Genesis: The Beginning
Joseph Interprets Dreams 2-5-16
Yesterday, we read about how Joseph became the overseer of Potiphar’s house. We also read how Potiphar’s wife lied about Joseph’s behavior and this innocent man found himself in the royal prison. Today, we will stay in the prison with Joseph to encounter Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker.
Senusert II is most likely the Pharaoh of Egypt at the time. Pharaoh uses this royal prison to hold his disobedient staff while they are awaiting sentence. Joseph is in charge of the prisoners and has been so for a long time; he looks over their wellbeing (He is a spiritual shepherd). Pharaoh’s cupbearer (the person who brings Pharaoh his food and drink; he tastes them in the presence of Pharaoh to make sure nothing is poisonous) and baker (the person who makes Pharaoh his food) somehow offend their master and they find themselves in the royal prison under Joseph’s watch. They have proven themselves untrustworthy in some way. While they are in prison these two men have dreams they cannot interpret for themselves. In ancient Egypt, dreams are perceived as vehicles to provide insight about the future.
Joseph stops by to check on the prisoners and finds the cupbearer and the baker unsettled by their dreams. Wow, dreams are what brought about Joseph’s slavery in the first place. He has to deal with more dreams? Is God really going to send Joseph to extend himself to interpret the dreams of others before his very own dreams become clear? Yes, God is calling Joseph to grow to a new level of compassion and service for Him. Joseph quickly reminds these two men only God can interpret dreams, because God has made the human mind. Joseph does not take credit for what only God can do and in a pagan culture Joseph points to the Most High God. Then, Joseph invites the cupbearer and the baker to reveal their dreams to him while he listens.
Joseph is given the interpretation for the two dreams: In three days, the cupbearer will be restored to honor in Pharaoh’s service [an image of spiritual life], and in three days, Pharaoh will decapitate the baker and demand his body be impaled on a pole [an image of spiritual death] where the birds will peck at his flesh. Egyptian thought at the time is if a body is left outside and not buried it will prevent the spirit of the dead from resting in the afterlife. Well, I certainly choose the cupbearer’s future, don’t you? Joseph asks the cupbearer to put in a good word for him to Pharaoh when he is reinstated into royal service.
Three days later it is time to celebrate Pharaoh’s birthday. It is the custom at the time to show favor to some prisoners on this special day. The cupbearer is restored and the baker is executed. Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams to the cupbearer and the baker affirms Joseph’s ability as a prophet. It must have given him greater hope in thinking that one day his dreams might actually be fulfilled, as well. Joseph is hoping the cupbearer will be so appreciative he will speak to Pharaoh about Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams. Our reading tells us though the cupbearer does not speak to Pharaoh; rather, he simply goes on with his life…and two more years go by. Honestly, God’s timing can be a challenge for our faith!
Have you ever felt overlooked or mistreated by ungrateful people? It is right to extend kindness, because God is still working for your highest and best. We will soon see God has not forgotten Joseph and He has a way of bringing things into a perfect connection in time. If you are waiting for God to bring some things together in your life, please trust God’s timing. Blessings for your day as you walk in kindness…