ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bible: What Does Genesis 41-42 Teach Us About Joseph and His Gift?

Updated on October 18, 2016

The Chief Butler Remembers Joseph


Another Dream Interpreter

view quiz statistics

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dreams

Two years later, Pharaoh himself has two dreams in which he pictures the following items:

(1) seven ugly, gaunt cows consuming seven fine-looking, fat cows by the River (vv. 1-4), and (2) seven thin heads of grain devouring seven plump and full heads (vv. 5-7).

Troubled in spirit the next morning, he seeks an interpretation from his magicians and wise men, yet they have no answers (v. 8; cf. Daniel 2, 4).

Suddenly, the chief butler remembers the prisoner Joseph and his ability to interpret dreams, and he becomes guilt-stricken (v. 9).

He recounts to Pharaoh how Joseph had flawlessly interpreted his dream and that of the chief baker (vv. 10-13).

The king quickly releases Joseph from his cell, and the latter appears before Pharaoh shaved, shorn, and properly attired (v. 14).

After learning from Joseph that God, not he, is the One who reveals answers, Pharaoh relates his dreams as before, yet he also adds a few more comments (vv. 15-24).

Immediately, Joseph gives Pharaoh a detailed interpretation of his dream(s), combining the two into one (vv. 25-26).

A famine of seven years (represented by the seven gaunt cows and seven withered ears of grain) will completely consume all the surpluses of seven good harvests (the seven fat cows and seven good ears of grain) [vv. 27-31].

Joseph also tells him that these years were near, not in the distant future (v. 32), and that he should appoint some wise leader to administer the good years to insure the nations’ survival (vv. 33-36).

The Overseer Joseph


Pharaoh Makes Joseph Overseer of Egypt

Judging Joseph’s advice as sound, Pharaoh wisely selects him as this administrator, because the latter is “a man in whom is the Spirit of God” (vv. 37-40; cf. Dan. 4:8).

Joseph, now overseer of all Egypt, is second in command to Pharaoh; however, he does not yet possess regal authority.

The king grants him all the privileges of rank and power over all the people (vv. 41-44), and even gives him a new name and a new wife (v. 45).

Thirty year-old Joseph travels throughout Egypt, and directs the nation to gather and store an abundance of grain during the years of plenty (vv. 46-49).

Before the famine comes, Joseph begets two sons: Manasseh (“Making Forgetful”) and Ephraim (“Fruitfulness”) [vv. 50-52].

[Manasseh made Joseph forget all his toil and his father’s house, while Ephraim reminded him of how God had made him fruitful in Egypt].

As predicted, the famine comes and spreads throughout the whole Middle East; Egypt, however, has food and becomes the "breadbasket" of all nations (vv. 53-57).

Comment: Through his faithful instrument, Joseph, God saves multitudes from starvation. This episode provides clear evidence of God's common grace upon all humanity.

Joseph Remembers

view quiz statistics

Joseph Sends His Brothers Home To Retrieve Benjamin

Genesis 42

Hearing that Egypt has grain, Jacob sends all of his remaining sons (except Benjamin) to buy some for their families (vv. 1-5).

[Two observations:

(1) What does Jacob mean when he asks his sons, “Why do you look at one another?” Maybe their look means, “Things are hopeless; we’re all going to die!”

(2) Jacob does not trust his sons to keep Benjamin safe (v. 4)].

The LORD fulfills Joseph’s original dream when his brothers bow down to him, the new Egyptian governor and administrator of the grain (v. 6; cf. 37:10).

Recognizing them, Joseph harshly demands that they tell him their land of origin; not recognizing him, they answer obediently and relate to him the purpose of their coming (vv. 7-8).

To pump them for information, Joseph accuses them of spying out the land.

They quickly deny the charge, reiterate their true purpose, and offer a short accounting of their family genealogy (vv. 9-13).

Wishing to test them further, Joseph feigns disbelief of their words (v. 14).

He imprisons them for three days (v. 17), instructing them to choose one brother to stay in prison while the rest return to Canaan and bring back Benjamin (vv. 15-16).

[Joseph “remembered the dreams” (v. 9; 37:5-9); therefore, he devises a plan to bring his family down to Egypt--a plan that included sending one brother back to retrieve Benjamin (vv. 15-16)].

Return of Payment


Joseph Returns His Brothers' Payment

On the third day, Joseph reissues the order for one brother to stay behind, while the others retrieve Benjamin to prove that they are not liars (vv. 18-20).

Now the brothers fully feel the pangs of remorse over their treatment of Joseph, believing that they are now paying for their misdeed (v. 21); Reuben self-righteously (?) chimes in with an “I told you so” (v. 22).

Joseph hears their conversation and weeps secretly (v. 24a); nevertheless, he follows through with his strategy, binding Simeon right in front of his brothers (v. 24b).

Joseph graciously gives his brothers all they needed to survive the famine, and he also secretly returns their money to their sacks (v. 25).

This latter gesture, however, negatively affects them, because they think that Joseph will now accuse them of theft as well as of spying (vv. 26-28).

[It is interesting how they now blame God for allowing this calamity to happen to them, as if His causing them to be accused of spying were not enough].

When the sons return to Jacob in Canaan, they recount to him all of the events of their journey (v. 29): the accusation of spying (v. 30), their defense (vv. 31-32), and the lord’s order to imprison one brother and to bring the youngest back (vv. 33-34).

Then they discover that someone had returned their entire payment to them, making them doubly terrified (v. 35).

Beside himself with grief, Jacob laments his losses (v. 36) and refuses to allow Reuben to take Benjamin to Egypt, despite the eldest son's “sacrificial” vow (vv. 37-38).

[Jacob does not even bother to hide his favoritism toward Joseph and Benjamin: the sons of his only true wife].

© 2013 glynch1


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • glynch1 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      If we would bring honor to God, we must have godly motives when "doing the best" we can "in all circumstances."

    • David Carl profile image

      David Carl 

      4 years ago from New York

      Joseph is an example of how doing the best you can in all circumstances honor s God and fulfills God's purpose for your life.

    • glynch1 profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago

      Yes. Joseph had a healthy appreciation of the sovereignty of God. Thank you for your encouraging words.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      4 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Hi glynch1,

      Joseph is one of my favorite Bible characters. So many lessons to learn from him. Thank you for a masterful explanation of this part of the story. Happy New Year!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)