Genesis 39-42 Contemporary English Version (CEV)
Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife
39 The Ishmaelites took Joseph to Egypt and sold him to Potiphar, the king’s[a] official in charge of the palace guard. 2-3 So Joseph lived in the home of Potiphar, his Egyptian owner.
Soon Potiphar realized that the Lord was helping Joseph to be successful in whatever he did. 4 Potiphar liked Joseph and made him his personal assistant, putting him in charge of his house and all of his property. 5 Because of Joseph, the Lord began to bless Potiphar’s family and fields. 6 Potiphar left everything up to Joseph, and with Joseph there, the only decision he had to make was what he wanted to eat.
Joseph was well-built and handsome, 7 and Potiphar’s wife soon noticed him. She asked him to make love to her, 8 but he refused and said, “My master isn’t worried about anything in his house, because he has placed me in charge of everything he owns. 9 No one in my master’s house is more important than I am. The only thing he hasn’t given me is you, and that’s because you are his wife. I won’t sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this.” 10 She kept begging Joseph day after day, but he refused to do what she wanted or even to go near her.
11 One day, Joseph went to Potiphar’s house to do his work, and none of the other servants were there. 12 Potiphar’s wife grabbed hold of his coat and said, “Make love to me!” Joseph ran out of the house, leaving her hanging onto his coat.
13 When this happened, 14 she called in her servants and said, “Look! This Hebrew has come just to make fools of us. He tried to rape me, but I screamed for help. 15 And when he heard me scream, he ran out of the house, leaving his coat with me.”
16 Potiphar’s wife kept Joseph’s coat until her husband came home. 17 Then she said, “That Hebrew slave of yours tried to rape me! 18 But when I screamed for help, he left his coat and ran out of the house.”
19 Potiphar became very angry 20 and threw Joseph in the same prison where the king’s prisoners were kept.
While Joseph was in prison, 21 the Lord helped him and was good to him. He even made the jailer like Joseph so much that 22 he put him in charge of the other prisoners and of everything that was done in the jail. 23 The jailer did not worry about anything, because the Lord was with Joseph and made him successful in all that he did.
Joseph Tells the Meaning of the Prisoners' Dreams
40 1-3 While Joseph was in prison, both the king’s[b] personal servant[c] and his chief cook made the king angry. So he had them thrown into the same prison with Joseph. 4 They spent a long time in prison, and Potiphar, the official in charge of the palace guard, made Joseph their servant.
5 One night each of the two men had a dream, but their dreams had different meanings. 6 The next morning, when Joseph went to see the men, he could tell they were upset, 7 and he asked, “Why are you so worried today?”
8 “We each had a dream last night,” they answered, “and there is no one to tell us what they mean.”
Joseph replied, “Doesn’t God know the meaning of dreams? Now tell me what you dreamed.”
9 The king’s personal servant told Joseph, “In my dream I saw a vine 10 with three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its grapes became ripe. 11 I held the king’s cup and squeezed the grapes into it, then I gave the cup to the king.”
12 Joseph said:
This is the meaning of your dream. The three branches stand for three days, 13 and in three days the king will pardon you. He will make you his personal servant again, and you will serve him his wine, just as you used to do. 14 But when these good things happen, please don’t forget to tell the king about me, so I can get out of this place. 15 I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and here in Egypt I haven’t done anything to deserve being thrown in jail.
16 When the chief cook saw that Joseph had given a good meaning to the dream, he told Joseph, “I also had a dream. In it I was carrying three breadbaskets stacked on top of my head. 17 The top basket was full of all kinds of baked things for the king, but birds were eating them.”
18 Joseph said:
This is the meaning of your dream. The three baskets are three days, 19 and in three days the king will cut off your head. He will hang your body on a pole, and birds will come and peck at it.
20 Three days later, while the king was celebrating his birthday with a dinner for his officials, he sent for his personal servant and the chief cook. 21 He put the personal servant back in his old job 22 and had the cook put to death.
Everything happened just as Joseph had said it would, 23 but the king’s personal servant completely forgot about Joseph.
Joseph Interprets the King’s Dreams
41 Two years later the king[d] of Egypt dreamed he was standing beside the Nile River. 2 Suddenly, seven fat, healthy cows came up from the river and started eating grass along the bank. 3 Then seven ugly, skinny cows came up out of the river and 4 ate the fat, healthy cows. When this happened, the king woke up.
5 The king went back to sleep and had another dream. This time seven full heads of grain were growing on a single stalk. 6 Later, seven other heads of grain appeared, but they were thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed the seven full heads. Again the king woke up, and it had only been a dream.
8 The next morning the king was upset. So he called in his magicians and wise men and told them what he had dreamed. None of them could tell him what the dreams meant.
9 The king’s personal servant said:
Now I remember what I was supposed to do. 10 When you were angry with me and your chief cook, you threw us both in jail in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 One night we both had dreams, and each dream had a different meaning. 12 A young Hebrew, who was a servant of the captain of the guard, was there with us at the time. When we told him our dreams, he explained what each of them meant, 13 and everything happened just as he said it would. I got my job back, and the cook was put to death.
14 The king sent for Joseph, who was quickly brought out of jail. He shaved, changed his clothes, and went to the king.
15 The king said to him, “I had a dream, yet no one can explain what it means. I am told that you can interpret dreams.”
16 “Your Majesty,” Joseph answered, “I can’t do it myself, but God can give a good meaning to your dreams.”
17 The king told Joseph:
I dreamed I was standing on the bank of the Nile River. 18 I saw seven fat, healthy cows come up out of the river, and they began feeding on the grass. 19 Next, seven skinny, bony cows came up out of the river. I have never seen such terrible looking cows anywhere in Egypt. 20 The skinny cows ate the fat ones. 21 But you couldn’t tell it, because these skinny cows were just as skinny as they were before. Right away, I woke up.
22 I also dreamed that I saw seven heads of grain growing on one stalk. The heads were full and ripe. 23 Then seven other heads of grain came up. They were thin and scorched by a wind from the desert. 24 These heads of grain swallowed the full ones. I told my dreams to the magicians, but none of them could tell me the meaning of the dreams.
25 Joseph replied:
Your Majesty, both of your dreams mean the same thing, and in them God has shown what he is going to do. 26 The seven good cows stand for seven years, and so do the seven good heads of grain. 27 The seven skinny, ugly cows that came up later also stand for seven years, as do the seven bad heads of grain that were scorched by the east wind. The dreams mean there will be seven years when there won’t be enough grain.
28 It is just as I said—God has shown what he intends to do. 29 For seven years Egypt will have more than enough grain, 30 but that will be followed by seven years when there won’t be enough. The good years of plenty will be forgotten, and everywhere in Egypt people will be starving. 31 The famine will be so bad that no one will remember that once there had been plenty. 32 God has given you two dreams to let you know that he has definitely decided to do this and that he will do it soon.
33 Your Majesty, you should find someone who is wise and will know what to do, so that you can put him in charge of all Egypt. 34 Then appoint some other officials to collect one-fifth of every crop harvested in Egypt during the seven years when there is plenty. 35 Give them the power to collect the grain during those good years and to store it in your cities. 36 It can be stored until it is needed during the seven years when there won’t be enough grain in Egypt. This will keep the country from being destroyed because of the lack of food.
Joseph Is Made Governor over Egypt
37 The king[e] and his officials liked this plan. 38 So the king said to them, “No one could possibly handle this better than Joseph, since the Spirit of God is with him.”
39 The king told Joseph, “God is the one who has shown you these things. No one else is as wise as you are or knows as much as you do. 40 I’m putting you in charge of my palace, and everybody will have to obey you. No one will be over you except me. 41 You are now governor of all Egypt!”
42 Then the king took off his royal ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. He gave him fine clothes to wear and placed a gold chain around his neck. 43 He also let him ride in the chariot next to his own, and people shouted, “Make way for Joseph!” So Joseph was governor of Egypt.
44 The king told Joseph, “Although I’m king, no one in Egypt is to do anything without your permission.” 45 He gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah. And he let him marry Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in the city of Heliopolis.[f] Joseph traveled all over Egypt.
46 Joseph was thirty when the king made him governor, and he went everywhere for the king. 47 For seven years there were big harvests of grain. 48 Joseph collected and stored up the extra grain in the cities of Egypt near the fields where it was harvested. 49 In fact, there was so much grain that they stopped keeping record, because it was like counting the grains of sand along the beach.
50 Joseph and his wife had two sons before the famine began. 51 Their first son was named Manasseh, which means, “God has let me forget all my troubles and my family back home.” 52 His second son was named Ephraim, which means “God has made me a success[g] in the land where I suffered.”[h]
53 Egypt’s seven years of plenty came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was not enough food in other countries, but all over Egypt there was plenty. 55 When the famine finally struck Egypt, the people asked the king for food, but he said, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you to do.”
56 The famine became bad everywhere in Egypt, so Joseph opened the storehouses and sold the grain to the Egyptians. 57 People from all over the world came to Egypt, because the famine was severe in their countries.
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt To Buy Grain
42 When Jacob found out there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you just sitting here, staring at one another? 2 I have heard there is grain in Egypt. Now go down and buy some, so we won’t starve to death.”
3 Ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. 4 But Jacob did not send Joseph’s younger brother Benjamin with them; he was afraid that something might happen to him. 5 So Jacob’s sons joined others from Canaan who were going to Egypt because of the terrible famine.
6 Since Joseph was governor of Egypt and in charge of selling grain, his brothers came to him and bowed with their faces to the ground. 7-8 They did not recognize Joseph, but right away he knew who they were, though he pretended not to know. Instead, he spoke harshly and asked, “Where do you come from?”
“From the land of Canaan,” they answered. “We’ve come here to buy grain.”
9 Joseph remembered what he had dreamed about them and said, “You’re spies! You’ve come here to find out where our country is weak.”
10 “No sir,” they replied. “We’re your servants, and we have only come to buy grain. 11 We’re honest men, and we come from the same family—we’re not spies.”
12 “That isn’t so!” Joseph insisted. “You’ve come here to find out where our country is weak.”
13 But they explained, “Sir, we come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and one of our brothers is dead.”
14 Joseph replied:
It’s just like I said. You’re spies, 15 and I’m going to find out who you really are. I swear by the life of the king that you won’t leave this place until your youngest brother comes here. 16 Choose one of you to go after your brother, while the rest of you stay here in jail. That will show whether you are telling the truth. But if you are lying, I swear by the life of the king that you are spies!
17 Joseph kept them all under guard for three days, 18 before saying to them:
Since I respect God, I’ll give you a chance to save your lives. 19 If you are honest men, one of you must stay here in jail, and the rest of you can take the grain back to your starving families. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me. Then I’ll know that you are telling the truth, and you won’t be put to death.
Joseph’s brothers agreed 21 and said to one another, “We’re being punished because of Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in, but we refused to help him when he begged us. That’s why these terrible things are happening.”
22 Reuben spoke up, “Didn’t I tell you not to harm the boy? But you wouldn’t listen, and now we have to pay the price for killing him.”
23 They did not know that Joseph could understand them, since he was speaking through an interpreter. 24 Joseph turned away from them and cried, but soon he turned back and spoke to them again. Then he had Simeon tied up and taken away while they watched.
Joseph’s Brothers Return to Canaan
25 Joseph gave orders for his brothers' grain sacks to be filled with grain and for their money[i] to be put in their sacks. He also gave orders for them to be given food for their journey home. After this was done, 26 they each loaded the grain on their donkeys and left.
27 When they stopped for the night, one of them opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey, and right away he saw his moneybag. 28 “Here’s my money!” he told his brothers. “Right here in my sack.”
They were trembling with fear as they stared at one another and asked themselves, “What has God done to us?”
29 When they returned to the land of Canaan, they told their father Jacob everything that had happened to them:
30 The governor of Egypt was rude and treated us like spies. 31 But we told him, “We’re honest men, not spies. 32 We come from a family of twelve brothers. The youngest is still with our father in Canaan, and the other is dead.”
33 Then the governor of Egypt told us, “I’ll find out if you really are honest. Leave one of your brothers here with me, while you take the grain to your starving families. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me, so I can be certain that you are honest men and not spies. After that, I’ll let your other brother go free, and you can stay here and trade.”
35 When the brothers started emptying their sacks of grain, they found their moneybags in them. They were frightened, and so was their father Jacob, 36 who said, “You have already taken my sons Joseph and Simeon from me. And now you want to take away Benjamin! Everything is against me.”
37 Reuben spoke up, “Father, if I don’t bring Benjamin back, you can kill both of my sons. Trust me with him, and I will bring him back.”
38 But Jacob said, “I won’t let my son Benjamin go down to Egypt with the rest of you. His brother is already dead, and he is the only son I have left.[j] I am an old man, and if anything happens to him on the way, I’ll die from sorrow, and all of you will be to blame.”
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