1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

Joseph was thirty at this time (v. 46), and therefore about twenty eight when the cupbearer was released from prison. If he was seventeen when sold into slavery (Ch. 37:2), he would have "wasted" (as some might imagine) some thirteen years in captivity.

In fact, all that he suffered was essential to the purpose of Yahweh in him. Not only did it develop in him a character that fitted him for eternity in the Kingdom of God, but his very experiences were designed to save lives - Gen. 50: 20.

The Christadelphian Expositor

Both dreams (v1-8) were of an agricultural character, reminding us of that primary industry, whether livestock or grain (wheat), are blessings of God, dependent on rain and sun for growth, and in the case Egypt, on the Nile whose sources are in Africa, south of Sudan and in Ethiopia.

If these waters fail then the Nile no longer fertilises the crops or pasture, and drought and famine set in (Zech. 14.l7-19).

In Israel this was dependent on the former and latter rains (Joel 2), and the blessings of God on the land were marked by the 3 annual feasts of passsover, Pentecost and Tabernacles (Lev 23), really harvest festivals of thanksgiving and praise to Yahweh (Pslm.65. 9-13).

The harvests were seen as evidence of Yahweh's blessings (Deut, 8.7-10, Amos 9.13-15). In the pioneer patriarchal times of Joseph, this was still future.

Bro Richard Lister


2 And, behold, there came up out of the river [Nile] 7 well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

3 And, behold, 7 other kine came up after them out of the river [Nile], ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

The Nile - the vision concerns Egypt

4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the 7 well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, 7 ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

6 And, behold, 7 thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

7 And the 7 thin ears devoured the 7 rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:

10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house, both me and the chief baker:

11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.

12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.

13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: Elohim shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

Deferrence to rulers

So long as God permits the kings of the alien to reign,‭ ‬it is our duty to defer to them,‭ ‬as did Joseph‭ (‬Gen.‭ xli. ‬14‭-‬16‭) ‬and Daniel‭ (ii. ‬37‭)‬,‭ ‬and even as did Paul,‭ ‬saying‭ "‬Most noble Festus‭" (‬Acts‭ ‬xxvi. 25‭)‬,‭ ‬and who commanded to give‭ "‬honour to whom honour is due‭" (‬Rom‭ xiii. ‬7‭) ‬remembering that while they possess authority‭ "‬they are God's ministers,‭ ‬attending continually on this very thing‭" (‬verse‭ ‬6‭)‬.‭

‭The Christadelphian, July 1887

17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:

18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:

19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:

20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:

21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.

22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:

23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:

24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.

25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: Elohim hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do.

26 The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.

27 And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine.

28 This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What Elohim is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh.

29 Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt:

30 And there shall arise after them 7 years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land;

So it will be with Christ, not only will his glory outshine all previous potentates, but he will be the arbiter of life and death. He will decide who survives and their necessities of life supplied. The Joseph story indicates that universal famine will grip the earth. Supermarkets will be empty, and there will be a desperate struggle for survival (Dan.12.1 ).*

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1: 19-21)

31 And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous.

32 And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by Elohim, and Elohim will shortly bring it to pass.

33 Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt.

So doeth the wise man spiritually, he stores up the precious seed of the Word in his heart and mind against the day of need and want, for his or her survival in times of crisis and tribulation.

He thus becomes a never ending supply of spiritual sustenance to the company he has to feed. In Joseph's case the future was clearly revealed, but in ours the hour is "Today" (Pslm. 95.7, Pslm.112. 4,9).

Bro Richard Lister


34 Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years.

35 And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities.

36 And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine.

37 And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants.

38 And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of Elohim is?

39 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as Elohim hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:

No earthly parent directed Joseph's steps; an exile from his own mother's children, yet the same eternal Father watched over both type and antitype. Each was condemned for sins not their own.

Joseph's own wisdom derived from His heavenly Father, gave him hope in his dungeon, even the revelation of something hid.

The Eternal Father's set time having arrived, we read that Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh to reveal a secret, or unfold a mystery, which none but the stone or shepherd of Israel could do, for it revealed to the people "The way of life."

The Christadelphian, Jan 1872

40 Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou.

The blackness of midnight gives way to a sudden burst of noonday splendour which abides with him through a long and illustrious day. God delivers him from all adversity, and, as he expressed it,

 "made him forget his toil and his father's house." 

From a prison keeper's servant, he is transformed into a governor of Egypt - the king's minister: an object of universal deference, and controller of the land's pouring treasure. It was God's work in providence. God's hand was visible at one or two points; but in the main, it was accomplished in an unseen manner by means of perfectly natural circumstances.,.

...THE conclusion is comforting to those who commit their way to God. It may seem to them that God is not only not working with them, but actually working against them. 

Let them remember the agony of Joseph in the pit, in slavery, in false imprisonment, and learn that the darkest paths of their life may be the ways appointed for them to reach liberty and life, wealth and honour -- yea, a throne in the kingdom of the anti-typical Joseph, who himself had to tread the dark and tearful valley of humiliation, and who, in the day of his glory, will introduce all his brethren, amongst many bright stars, to the most interesting of Jacob's sons.

The Ways of Providence Ch 8.

41 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.

Joseph had now been exalted to this highest position, as will Christ on his return Pslm.72, Is.9.6-7. There will be none higher than Christ except Yahweh, as there was none higher than Joseph except Pharaoh. People therefore had come to Joseph to survive as he alone controlled the supply of grain.

Bro Richard Lister


42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

Fine linen and precious gold were his garments for glory, and for beauty. The King took from his own finger a ring and placed it on Joseph's, thus uniting them in power and dominion. Even Joseph's wife was chosen by the King, and from the order of priesthood did she come. And according to Joseph's word was all Egypt ruled, only in the throne was the King the greatest.

The second chariot was something Joseph derived from the King, (representing the chariot wheels of "the eternal one") which when Joseph filled, made the nations go before with a cry, "bow the knee."

Joseph's dream embodied his own household or the twelve tribes, while that of Pharaoh's gathered in all the nations, both Jew and Gentile. Israel coming from Canaan into Egypt represents when the antitype governs the nations. Israel must be saved upon the same principles as the Israel of God are now, for we perceive it was faith in the governor of Egypt which kept them, as well as the nations from perishing.

To Israel, the staff of life was a free gift, for their money was returned to them, but the nations were made the king's bondmen, and an entire sacrifice on their part had to be made.

Also amidst the national troubles, Israel was fed, and was the special care both of the king and governor, and dwelt secure in the land of Goshen as Yahweh's remnant in the land of the Gentiles.

When Joseph's dream was fully developed, we see the exile son and father again united.

The Christadelphian, Jan 1872

42 And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck;

44 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.

45 And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

Scripture Names Doctrinally Applicable to Christ

 Zaphnath-Paaneah, Saviour of the Age.

"God, in the age to come, will shew the exceeding riches of his grace, in his kindness towards us, through Christ Jesus."—(Eph. 2:7.)

The Christadelphian, June 1873

46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

47 And in the 7 plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

48 And he gathered up all the food of the 7 years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For Elohim, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.

52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For Elohim hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

53 And the 7 years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

54 And the 7 years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.