1 And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.
2 And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
3 And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
4 And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
5 And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.
6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.
7 And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?
8 And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to Elohim? tell me them, I pray you.
The second chapter of the Josephine parable begins with Joseph in the house of Potiphar. Being there the victim of a false accusation he was immured in the state-prison. But even here he found favour, as he had in Potiphar's house before; for Joseph was a righteous man, and God was with him.
He had been in prison two full years, when the king of Egypt had his dreams of the kine, and the ears. The report of his correct interpretation of the chief butler's, and the chief baker's, dreams, while in durance, caused him to be brought before Pharoah to interpret his. It was then believed that "interpretations belong to God " (Gen. 40:8); that is, when He causes men to dream prophetically, He reserves the interpretation of them to Himself.
This is illustrated in the case before us, and afterwards in that of Nebuchadnezzar. Pharoah consulted all the magicians and wise men of Egypt, but there was none that could interpret his dreams. But God revealed their interpretation to Joseph, who exhibited to the king a luminous exposition of them as indications of what God was about to do; and offered him such advice in the emergency as convinced Pharaoh that Joseph was "a man in whom the Spirit of God was," and that "none were so discreet and wise as he." "Therefore," said the king, " thou shalt he over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou."
Elpis Israel 2.3.
9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;
10 And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:
11 And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.
12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
Here, doubtless, comes in the extra-natural element which distinguished the case of the fathers from ours of these barren days, namely the endowment in the case of Joseph of special faculty in the discernment of special dreams, but the use of this faculty by Joseph and its relation to the operations of providence were all in a natural way.
Joseph did a neighbourly turn to the two interesting prisoners in his charge, and out of this came his own deliverance-not immediately, however. The train was being laid but nothing was hurried. Joseph made the most of the circumstances to bring about his release to no purpose. When apprising the butler of his coming liberation, he said,
"Think on me when it shall be well with thee, and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house. For indeed, I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here (in Egypt) also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon" (Gen. 40:14-15).
But alas! The butler was like the ordinary run of mortals. When he found himself in prosperity, he was satisfied to enjoy his portion without a thought for the welfare of others.
"Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him" (verse 23).
However, the butler was to be made use of. Joseph's deliverance was not to come through the butler's gratitude, not at once. It was to come after a considerable patience-requiring lapse of time, through the providentially-developed baser desire of the butler to please Pharaoh.
Ways of Providence Ch 8
13 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.
14 But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
15 For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:
17 And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.
18 And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:
19 Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
20 And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
21 And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:
22 But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23 Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.