Two whole years later Pharaoh had his own dream. He dreamed he was standing by the great Nile River when unexpectedly up from the water there came seven beautiful fat cows and began to feed in the meadow. Pharaoh sighed contentedly. A fine dream indeed to sooth his royal slumber.
Ah, but wait! What is this coming up from the river now? Seven more cows? Only these cows were gaunt and ugly. Ugh! Pharaoh groaned and tried to shake the dream off; but before he could, the seven horrid scrawny cows ate up the seven fine-looking hefty cows. Horrors!
Pharaoh finely succeeded in waking his royal body up. He sat up in his bed and puzzled over the disturbing dream for a while, but drowsiness overtook him before long and he slept again.
Then suddenly into his slumber sprang seven fat juicy ears of corn on one stock. Quickly in their wake seven more appeared, but they were thin and blasted by the east wind. And what was this? They were devouring the healthy corn! The whole thing was so real he didn’t know he was dreaming at first. He thought, this is what the dream meant, but then he woke up and realized they were both dreams. Pharaoh was depressed.
What kinds of dreams were these anyway, to disturb his royal sleep? Therefore, he called all of the wise men and magicians of Egypt and told them his dreams.
Meanwhile Joseph had long ago stopped hoping the chief butler would be able to get him out of prison. At first he occupied some of the long hours by thinking of all the reasons why his release might have been delayed. Of course some time would have been taken up by visits from friends who had been sad about his captivity and rejoiced at his release. Then too, while he was absent from his duties things would have gone wrong that needed righting. And he would, of course, have to wait for the right time to talk to the king about joseph’s release. Then it came to him that maybe Pharaoh wouldn’t be disposed to grant a request to the chief butler so recently returned from confinement.
Heartsick and disappointed, Joseph turned to Yahweh; and slowly he began to realize that if was Yahweh’s will for him to be out of prison, he wouldn’t need any help from the chief butler. So he returned to doing whatever his hand found to do with all his might because his god was his boss and he was working for him. Man had failed him again, but Yahweh cannot fail and he could not fail Joseph. Hence, Joseph waited on the Lord and renewed his strength – he soared on the power of Yahweh – he rested himself on his God’s promises. Though it seemed at times he was running from one arduous task to another all day, he wasn’t weary because he did it in Yahweh’s strength. He relaxed and let his God work through him and Yahweh’s love flow through him.
It was in this same strength that he walked from one day to the next in the seemingly endless time of his prison life. But because of that strength he didn’t faint; for the everlasting god, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth doesn’t become weary or tired.
And back at the palace, all the Egyptian magicians and wise men were no help. It was obvious to even the dullest mind that two such similar dreams full of bad omen were extremely important. There was much speculation and confusion. Many made apparent guesses and angered Pharaoh which only caused more panic. It wasn’t that all Egyptian wise men and magicians were exceedingly stupid, but Joseph’s God was at work in the courts of Pharaoh. And he, would could soften the heart of a cold hard prison keeper and put favor in it for Joseph, could also render the minds of the diviners dull to make the opportunity for Joseph.
And it was Yahweh who put the chief butler’s mind back in working order so he could tell Pharaoh of his own experience with a dream in the prison.
It sounded good to Pharaoh. He sent for Joseph immediately.
The royal minions lost no time in summoning Joseph from the dark recesses of his abode. Joseph left the dark eagerly and went into the light. He had to shut his eyes against the brightness at first, but he was living with the power of Yahweh in him and didn’t take long to adjust.
Perfect cleanliness and propriety of dress must be attended to before Joseph could go into the presence of Pharaoh. He must be clean shaven as an Egyptian would be. Hebrew men didn’t like to go without their beards, but Joseph was going before Pharaoh as a chattel of the Egyptian government so, out of respect, he would go clean shaven.
It was indeed an awesome thing to go before the great Pharaoh of Egypt, but Joseph wasn’t thinking of that honor. He was thinking of what a great honor Yahweh had given him. He, Joseph, was a son of Israel – a prince with God – and was, in his own right, a prince of the Most High God. He was an heir to the promises: “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse whoever curses you. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” So it was with the countenance of a royal prince that Joseph went before pharaoh. And Pharaoh looket him and thought, Ah, here is a man whose testimony is in his royal bearing that he can be trusted! And Pharaoh felt an instant affinity with him.
“I have been trying to get my dreams interpreted but no one seems to be able to tell me what they mean,” he said, then bluntly added, “I’ve heard you can understand and interpret dreams. Can you?”
“It is not me that comprehends and illuminates dreams.” Joseph said calmly. “My god will give Pharaoh an answer that will bring him peace.”
“Very good,” Pharaoh said. “Then listen to what I dreamed.” Then Pharaoh related the two dreams to Joseph and as he told his story, he watched the grave young man standing deferentially but confidently before him.
Then, in the presence of the breathless throngs, and surrounded by jealous magicians and wise men, the young Hebrew prince interpreted the royal dreams.
The dreams were set, without doubt, in Egypt, with the Nile figuring dominantly. The waters of the Nile were highly esteemed by the natives not only for their peculiarly luscious, refreshing, and nutritive qualities; but for the annual floods that made the soil so rich and fertile.
In fact, the Nile was so enthusiastically regarded that it was the object of idolatrous worship. The cow of Pharaoh’s dream was the well-known buffalo, a species of ox that delighted to stand in the Nile waters for hours cooling off with everything but its head under the water. Horned cattle coming out of the water were an everyday occurrence in Egypt, so Joseph’s audience had no trouble believing Joseph when he told them the sevens of Pharaoh’s dream were emblems of seven years of great plenty through the land of Egypt.
Joseph continued his interpretation with, “God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do.” It was said with humility and respect and there was no arrogance about his manner.
He didn’t say, “My God told me to tell you what he is about to do.” He said, “God has shown you,” and “The thing is established by God and he will shortly bring it to pass.” He left himself and his part in the interpretation out altogether.
But the wise statesman-like policy he recommended was even more impressive. He didn’t offer his own services. He advised the appointment of a discreet and wise man whose specialty it would be to create a new department of public business. Its purpose would be to gather in the resources of Egypt to be stored in readiness for the coming need of which the sevens of lean, ugly, empty, and parched were a picture.
And pharaoh looked at his servants and asked, “Can we find any man like this one? Is there any other man in whom the Spirit of God is?”
Then he turned to Joseph and said, “It is obvious there is no other man as wise and discerning as you are since God has shown you all these things you have told us today. You, and only you, shall be Egypt’s overseer ad rule my people according to your word. Only in regard to my throne will I be greater than you.”
Pharaoh took his signet ring off and put it on joseph. Then he ordered him to be dressed in garments of fine linen from the royal wardrobe and put a gold chain around his neck.
Thirty-three years had passed since the coat of many colors had been violently torn from him and defiled by blood; but Yahweh had not forgotten him. He who was once trampled upon as the off scouring of all things soon found himself riding in the second chariot as Prime Minister of Egypt, second only to the king, with all Egypt commanded to bow before him.
But there saw work to be done and Joseph couldn’t spend all of his time riding around in chariots.