The Journey of Joseph: Dreams in an Egyptian Prison.

And one night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own interpretation. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” And Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.” (Genesis 40:5–8 (ESV)

The story of Joseph’s journey involved a series of personal dreams (Gen. 37:5-11). It is ironic that while he languished in an Egyptian prison for some time, another series of dreams would occur. These dreams did not belong to Joseph, but rather to Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and chief baker (Gen.40:1-4). They both were bound and fettered like Joseph (Gen.39:20; 40:3-5). They too had dreams like Joseph.  

Today’s text says that both of Pharaoh’s servants had a dream on the same night. The text continues to say that each man dreamt his own dream. Additionally, each dream had its own interpretation or meaning.

When Joseph approached them the next morning to attend to their needs (Gen. 40:4), he noticed that they both were troubled. Why, he did not know. The word troubled means to be dejected and discouraged. Their faces reflected their anguish.

. When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. So he asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why are your faces downcast today?” The word downcast means to be sad or depressed.

They said to him, “We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.” They were not only depressed by their dreams, but also because there was no one they knew who could interpret their dreams.

“And Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me’.”

Dr. John Walvoord explains, “Joseph noticed their sadness and agreed to interpret their dreams. He understood their dreams to be from God and realized that God was beginning to work His will through two more dreams.”

Dr. R. C. Sproul states, “In prison, these officials do not have access to professional interpreters, and so they are troubled with uncertainty (v. 6). Their attendant Joseph quickly notices their worry and learns what is behind their troubles (vv. 7–8a). His reply reveals the strength of his faith and his spiritual maturity. He has spent years waiting for his lot to improve, but Joseph still believes God is with him and will give him the meanings of the dreams. Thus, he confidently asks to hear them. Also, Joseph explicitly declares that the interpretation of dreams comes by the Lord’s inspiration (v. 8b). In his younger years, Joseph proudly paraded his interpretive abilities (37:5–11). Having been humbled in prison, Joseph now affirms his talent is a gift from on high.

Even while suffering in prison, Joseph’s empathy for the cupbearer and baker prompted him to inquire about their depressed emotional state (40:6–7). The LORD expects such compassion of His people (Col. 3:12). Even Jesus came to empathize with us in our weaknesses (Heb. 2:18; 4:14–16). We must do so for others.  

Soli deo Gloria!     

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