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Genesis 41- first half

Verse 01. And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

Key Phrase: And it came to pass at the end of two full years; It is not a clear case as Aben Ezra observes, from the point these years are to be reckoned. Whether from the time of Joseph's being put into prison, or from the time that the chief butler was taken out of it. The latter seems more probable and better connects this and the preceding chapter: Key Phrase: that Pharaoh dreamed, and, behold, he stood by the river; So it seemed to him in his dream, as if he stood near the river Nile, or some canal or flow of water cut out of that river. Note: I want to remind you of what Joseph stated in Chapter 40 of Genesis that all dreams belong to the interpretation of God and so this particular dream, which is so troubling to Pharaoh is important.

Verse 02. And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

Key Phrase: And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine, and fatfleshed; Seven cows or heifers, sleek, fat, and plump, goodly to look at. As these seemed in the dream, as if they came out of the river, because they were fed with the fruits of the earth, which the overflowing of the river Nile, and its canals, produced. Key Phrase: and they fed in a meadow; Adjoining to the river, where there was good pasture for them. And gives reason of their being in so healthy and good condition.

See Handout on Egypt

Verse 03. And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and lean fleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

Key Phrase: And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured, and lean fleshed; Thin and haggard, their bones stuck out, having scarce any flesh upon them, and made a wretched figure. Very poor state of health. Key Phrase: and stood by the other kine; Two meanings with this. First they looked so much the worse, when compared with those who came first. Second is that one follows the others to the same meadow or area. So that Pharaoh could immediately see the contrast and numbers of them total. Key Phrase: upon the brink of the river; This tells us it is not being overflowed, so that there was no grass to be had, But just upon the bank where these kept for that purpose. The fruitfulness of Egypt was owing to the river Nile. We know as that when or if the Nile overflowed or did not, there was plenty or famine. So both these types of creatures came up out of that.

Verse 04. And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

Key Phrase: And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine; So it seemed in the dream as if this was done. It was very strange and surprising that animals should devour one another. Especially that tame ones, cows or heifers, should eat those of their own species, which was never known to be done. Key Phrase: so Pharaoh awoke; And why wouldn’t he through surprise at the strange sight he had in his dream. Would be horrific and unsettling to anyone.

Verse 05. And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

Key Phrase: And he slept, and dreamed the second time; He fell asleep again quickly and dreamed another dream the same night, very similar to the first in his mind. Key Phrase: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good; Which was very uncommon even in those fruitful countries. See Handout on Egypt. Note: A Dr. Shaw that those of Barbary vied with Egypt for fruitfulness, that it sometimes happens that one stalk of wheat will bear two ears, while each of these ears will as often shoot out into a number of lesser ones, thereby affording a most plentiful increase.

Verse 06. And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

Key Phrase: Blasted with the east wind; In this time period what was east of Egypt? The Sinai Dessert an east wind would dry the moisture out of all plant during such winds.

Verse 07. And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. Note: We again see the poor or worse devouring the good in Pharaoh’s dreams.

Verse 08. 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.

Key Phrase: And it came to pass in the morning, that his spirit was troubled; The thoughts of his dreams were uppermost in his mind. To a point that he was continually thinking of them. The images are now before him awake, as well as when asleep therefore he could not rest without getting knowledge of the meaning of them. Key Phrase: and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof; Who pretended to have great skill in the things of nature, in astrology and other sciences. They pretended to know future events and to interpret dreams among other things. Remember Joseph with the baker and butler wanted these same people to interpret their dreams. Key Phrase: and Pharaoh told them his dream; That is both of his dreams, which the similarity of them, and there being so little interruption between them they are thus represented as one dream. Key Phrase: but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh; They were non-plussed and confused, surprised and confused so much that they are unsure how to react.

Verse 09. Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:

Key Phrase: Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh; When the magicians and wise men could not interpret his dreams, he was in distress of mind on that account. Key Phrase: saying, I do remember my faults this day; These may be faults he had committed against Pharaoh, and were the reason of his being wroth with him, as in Genesis 41:10. These were either real faults, which the king had pardoned, however such as he had been charged with and cleared from. But now in a courtly manner takes them to himself and owns them. Thus the king's goodness and clemency to him might appear as just and grateful. Lest he should seem to charge the king with injustice in casting him into prison. The circumstance in which he could not avoid relating in the story he was about to tell.

Note: Other historians interpret this portion of the verse as he has become aware of his forgetfulness of Joseph and his afflictions. Or reminded of his ingratitude to him and the breach of promise in not making mention of him to Pharaoh before this time.

Verse 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:

Key Phrase: Pharaoh was wroth with his servants; Not with all of them, but with the butler and the baker as we know from Genesis 40. Note: Aben Ezra observes here, that Pharaoh was not the proper name of this king, but a title of office, and signifies the king; for it cannot be thought that the butler would use such freedom in his presence as to call him by his name. The true name of this prince, according to the eastern writers was Rian ben Walid. Some other Historians take him to be Aphophis, the third of the Hycsi, or pastor kings. Key Phrase: and put me in ward in the captain of the guard's house; In consequence of his wrath and displeasure, for crimes really or supposed to be committed by him. The captain of the guard's house was a prison, or at least there was a prison in it for such sort of offenders and this was Potiphar's, Joseph's master's, house. Key Phrase: both me and the chief baker; Stated to explain who the officers were Pharaoh was wroth with and who were for their offences committed to prison.

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

Key Phrase: And we dreamed a dream in one night; This is to give background and also to let Pharaoh understand that it was similar to him in the fact that it was two dreams. Key Phrase: we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream; He is explaining that the dreams were according to their position and title.

Verse 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.

Key Phrase: And there was there with us a young man; Who was in the prison with them and had the care of them and waited upon them. Key Phrase: an Hebrew servant to the captain of the guard; He first describes him by his age, a young man, then by his heritage, an Hebrew and last by his state and condition, a servant.

Note: It would seem neither the captain of the guard or Potipher had not much to recommend him to the king. Neither have had a dream interpretation done for them.

Key Phrase: and we told him; That is, their dreams individually. Key Phrase: and he interpreted to us our dream, to each man according to his dream did he interpret; Joseph told them what their dreams pre-signified. What the events would be and what they represented. The interpretation was different according the status they held as to their dreams.

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

Key Phrase: And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; The event answered to the interpretation and showed it to be right. This is frequently hinted and repeated, to show the exactness and certainty of the interpretation given. This is in order to recommend Joseph to Pharaoh the more. To give it validity. Key Phrase: me he restored unto my office, and him he hanged; That is, Joseph interpreted the butler's dream to such a sense, that he should be restored to his butlership and accordingly he was. The baker's dream, that he should be hanged and so he was.

Verse 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.

Key Phase: Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph; Sent messengers to him to come to him directly. The ordered to the captain of the guard, or keeper of prison, tor release loose him, and let him free. See Psalm 105:20,

Key Phrase: and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon; That is, out of the prison house which is where the butler and baker had been held. Jarchi the historian related that the dungeon was made like a ditch. This was where Joseph was first put when he was brought to prison. We know that he would not have continued there when he had so much respect shown him by the keeper, and had other prisoners committed to his care.

Note: However, he was fetched in great haste from his place of confinement, by the messengers that were sent for him. In other writings it is said "they made him to run" from the prison to the palace, the king being so eager to have his dream interpreted to him. Key Phrase: and he shaved himself; Or the barber shaved him, as Aben Ezra notes in his writings. Joseph’s beard had not been shaved, nor the hair of his head cut very probably for a considerable time; it being usual for persons in such circumstances to neglect such things.

Cultural Note: The Egyptians paid extreme care to matters of cleanliness. They were very generally themselves clean shaven. So Joseph was made presentable before the king.

Key Phrase: and changed his raiment; Joseph’s prison garments being such as were not fit to appear in before a king. So he put on other clothing which either the king sent him, or the captain of the guard his master furnished him with. Key Phrase: and came in unto Pharaoh: Into his palace most likely the courtyard, yet into his Presence. Note: What city it was in which this Pharaoh kept his palace, is not said. Very probably it was which the Scriptures call Zoan, that being the ancient city of Egypt, Numbers 13:22.

Verse 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.

Key Phrase: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph; Immediately, upon his being introduced to him not waiting any time but desiring to resolve this situation. Key Phrase: I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it; Pharaoh that he has not yet met with anyone who could interpret this dream. None of his magicians or wise men, who made great pretensions to skill in such matters. Key Phrase: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it; It had been reported to him, particularly by the chief butler. That when he heard a dream told him, he had such knowledge and understanding, that he could interpret it. Tell the meaning of it, what it represented and what would be the events signified by it.

Note: Can you imagine how stressed the chief butler is right about know?

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

Key Phrase: And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, it is not in me; Which expresses his great faith and modesty. Joseph did not lay claim to such skill and wisdom to himself. He is declaring that he had no such power and abilities in and of himself, to interpret dreams. But what he had was a gift of God, and wholly depended upon Gods influence, and the revelation he was pleased to make to him of such things. Key Phrase: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace; Joseph is saying that God will answer to his request in the interpretation of his dream. Shall give him full content and make his mind quiet and easy. Give Pharaoh understanding and wisdom in it.

Note: Some render the words as a prayer or wish, "may God give Pharaoh", etc.. As if Joseph was addressing God. That he would be pleased to make known to him his interpretation of the dream to the satisfaction of Pharaoh. The other sense seems best, which expresses his faith in God, that he would do it, and to whom it should be ascribed, and not unto himself.

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

Key Phrase: And Pharaoh said unto Joseph; Relating both his dreams in a more ample manner, though to the same purpose, that was before related. Key Phrase: in my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river; Of course this was the river Nile, where he could have a full sight of what was presented to his view.

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

Verse 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:

Key Phrase: And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor; Here some addition is made. These are said not only to be very ill favoured, and leanfleshed; but poor, Thus meaning thin, meagre, exhausted of their flesh and strength through some disease upon them, or want of food. Note: What follows, what was not before expressed. Key Phrase: such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt, for badness; So poor, so lean, and so ill favored. For whatever might be seen in other countries, never were such seen in Egypt, which was famous for good kine (cattle).

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

Verse 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.

Key Phrase: And when they had eaten them up; Or "were come into their bowels", into their inward parts, their bellies, being swallowed and devoured by them. Key Phrase: it could not be known that they had eaten them; When they were in their bellies, they seemed never the fuller nor the fatter for consuming them; Key Phrase: but they were still ill favoured as at the beginning; They looked as thin and as poor and illas they did when they first came out of the river, or were first seen by Pharaoh.

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

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

Key Phrase: And, behold, seven ears withered; Here a new epithet of the bad ears is given and expressed by a word nowhere else used in the texts. Which Ben Melech interprets, small, little, according to the use of the word in the Misnah. Note: Mishnah current spelling meaning; An authoritative collection of exegetical material embodying the oral tradition of Jewish law and forming the first part of the Talmud. Aben Ezra expresses it as void, empty, such as had no grains of corn in them, nothing but husk or chaff, and observes that some render it images. For the word is so used in the Arabic language that it may signify that these ears were only mere shadows or images of ears, which had no substance in them: Jarchi says, the word, in the Syriac language signifies a rock, and so it denotes that these ears were dry as a rock, and had no moisture in them, laid dried, burnt up, and blasted with the east wind.

Verse 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.

Key Phrase: And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears,.... See Genesis 41:7, Key Phrase: and I told this unto the magicians; Just in the same manner as he had to Joseph: Key Phrase: but there was none that could declare it unto me; The meaning of it, what all this should signify or represent.

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

Key Phrase: And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, the dream of Pharaoh is one; Though there were two distinct dreams expressed under different images and representations. The meaning, sense, and signification of them were the same. So one interpretation would do for both. Key Phrase: God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do; That is, according to the above dreams, when they should be interpreted to him;. For as yet, Pharaoh did not understood them. Therefore there could be nothing showed him, but when interpreted it would be clear and plain to him what events were quickly to be accomplished. Note: God only knows things future, and those to whom he is pleased to reveal them, and which he did in different ways, by dreams, visions, articulate voices, &c.

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

Key Phrase: The seven good kine are seven years; Since the number of kine and good ears are both seven they represent or signify seven years, and these years of plenty. Since you would have both if the kine are fat and the ears are indicating more. Key Phrase: the dream is one; Joseph indicates that both of Pharaoh’s dreams are only one.

Verse 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.

Key Phrase: And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; Signify another seven years, and these different from the former. Key Phrase: and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine; Or there will be seven years of famine that will answer to them, and are signified by them.

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

Key Phrase: This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh; As an interpretation of his dreams as he had requested. Key Phrase: what God is about to do, he sheweth unto Pharaoh; The events of fourteen years with respect to plenty and famine. Joseph again claims God is showing him these things.

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

Key Phrase: Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt; Not only a sufficiency but an abundance, even to luxury, as when the Nile rose to sixteen cubits, as Pliny observes. Which, though a natural cause, was owing to God, and that it should thus overflow for seven years successively and cause such a continued plenty which can be ascribed to no other than God. (See handout)

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

Key Phrase: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; Which might be due to the river Nile not rising so high as to overflow its banks. It was noted when it did not rise to more than twelve cubits, a famine ensued, as the above writer says. Key Phrase: and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; The seven years of plenty being all spent, it should be as if it never was. The minds of men would be so intent upon their present distressed case and circumstances, that they should wholly forget how it had been with them in time past. Or you could say it would be as if they had never enjoyed it or were never the better for it. This helps to answers and explain how it was with the ill favored kine, when they had eaten up the fat kine. Why they seemed never the better nor could it be known by their appearance that they had so done. Key Phrase: and the famine shall consume the land: That is the inhabitants of it and all the fruits and increase of it the former years produced. To include the animals as well.

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

Key Phrase: the plenty shall not be known in the land, by reason of that famine following; That is, before it would be over, the otherwise former time of plenty was in some measure known by the stores of provisions laid up in the seven years of it. Which were opened or reopened when the famine became very pressing. By that time, and before the seven years of it were ended, there were no traces of the foregoing plenty to be observed. Key Phrase: for it shall be very grievous; As it was n Egypt and in all the countries round about. Life and death for all within this period.

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

Key Phrase: And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; It was repeated to him under different figures and images so that it was important. Key Phrase: it is because the thing is established by God; By a firm decree of his and is sure and will most certainly be accomplished. So Joseph is telling Pharaoh it will be done as commanded and to assure him of it was the repetition of the dream made. Key Phrase: and God will shortly bring it to pass; That is it would soon begin to accomplish or begin these events. Even now it needs to be noted or recognized and heeded.

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

Key Phrase: Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise; Someone of good judgment and conduct, of abilities equal to the execution and achievement of what is proposed.

HANDOUT

Egypt

Kine [Middle English kyn, from Old English cȳna, genitive pl. of cū, cow; see cow.]

The cow was regarded by the Egyptians as the symbol of the earth, and of agriculture. Naturally both the kine and the ears of wheat rose out of the river, because as no rain falls in Egypt, its fertility entirely depends upon the overflow of the Nile.

The cows sacred to Isis were seven in number, and in a copy of the Ritual of the Dead, Mr. Malan (p. 192) found a picture of the seven sacred cows with the divine bull.

The Nile is the source of the fertility and wealth of Egypt. The cows issuing from the Nile would be a symbol of fertility. The Egyptian goddess Hathor is represented with the head of a cow.

In a meadow. Old English mædwe "low, level tract of land under grass; pasture," originally "land covered in grass which is mown for hay;" The Hebrew meaning {in the marsh-grass}.

The word occurs only in this chapter and in Job 8:11, where it is translated flag. It is the name of the rank herbage which grows luxuriantly along the banks of the Nile; or, as some think, of one special kind of marsh-grass, called by botanists cyperus esculentus.

[Reed-grass] The Heb. word aḥu transliterates the Egyptian aḥu, or iḥi. It is found also in Genesis 41:18; Job 8:11; Hosea 13:15. LXX ἄχει, which occurs also in Isaiah 19:7; Sir 40:16. Jerome, commenting on Isaiah 19:7, explains that the word, derived from a root meaning “ green,” is applied to the Nile reed-grass whose color is vivid green under that bright sky.

Egyptian Food crops (but not what we call corn)

The Egyptians grew a variety of crops for consumption, including grains, vegetables and fruits. However, their diets revolved around several staple crops, especially cereals and barley. Other major grains grown included einkorn wheat and emmer wheat, grown to make bread. Other staples for the majority of the population included beans, lentils, and later chickpeas and fava beans. Root crops, such as onions, garlic and radishes were grown, along with salad crops, such as lettuce and parsley.

Fruits were a common motif of Egyptian artwork, suggesting that their growth was also a major focus of agricultural efforts as the civilization's agricultural technology developed.

Unlike cereals and pulses, fruit required more demanding and complex agricultural techniques, including the use of irrigation systems, cloning, propagation and training. While the first fruits cultivated by the Egyptians were likely indigenous, such as the palm date and sorghum, more fruits were introduced as other cultural influences were introduced.

Grapes and watermelon were found throughout predynastic Egyptian sites, as were the sycamore fig, doum palms and Christ's thorn.

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The carob, olive, apple and pomegranate were introduced to Egyptians during the New Kingdom. Later, during the Greco-Roman period peaches and pears were also introduced.

Pliny the Elder

Gaius Plinius Secundus (AD 23/24–79), called Pliny the Elder (/ˈplɪni/), was a Roman author, a naturalist and natural philosopher, a naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and a friend of emperor Vespasian. He wrote the encyclopedic Naturalis Historia (Natural History), which became an editorial model for encyclopedias. He spent most of his spare time studying, writing, and investigating natural and geographic phenomena in the field.

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