Pharaoh’s Dream


The Occasion

Having been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph is sitting in prison in Egypt because of false charges leveled at him by his former master’s wife. Now the Pharaoh has had a very disturbing dream that no one can interpret. Pharaoh’s butler tells him about Joseph who correctly interpreted a dream for him when he was in prison two years previously. Pharaoh calls for Joseph to interpret his dream.

The Dream

“Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river. Suddenly there came up out of the river seven cows, fine looking and fat; and they fed in the meadow. Then behold, seven other cows came up after them out of the river, ugly and gaunt, and stood by the other cows on the bank of the river. And the ugly and gaunt cows ate up the seven fine looking and fat cows. So Pharaoh awoke. He slept and dreamed a second time; and suddenly seven heads of grain came up on one stalk, plump and good. Then behold, seven thin heads, blighted by the east wind, sprang up after them. And the seven thin heads devoured the seven plump and full heads. So Pharaoh awoke, and indeed, it was a dream.” (Genesis 41:1-7)

The Interpretation

Joseph instantly understands the interpretation of the dream. “The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads are seven years; the dreams are one. And the seven thin and ugly cows which came up after them are seven years, and the seven empty heads blighted by the east wind are seven years of famine. This is the thing which I have spoken to Pharaoh. God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do. Indeed seven years of great plenty will come throughout all the land of Egypt; but after them seven years of famine will arise, and all the plenty will be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine will deplete the land. So the plenty will not be known in the land because of the famine following, for it will be very severe. And the dream was repeated to Pharaoh twice because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Genesis 41:26-32)

The Lesson

As we read the interpretation it seems self evident, doesn’t it? Of course the seven cows represent seven years etc. But remember: it now seems self evident because we know the rest of the story and because it was actually God who gave the interpretation to Joseph. Others tried and were unable to interpret the dream for Pharaoh.

Our lesson is to take our dreams to God and ask him to interpret them rather than endlessly speculate. Also notice how God repeated the dream to Pharaoh to emphasize that it was a coming event set in stone – not something that could be averted.

After Joseph was given the meaning of the dream he was also given the solution: Pharaoh was advised to store up supplies during the time of plenty to be used later during the seven years of famine. This wisdom earned Joseph the position of authority in Egypt comparable to Prime Minister or Secretary of State in today’s government.

So, in addition to understanding our dreams, we should pray for the wisdom to apply them correctly in a way that brings blessings to those affected by the prophetic dream.

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