Monday, July 30, 2012

XXV - Chapter 41 - Joseph and Pharaoh

Now it's been two years since Joseph interpreted the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker, but up to this point Joseph was unfairly forgotten by the cupbearer.  God now considers Joseph to be ready.  He is a full grown man now and has passed every test, mastering servitude to the fullest.  And most of all, Joseph KNEW that God was in charge of his life and everything else.

Chapter 41 - Pharaoh had a dream:  Seven sleek and fat cows came up from the river Nile, grazing in the meadow.  After them came seven skinny an unhealthy cows up to the fat cows and ate them up.  Pharaoh was awaken by this unpleasant dream, but managed to go back to sleep, at which time he had another dream:  This time there was a corn stalk (KJV) bearing seven fat and healthy ears of corn.  Then beside it came a stalk with seven withered and thin ears.  The withered ears ate the fat ears.  Later it tells that in each dream, the skinny cows and ears did not get bigger after they ate the fat ones.  Vs 8 - Of course a dream like this would trouble Pharaoh, so the next day he called for his magicians and wise men to have them tell him what the dreams mean.  Although I'm sure these men tried to give lame interpetations (they always wanted to please Pharaoh), but Pharaoh was not sold on their false interpretations.  Then in vs 9 the cupbearer surprisingly speaks up and confesses his own shortcoming.  It had dawned on the cupbearer that there was an absolutely perfect interpretor of dreams, a Hebrew that was in prison with him.  He proceeded to give the full account to Pharoah.

By this time Pharaoh was frustrated and desparate.  Pharaoh didn't seem to give much thought as to how much truth there was to the cupbearer's story, so right away he sent for Joseph.  The Scripture makes note that Joseph shaved himself before he was brought before Pharoah.  {In this time in History, it was customary for the Egyptian hierarchy to have shaved heads and faces.}  When Joseph was brought to Pharaoh, (vs 15) Pharaoh told him "I had a dream that noone is able to interpret.  But I've heard you can".  What are the first words out of Joseph's mouth in response to this?  Vs 16 - "I cannot do that, but God will give you the answers HE desires".  Joseph is wise, devout, and humble.  Just right.  I'll bet God feels so refreshed by this fine young man and can't wait to shower more and more blessings upon someone like Joseph who really deserves it.

In vss 17-24 Pharaoh tells both of his dreams to Joseph and shares with him that his magicians could not tell him anything of comfort.  Then in vs 25 Joseph responds to Pharaoh, firstly saying that both dreams mean the same thing.  Then Joseph tells Pharaoh that "God has revealed to Pharoah what He is about to do".  This was the perfect thing for Joseph to say.  That statement put Pharaoh is a special position.  (Joseph repeats this in vs 28)  That makes Pharaoh feel special and already he was growing to like this young Hebrew, and wanted to hear more.  Joseph interprets the dreams:  The seven fat cows and the seven plump ears of corn represent seven prosperous years of harvest for Egypt.  The lean cows and the shriveled ears of corn represent seven years of famine in Egypt, and will ravage the land.  Joseph expounds on the dreams, going on to say that the drought will be so severe that all the people will not even remember the previous years of plenty.  Then in vs 32 he tells Pharaoh that the reason for the two dreams instead of one is that it has been firmly decided by God and He will make it happen soon.

So Joseph has interpreted Pharaoh's dreams in such a way that Pharaoh is convinced.  Joseph adds some statements that suggest a sense of urgency to the situation and Pharaoh is all ears.  Everything Joseph has told Pharaoh makes perfect sense.  Not only is Pharaoh convinced, but all of the officers of his court are amazed at what they have heard this young Hebrew man say.  (In addition to all the obvious traits God has given Joseph, I believe He has also given Joseph a "commanding presence", which meant that all the people in the room would pay much attention to him whether he was speaking or not.  I'm told that Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton both had a "commanding presence" as I've described.  It's a very valuable trait, regardless of one's objectives in life.)  Now Joseph had God-given wisdom.  Read vss 33-36.  This is Joseph talking.  He is giving Pharaoh a plan for these fourteen years to come.  And a perfect plan at that:

1.  Find a discerning and wise man
2.  Put him in charge of the land of Egypt (less than total authority would not work)
3.  Appoint commissioners to take a portion of the harvest during the first seven years
4. Collect the grain in storage and guarded by the Pharoah's military
5. Have storage facilities in every city so in-gathering and distribution could be made efficient
6. Distribute in the next seven years as needed and to the descretion of the man placed in charge

Vs 37 - This plan sounded good to Pharaoh and all the officials.  Pharaoh is convinced that there in a tragedy coming, but is also convinced of the plan that will overt a disaster.   Pharaoh is about to dodge a bullet, thanks to this man of God.  So Pharaoh asked his court if anyone knew of such a man qualified for this undertaking.  Noone stepped forward because it was indeed quite a task.  Then Pharaoh did the smartest thing he ever did in his life:  He commissioned Joseph to be in charge of everything.  Only the Pharaoh himself would hold authority over Joseph.  Vs 41  The WHOLE land of Egypt.  Egypt was a big place.  I think it was then even bigger then, than it is today.  Then Pharaoh made it official by giving Joseph his signet ring, offical clothes to wear, a gold chain for a necklace which indicated position, and had him ride in the chariot that signaled to all Egyptian people that Joseph was second in command.  Amazing.  Read vss 41-44.  Then in vs 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph an Egyptian name, Zaphenath-Paneah (best I could find, this means "sustainer of life").  Pharaoh also gave Asenath as a wife for Joseph.  She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest of On (better known as Heliopolis), which was the center of worship to the sun gods Re and Atum.  This doesn't mean much to us, but in Egypt, Asenath would have been the highest ranking female that would have been available for marriage.  She was hand chosen by Pharaoh for Joseph.  That probably didn't mean much to Joseph, but Pharaoh was doing this to honor Joseph and any objections voiced by Joseph would have been considered an insult.

Vss 46 -->  Joseph was 30 years old when he was placed in this position.  The years of abundance yielded crops so big that Joseph stopped recording where how many bushels went where.  All he knew was that every warehouse was bursting at its seams with grain.

During the seven years of plenty, Joseph and Asenath had two sons.  The oldest was Manasseh (means "forget").  The younger son was named Ephraim ("twice fruitful").

After the seven years, the abundandant crops ended and the famine began, not only in Egypt but all over the populated regions of the world.  But there was plenty of food in Egypt's warehouses.  When the Egyptians started to feel the effects of the famine, they appealed to Pharaoh, who sent them all to Joseph.  Joseph maintained control, as he knew he must make the food last until the good crops returned.

Please read vs 57.  "And the WHOLE WORLD came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe EVERYWHERE."  Nobody got food unless Joseph said they could have it.  Such is the qualification of my earlier statement that Joseph was the most powerful man in the History of civilization.  And he handled that power excellently.  But let's remember:  First, he handled servitude just as excellently.

Next post:  Chapter 42 - Joseph's brothers go to Egypt

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