Notes: Genesis 40-41

Joseph’s brothers called him the “dreamer”. Today we find that God gifts him with the ability to interpret the dreams of others, too.


Genesis 40


I. Two dreams and the dreamer (1-8)

1-4: Two of Pharaoh’s chief servants are put into the same prison where Joseph was.

5-6: Each of them has a dream which he believes to be prophetic, but which he doesn’t understand; and both are saddened.

7-8: Joseph asks why the men are sad; and points out that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God.


II. The Butler’s dream told and explained (9-15)

He is to be released from prison and return to work.


III. The Baker’s dream told and explained (16-19)

He is to be executed


IV. Pharaoh’s birthday and the dreams fulfilled (20-23)

But the Butler does not remember Joseph.


Meditation Points:

  1. Dreams.  Are they all significant? Is God the only one who can interpret dreams? Are dreams the highest form of revelation? Does God speak to men in dreams today? Would God speak in a dream and contradict what He has said elsewhere or at other times?
  2. The future. Does God merely foresee the future, or does He control it and guarantee it?
  3. Ingratitude. Joseph didn’t ask much of the Butler, and he received nothing.
  4. God’s timing. Perhaps it was best that the Butler forgot Joseph at that time and remembered him later when Pharaoh actually needed Joseph.


Genesis 41

I. Pharaoh’s dream (1-8)

Like Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel’s day, Pharaoh tries unsuccessfully to have his staff interpret his dream.


II. The Butler remembers (9-13)

We don’t know how much time has passed since the Butler’s imprisonment; but Pharaoh’s dream triggers the Butler’s memory and he realizes his failure to remember Joseph.


III. Joseph summoned to court (14-16)

Of course he cleans up and changes clothes before appearing before the King and disavows any personal ability to interpret dreams.  Instead, He gives God the glory.


IV. Pharaoh relates two dreams (17-24)

Big cows eaten by sickly cows; big ears of grain being eaten by thin ones.


V. Pharaoh’s dreams explained (25-36)

The two dreams, which have the same meaning, emphasize the certainty of their fulfillment.

There will be 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of famine.

Pharaoh has been warned by God; and action must be taken.


VI. Joseph is appointed to guide Egypt through the next 14 years (37-46)

Pharaoh acknowledges that the Spirit of God is in Joseph

Joseph becomes the #2 man in the land with authority over all things.

He marries the daughter of a priest of On.

Joseph is 30 years old at the time. (Math question: Joseph is 30 years old now, and he was 17 years old when he was sold by his brothers; how many years was Joseph in Egypt before his promotion?)


VII. The time of plenty comes (47-53)

Joseph manages the affairs of state well.

Joseph has two sons.


VIII. The time of famine arrives (54-57)

Joseph is in charge of rationing.

Egypt provides food to neighboring countries.


Meditation Points:

  1. People often disappoint us.
  2. We must not fret when they do, for God is in control.
  3. Sometimes believers are promoted because others recognize the Spirit of God in them.
  4. Believers should be able to help others through hard times.