|Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s Dreams|
ESV–Throughout this chapter, Joseph acknowledges God as the source of his special gifting.
1 When two full years had passed,
Two full years, languishing in prison. Two full years, alone with God! God waits until everything is just right inside Joseph.
In solitude, in silence, in sensory deprivation, he was shaping and completing Joseph, and making him a man who could be trusted with power, and with the destiny of his people.
Desert times are apprenticeship times. May we never forget it.
The voice of God sounds most clearly in the desert.
Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
All spiritual gifts are given by God, and used rightly they have a role in the destiny he has intended for us.
He has learnt the peace of complete reliance on God. He now has the certainty that God will carry him through.
An aside: The destinies of men and nations shift. Times of great abundance can be followed by times of famine. Though I find saving really boring, and always think of the fool who built bigger barns when I think of saving, some provision for a time of “famine,” which is not an unlikely possibility in the lives of men, economic cycles and nations is but prudent.
NIV Repetition of a divine revelation was often used for emphasis.
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
Pharaoh is deeply impressed by Joseph’s detailed instructions. He immediately recognized Joseph’s god-given administrative ability, and promotes him.
Joseph had found a friend in prison–the Spirit of God.
ESV note–The early readers of Genesis would have understood Joseph’s divine empowerment as being consistent with what they recognized as a recurring feature within Israelite religion. On various occasions, God empowered people for special service by giving them his spirit.
So Pharaoh gets his savings plan implemented without troubling his pretty head about it.
Joseph took a risk, went out on a limb and cared for the baker and cupbearer. His reward is this exaltation.
Joseph in Charge of Egypt
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.
God can make us fruitful in the land of our suffering, in the land of our periods of greatest loneliness and sense of uselessness, of life passing us by. They are an apprenticeship with Christ, if we but let them be.
ESV note–The names of the boys suggest that Joseph has not entirely forgotten the past. Manasseh means “making to forget” while Ephraim means “twice fruitful,” recalling the recurring theme of being fruitful.
53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”