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Genesis 41 International Standard Version (ISV)

Pharaoh’s Dream

41 Two years later—to the day—Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River,[a] when all of a sudden seven healthy, plump cows emerged from the Nile to graze in the grass that grew in the reeds that lined the bank.[b] Right after that, seven more cows came up out of the Nile. Ugly and gaunt, they stood next to the other cows on the bank of the Nile River. But all of a sudden they ate up the seven healthy, plump cows! Then Pharaoh woke up.

After he had fallen back to sleep, he had a second dream, in which seven ears of plump, fruit-filled grain grew up on a single stalk. Suddenly seven thin ears of grain that had been scorched by an east wind sprouted up right after them and ate up the seven plump, fruit-filled ears. Then Pharaoh woke up a second time,[c] and it had been a very vivid[d] dream!

Pharaoh Seeks an Interpretation

The very next morning, he[e] was frustrated[f] about the dream, so he sent word to summon all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them what he had dreamed, but no one could interpret them.[g]

Then Pharaoh’s senior security advisor[h] spoke up. “Maybe I should make a confession. 10 When Pharaoh was angry with some of his servants, he incarcerated me in custody of the captain of the bodyguard, along with Pharaoh’s head chef.[i] 11 We each had a dream on the same night, and each dream had its own meaning. 12 There was a Hebrew young man incarcerated with us, who was also working as a servant to the captain of the bodyguard.

“We each related our dreams,[j] and then he interpreted them for us. He provided specific meanings for each of our dreams. 13 And what he interpreted for each of us came true! Pharaoh[k] restored me to my responsibilities, but he executed[l] the other man.”

Pharaoh Tells Joseph His Dream

14 Pharaoh sent word to summon Joseph quickly from the dungeon, so they shaved his beard, changed his clothes, and then sent him straight to Pharaoh. 15 “I’ve had a dream,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “but nobody can interpret it. I’ve heard that you can interpret dreams.”

16 “I can’t do that,” Joseph replied, “but God is concerned about Pharaoh’s well-being.”

17 So Pharaoh told Joseph, “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile River, 18 and all of a sudden seven healthy, plump, beautiful cows emerged from the Nile and began to graze among the reeds that line the bank.[m] 19 Just then, seven other cows emerged after them, poor, ugly, and appearing very gaunt in their flesh. I’ve never seen anything as ugly as those cows anywhere in the entire land of Egypt! 20 But those thin, gaunt cows gobbled up the first seven healthy cows! 21 Not only that,” Pharaoh continued,[n] “after they had finished devouring the cows, nobody could tell that they had gobbled them up, because they were just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. 22 Later, I also dreamed about seven plump, fruit-filled ears of grain[o] that grew up out of a single stalk. 23 All of a sudden, seven thin, withered ears of grain,[p] scorched by the east wind, sprouted up after them. 24 But the thin ears gobbled up the seven good ears. I told all this to my advisors, but nobody was able to explain it to me.”

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh’s Dream

25 “Pharaoh’s dreams are identical,” Joseph replied. “God has told Pharaoh what he is getting ready to do. 26 The seven healthy cows represent seven years, as do the seven healthy ears. The dreams are identical. 27 The seven gaunt cows that arose after the healthy cows[q] are seven years, as are the seven gaunt ears scorched by the east wind. There will be seven years of famine. 28 So the message that I have for Pharaoh is that God is telling Pharaoh what he is getting ready to do. 29 Be advised that seven years of phenomenal abundance are coming throughout all the land of Egypt, 30 but after them seven years of famine are ahead, during which all of the abundance will be forgotten throughout the land of Egypt. The famine will ravage the land so severely that[r] 31 there will be no surplus in the land due to the coming famine, because it will be very severe.

32 “Now since Pharaoh had that dream twice, it means that this event has been scheduled by God, and God will bring it to pass very soon. 33 Therefore let Pharaoh select a wise, discerning person to place in charge over the land of Egypt. 34 Also, let Pharaoh immediately proceed to appoint supervisors over the land of Egypt, who will collect one fifth of its agricultural production[s] during the coming seven years of abundance. 35 Let them collect all the food during the coming fruitful years, store up the grain in cities governed by Pharaoh’s authority,[t] and place it under guard. 36 Let the food be kept in reserve to feed[u] the land for the seven years of famine that will occur throughout Egypt, so the people don’t[v] die during the famine.”

Pharaoh Appoints Joseph as Regent

37 What Joseph proposed pleased Pharaoh and all of his advisors, 38 so Pharaoh asked his servants, “Can we find anyone else like this—someone in whom the Spirit of God lives? 39 Since God has revealed all of this to you,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “there is no one so wise and discerning as you. 40 So you are to be appointed in charge over my palace, and all of my people are to do whatever you command them to do. Only the throne will have greater authority than you.”

41 “Look!” Pharaoh confirmed[w] to Joseph, “I’ve put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt!”

42 Then Pharaoh[x] removed his signet ring from his hand, placed it on Joseph’s hand, had him clothed in fine linen garments, and placed a gold chain around his neck. 43 Then he provided him with a chariot as his second-in-command, outfitted with a group of people who shouted out in front of him, “Bow your knees!” And that’s how Pharaoh set Joseph over the entire land of Egypt.

Pharaoh Rewards Joseph

44 Pharaoh also told Joseph, “I’m still Pharaoh, but without your permission nobody in all of the land of Egypt will so much as lift up their hands or take a step!” 45 Pharaoh also changed Joseph’s name to Zaphenath-paneah[y] and gave Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On, to him as his wife. And that’s how Joseph gained authority over the land of Egypt.

Joseph Begins Gathering Grain

46 Joseph was 30 years old when he began to serve Pharaoh, king of Egypt, by traveling throughout the land of Egypt, independent from Pharaoh’s oversight.[z] 47 While bumper crops grew during the seven abundant years, 48 Joseph[aa] collected the surplus food throughout the land of Egypt, storing food in cities; that is, he gathered the food from fields that surrounded every city and stored it there. 49 Joseph stored up so much grain—like sand on the seashore in so much abundance!—that he stopped keeping records because it was proving to be impossible to measure how much they were gathering.

Joseph’s Children are Born

50 Before the years of famine arrived, Joseph fathered two sons with Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn son[ab] Manasseh because, he said, “God has made me forget all of my hard life and my father’s house.” 52 He named his second son Ephraim because, he said, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my troubles.”

The Famine Begins

53 As soon as the seven years of abundance throughout the land of Egypt ended, 54 the seven years of famine started, just as Joseph had predicted.[ac] It was an international famine, but there was food everywhere throughout the land of Egypt. 55 Eventually, the land of Egypt began to feel the effects of the famine, so the people[ad] cried out to Pharaoh for food. “Go see Joseph,” Pharaoh announced to all the Egyptians, “and do whatever he tells you to do.”

56 Joseph opened all of the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, because the famine was beginning to be severe throughout the land of Egypt. 57 In addition, all of the surrounding nations[ae] came to Joseph to buy grain from Egypt, because the famine had become severe throughout the world.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 41:1 The Heb. lacks River, and so throughout the chapter
  2. Genesis 41:2 The Heb. lacks that lined the bank
  3. Genesis 41:7 The Heb. lacks a second time
  4. Genesis 41:7 Lit. and behold, it was a
  5. Genesis 41:8 Lit. morning, his spirit
  6. Genesis 41:8 Or troubled
  7. Genesis 41:8 Lit. interpret the dreams for Pharaoh
  8. Genesis 41:9 Lit. Pharaoh’s cupbearer; a servant who tested the Pharaoh’s food and beverages for poison; cf. Neh 1:11
  9. Genesis 41:10 Lit. baker
  10. Genesis 41:12 The Heb. lacks our dreams
  11. Genesis 41:13 Lit. He
  12. Genesis 41:13 Lit. hanged
  13. Genesis 41:18 The Heb. lacks that lined the bank
  14. Genesis 41:21 The Heb. lacks Pharaoh continued
  15. Genesis 41:22 The Heb. lacks of grain
  16. Genesis 41:23 The Heb. lacks of grain
  17. Genesis 41:27 Lit. after them
  18. Genesis 41:30 The Heb. lacks so severely that
  19. Genesis 41:34 Lit. of the land
  20. Genesis 41:35 Lit. cities in Pharaoh’s hand
  21. Genesis 41:36 Lit. reserve for
  22. Genesis 41:36 Lit. land doesn’t
  23. Genesis 41:41 Lit. said
  24. Genesis 41:42 Lit. he
  25. Genesis 41:45 The Heb. name means the God who speaks and lives
  26. Genesis 41:46 Lit. presence
  27. Genesis 41:48 Lit. he
  28. Genesis 41:51 The Heb. lacks son
  29. Genesis 41:54 Lit. said
  30. Genesis 41:55 Lit. so they
  31. Genesis 41:57 Lit. the world
International Standard Version (ISV)

Copyright © 1995-2014 by ISV Foundation. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED INTERNATIONALLY. Used by permission of Davidson Press, LLC.

Genesis 41 New International Version (NIV)

Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.

In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him.

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.

14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.

15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”

16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”

17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up.

22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.

25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.

28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.

33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”

37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God[a]?”

39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.

Joseph in Charge of Egypt

41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,[b] and people shouted before him, “Make way[c]!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt.

44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,[d] to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt.

46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh[e] and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim[f] and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.”

53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.”

56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.

Footnotes:

  1. Genesis 41:38 Or of the gods
  2. Genesis 41:43 Or in the chariot of his second-in-command; or in his second chariot
  3. Genesis 41:43 Or Bow down
  4. Genesis 41:45 That is, Heliopolis; also in verse 50
  5. Genesis 41:51 Manasseh sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for forget.
  6. Genesis 41:52 Ephraim sounds like the Hebrew for twice fruitful.
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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