Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to him: "Joseph, I have dreamed a dream and there is no one here that can interpret it, and I have heard it said that you can understand a dream and can tell me what it means."

Then Pharaoh told to Joseph the two strange dreams he had, one about the seven lean cows devouring the seven fat cows, and the other about the seven thin ears of corn devouring, the seven full ears. And Joseph listened to King Pharaoh while he told him of these dreams.

"Oh, king, your dream is but one dream," Joseph said to Pharaoh. "The seven fat cows and the seven full ears of corn are seven years of plenty in the land of Egypt; the seven lean cows and the seven thin ears of corn are also seven years, and they shall be years of famine in all the land of Egypt, and all the years of plenty shall be forgotten and the famine shall consume the land."

Joseph then advised Pharaoh to select a discreet and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt and appoint officers who should take a part of the crops of the seven years of plenty and gather all the food of these good years into barns and lay up corn in the cities to provide against the seven years of famine which should come, so that the people should not perish when there should be no crops.

This interpretation of his dreams seemed good to Pharaoh and he said to his servants: "Where can we find a man who is discreet and wise and who shall be over my house?"

The servants turned to Joseph and said that inasmuch as his God had showed him all this, and because he was a wise and discreet man, they would appoint him to be over the king's house and he should rule the land and no one in Egypt should be greater than Joseph save the king himself.

The advice of his servants was pleasing to Pharaoh. The king took the ring off his hand and put it upon Joseph's hand and had him clad in fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. He made him ride in a second chariot which he had, and everybody ran before Joseph and bowed the knee, and Joseph was made ruler over all the land of Egypt, and he was second to none, except the king himself.