Genesis 40 – Joseph Interprets Two Prisoners’ Dreams

Joseph has already been in prison for a long enough time to have earned great confidence from his keeper,  and now he is joined by Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and baker (roles important to any Pharaoh, should he not wish to be poisoned), who are imprisoned for an unnamed “offense against their lord of Egypt.”  These men would be accustomed to a better lifestyle and to having access to the magicians and “wise men” in Pharaoh’s court.  It would seem that the Lord has inspired them to be very curious about the dreams they have had; and the scripture tells us that these dreams did in fact each have its own interpretation (verse 5).

But now they have nobody to turn to in order to try to find out what these dreams mean.  Joseph, seeing their distress, persuades them to tell him about the dreams.  After hearing each one, he says “This is its interpretation” – as someone speaking with authority,  as indeed he was.  In verses 20-22 both prophecies are fulfilled, proving him correct (unfortunate for the baker).

But the cupbearer does not honor Joseph’s request to “remember” him to Pharaoh, and Joseph remains in prison.  But note his confidence that he can interpret those dreams, and the knowledge of where that gift comes from (verse 8).  After all he has endured – and still in prison, he clearly knows that God is helping him.

When circumstances in life are such that our own outlook seems dim, do we tend to wonder why the Lord has turned His back on us?  If we do our very best to serve Him, we can sometimes examine some of those times and see for ourselves how He has enriched us – or someone else through us.

In those situations, I have often found great comfort in the book of James, and am fond of the New American Standard version’s translation of James 1:2-4 ” Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Schedules” page of my website at  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.


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