Add parallel Print Page Options

The Cupbearer and the Baker

40 After these things happened, the cupbearer[a] to the king of Egypt and the royal baker[b] offended[c] their master, the king of Egypt. Pharaoh was enraged with his two officials,[d] the cupbearer and the baker, so he imprisoned them in the house of the captain of the guard in the same facility where Joseph was confined. The captain of the guard appointed Joseph to be their attendant, and he served them.[e]

They spent some time in custody.[f] Both of them, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison, had a dream[g] the same night.[h] Each man’s dream had its own meaning.[i] When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were looking depressed.[j] So he asked Pharaoh’s officials, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?”[k] They told him, “We both had dreams,[l] but there is no one to interpret them.” Joseph responded, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Tell them[m] to me.”

So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph:[n] “In my dream, there was a vine in front of me. 10 On the vine there were three branches. As it budded, its blossoms opened and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Now Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, squeezed them into his[o] cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”[p]

12 “This is its meaning,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches represent[q] three days. 13 In three more days Pharaoh will reinstate you[r] and restore you to your office. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you did before[s] when you were cupbearer. 14 But remember me[t] when it goes well for you, and show[u] me kindness.[v] Make mention[w] of me to Pharaoh and bring me out of this prison,[x] 15 for I really was kidnapped[y] from the land of the Hebrews and I have done nothing wrong here for which they should put me in a dungeon.”

16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation of the first dream was favorable,[z] he said to Joseph, “I also appeared in my dream and there were three baskets of white bread[aa] on my head. 17 In the top basket there were baked goods of every kind for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them from the basket that was on my head.”

18 Joseph replied, “This is its meaning: The three baskets represent[ab] three days. 19 In three more days Pharaoh will decapitate you[ac] and impale you on a pole. Then the birds will eat your flesh from you.”

20 On the third day it was Pharaoh’s birthday, so he gave a feast for all his servants. He “lifted up”[ad] the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker in the midst of his servants. 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his former position[ae] so that he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand, 22 but the chief baker he impaled, just as Joseph had predicted.[af] 23 But the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph—he forgot him.[ag]


  1. Genesis 40:1 sn The Hebrew term cupbearer corresponds to the Egyptian wb’, an official (frequently a foreigner) who often became a confidant of the king and wielded political power (see K. A. Kitchen, NBD3 248). Nehemiah held this post in Persia.
  2. Genesis 40:1 sn The baker may be the Egyptian retehti, the head of the bakers, who had privileges in the royal court.
  3. Genesis 40:1 sn The Hebrew verb translated offended here is the same one translated “sin” in 39:9. Perhaps there is an intended contrast between these officials, who deserve to be imprisoned, and Joseph, who refused to sin against God, but was thrown into prison in spite of his innocence.
  4. Genesis 40:2 tn The Hebrew word סָרִיס (saris), used here of these two men and of Potiphar (see 39:1), normally means “eunuch.” But evidence from Akkadian texts shows that in early times the title was used of a court official in general. Only later did it become more specialized in its use.
  5. Genesis 40:4 sn He served them. This is the same Hebrew verb, meaning “to serve as a personal attendant,” that was translated “became [his] servant” in 39:4.
  6. Genesis 40:4 tn Heb “they were days in custody.”
  7. Genesis 40:5 tn Heb “dreamed a dream.”
  8. Genesis 40:5 tn Heb “a man his dream in one night.”
  9. Genesis 40:5 tn Heb “a man according to the interpretation of his dream.”
  10. Genesis 40:6 tn The verb זָעַף (zaʿaf) only occurs here and Dan 1:10. It means “to be sick, to be emaciated,” probably in this case because of depression.
  11. Genesis 40:7 tn Heb “why are your faces sad today?”
  12. Genesis 40:8 tn Heb “a dream we dreamed.”
  13. Genesis 40:8 tn The word “them” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  14. Genesis 40:9 tn The Hebrew text adds “and he said to him.” This has not been translated because it is redundant in English.
  15. Genesis 40:11 tn Heb “the cup of Pharaoh.” The pronoun “his” has been used here in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  16. Genesis 40:11 sn The cupbearer’s dream is dominated by sets of three: three branches, three stages of growth, and three actions of the cupbearer.
  17. Genesis 40:12 tn Heb “the three branches [are].”
  18. Genesis 40:13 tn Heb “Pharaoh will lift up your head.” This Hebrew idiom usually refers to restoring dignity, office, or power. It is comparable to the modern saying “someone can hold his head up high.”
  19. Genesis 40:13 tn Heb “according to the former custom.”
  20. Genesis 40:14 tn Heb “but you have remembered me with you.” The perfect verbal form may be used rhetorically here to emphasize Joseph’s desire to be remembered. He speaks of the action as already being accomplished in order to make it clear that he expects it to be done. The form can be translated as volitional, expressing a plea or a request.
  21. Genesis 40:14 tn This perfect verbal form with the prefixed conjunction (and the two that immediately follow) carry the same force as the preceding perfect.
  22. Genesis 40:14 tn Heb “deal with me [in] kindness.”
  23. Genesis 40:14 tn The verb זָכַר (zakhar) in the Hiphil stem means “to cause to remember, to make mention, to boast.” The implication is that Joseph would be pleased for them to tell his story and give him the credit due him so that Pharaoh would release him. Since Pharaoh had never met Joseph, the simple translation of “cause him to remember me” would mean little.
  24. Genesis 40:14 tn Heb “house.” The word “prison” has been substituted in the translation for clarity.
  25. Genesis 40:15 tn The verb גָּנַב (ganav) means “to steal,” but in the Piel/Pual stem “to steal away.” The idea of “kidnap” would be closer to the sense, meaning he was stolen and carried off. The preceding infinitive absolute underscores the point Joseph is making.
  26. Genesis 40:16 tn Heb “that [the] interpretation [was] good.” The words “the first dream” are supplied in the translation for clarity.
  27. Genesis 40:16 tn Or “three wicker baskets.” The meaning of the Hebrew noun חֹרִי (khori, “white bread, cake”) is uncertain; some have suggested the meaning “wicker” instead. Comparison with texts from Ebla suggests the meaning “pastries made with white flour” (M. Dahood, “Eblaite ḫa-rí and Genesis 40, 16 ḥōrî,” BN 13 [1980]: 14-16).
  28. Genesis 40:18 tn Heb “the three baskets [are].”
  29. Genesis 40:19 tn Heb “Pharaoh will lift up your head from upon you.” Joseph repeats the same expression from the first interpretation (see v. 13), but with the added words “from upon you,” which allow the statement to have a more literal and ominous meaning—the baker will be decapitated.
  30. Genesis 40:20 tn The translation puts the verb in quotation marks because it is used rhetorically here and has a double meaning. With respect to the cupbearer it means “reinstate” (see v. 13), but with respect to the baker it means “decapitate” (see v. 19).
  31. Genesis 40:21 tn Heb “his cupbearing.”
  32. Genesis 40:22 tn Heb “had interpreted for them.”sn The dreams were fulfilled exactly as Joseph had predicted, down to the very detail. Here was confirmation that Joseph could interpret dreams and that his own dreams were still valid. It would have been a tremendous encouragement to his faith, but it would also have been a great disappointment to spend two more years in jail.
  33. Genesis 40:23 tn The wayyiqtol verbal form here has a reiterative or emphasizing function.

Bible Gateway Sponsors