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Genesis  ◦   Chapter 41

1Two full years later, Pharaoh had a disturbing dream: He was standing on the bank of the Nile, 2when seven fat and healthy cows came out of the river and started grazing on the grass. 3Then seven more cows that were sickly and thin came out of the Nile and walked up to the healthy cows already on the riverbank. 4Then the sickly, thin cows ate all seven of the fat, healthy cows. And then Pharaoh woke up.

5He fell back asleep and had a second disturbing dream. This time, he saw seven heads of grain that were full, ripe and healthy, growing from a single stalk. 6Then seven other heads of grain sprouted up, but these were withered and thin, burnt by the hot east wind. 7The withered heads of grain ate all the healthy, full heads, consuming them completely. Pharaoh awoke with a start, and then realized it was only a dream.

8But the dreams troubled Pharaoh, and the next morning he sent for all the wise men and magicians of Egypt. He told them his dreams, but there was no one who could tell him what they meant.

9Then the royal cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “These events have reminded me of something I have failed to tell you – something I should have done long ago. 10Once, Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the royal baker in the prison house of Potiphar, the captain of the guard. 11While there, each of us had a troubling dream on the same night, and each dream had its own specific meaning. 12In the prison with us was a young Hebrew, a servant of Potiphar. We told our dreams to him and he interpreted them, giving each dream a clear interpretation of its own. 13And events turned out exactly as he said they would for each of us: I was restored to my position, and the royal baker was executed.

14Hopeful, Pharaoh sent for Joseph. He was quickly taken from the prison, bathed, shaved and given a clean set of clothing, and then he was brought before Pharaoh.

15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a disturbing dream that none of my wise men can interpret. But I have been told that you are able to accurately interpret the meaning of dreams.”

16Joseph humbly replied, “I do not possess the ability to discern dreams, but my God can give Pharaoh the answers he desires.”

17So Pharaoh told Joseph: “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when seven fat and healthy cows came out of the river and started grazing on the grass. 19Then, after them, seven more cows that were sickly and thin came out of the Nile. I had never seen such sick and ugly cows in all of Egypt. 20The sick, ugly cows ate all seven of the fat, healthy cows that came up first. 21But even after they ate them, no one could tell, because they remained just as thin, sick and ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “I had a second dream, and this time I saw seven heads of grain that were full, ripe and healthy, growing from a single stalk. 23Then seven other heads of grain sprouted up, but these were withered and thin, and burnt by the hot east wind. 24The withered heads of grain ate all the healthy, full heads, consuming them completely. I told all of this to the magicians and wise men, but none of them can explain to me what it means.”

25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both of Pharaoh’s dreams mean the very same thing. God has revealed to Pharaoh what is about to happen: 26The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain both represent seven years of bounty; both dreams represent the same time period. 27The seven sick, ugly cows and the seven withered heads of grain that came up afterward, both represent the seven subsequent years, which will be seven years of famine.

28“It will be just as I have told Pharaoh, for God has shown Pharaoh what is about to happen: 29The next seven years will be years of great abundance, with bountiful harvests throughout all of Egypt; 30but seven years of severe famine will immediately follow. The famine will be so devastating throughout the land that all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten. 31The famine will be so severe that even the memory of the bountiful years will be erased. 32The reason God has given Pharaoh the dream in two forms is because the events are certain to occur and to transpire very soon, and God has warned Pharaoh so that he may prepare Egypt to save people.

33“So let Pharaoh search for a wise and discerning man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh appoint regional agents throughout the land to collect one fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35They should gather all this food during the good years that are coming and store it under Pharaoh’s authority in the cities, for future use. 36This food should be held under guard as a reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that is coming upon Egypt, so that the country will not be destroyed by the famine.”

37Pharaoh and all his officials thought that Joseph’s plan was wise. 38So Pharaoh asked his counselors, “Can we find anyone as qualified as Joseph; someone with such wisdom, and upon whom the spirit of God is present?”

39Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God is with you and has revealed all of this to you, it is obvious that there is no one with more discernment or wisdom than you. 40So you shall be my governor in charge of Egypt, my house, and all my people – all are to submit to your orders. Only I, Pharaoh, will have greater authority in Egypt than you.”

41So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby appoint you my governor and place you in charge over the entire land of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh removed his ring with the royal seal from his own finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in fine clothes, appropriate to his station, and put a gold chain around his neck, designating his office. 43He had Joseph ride in the chariot of his second-in-command, and had heralds shout before him, “Pay homage to Pharaoh’s governor!” Thus Joseph was put in charge of the entire land of Egypt.

44Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, and I decree that no one in the land of Egypt shall act – not even to lift their hand or foot – without your permission.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath-Paneah; Pharaoh also gave Joseph Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph oversaw the entire land of Egypt.

46Joseph was thirty years old when he was appointed governor by Pharaoh, king of Egypt. After being appointed governor, Joseph travelled throughout Egypt, inspecting the land. 47During the seven years of abundance, the land produced bountiful harvests. 48Joseph collected from the abundant harvests in Egypt all the food designated as a reserve and stored it in the cities. In each city he stored the grain grown in the fields of that region. 49Joseph stored such huge quantities of grain that he stopped keeping records, because it was beyond counting; it was like the sand of the sea.

50During the good years before the famine came, Joseph had two sons by his wife Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51When his firstborn son was born, Joseph said, “Because God has made me forget my trouble and my longing for my father’s home, I will name my son Manasseh.” 52His second son he named Ephraim, saying, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54and seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. The famine struck all the surrounding lands as well, but throughout the land of Egypt, there was food. 55When all of Egypt began to suffer under the effects of the famine, the people cried out to Pharaoh for food. And Pharaoh told the people of Egypt, “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you.”

56As the famine spread throughout the entire region, Joseph opened the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe in Egypt. 57And all the surrounding countries came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.