Genesis 40-43 Common English Bible (CEB)
Joseph interprets dreams in prison
40 Some time later, both the wine steward and the baker for Egypt’s king offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief wine steward and the chief baker, 3 and he put them under arrest with the commander of the royal guard in the same jail where Joseph was imprisoned. 4 The commander of the royal guard assigned Joseph to assist them. After they had been under arrest for some time, 5 both of them—the wine steward and the baker for Egypt’s king who were imprisoned in the jail—had dreams one night, and each man’s dream had its own meaning. 6 When Joseph met them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. 7 He asked the officers of Pharaoh who were under arrest with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so distressed today?”
8 They answered, “We’ve both had dreams, but there’s no one to interpret them.”
Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Describe your dreams to me.”
9 The chief wine steward described his dream to Joseph: “In my dream there was a vine right in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. When it budded, its blossoms appeared, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, so I took the grapes, crushed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and put the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.”
12 Joseph said to him, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three branches are three days. 13 After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and return you to your position. You will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just the way things were before when you were his wine steward. 14 But please, remember me when you are doing well and be loyal to me. Put in a good word for me to Pharaoh, so he sets me free from this prison. 15 I was stolen from the land of the Hebrews, and here too I’ve done nothing to be thrown into this dungeon.”
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favorable, he said to Joseph, “It was the same for me. In my dream, there were three baskets of white bread[a] on my head. 17 In the basket on top there were baked goods for Pharaoh’s food, but birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.”
18 Joseph responded, “This is the dream’s interpretation: The three baskets are three days. 19 After three days, Pharaoh will give you an audience and will hang you from a tree where birds will peck your flesh from you.”
20 The third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a party for all of his servants. Before all of his servants, he gave an audience to the chief wine steward and the chief baker. 21 He returned the chief wine steward to his position, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand. 22 But the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had said would happen when he interpreted their dreams for them. 23 But the chief wine steward didn’t remember Joseph; he forgot all about him.
Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams
41 Two years later, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing near the Nile. 2 In front of him, seven healthy-looking, fattened cows climbed up out of the Nile and grazed on the reeds. 3 Just then, seven other cows, terrible-looking and scrawny, climbed up out of the Nile after them and stood beside them on the bank of the Nile. 4 The terrible-looking, scrawny cows devoured the seven healthy-looking, fattened cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5 He went back to sleep and had a second dream, in which seven ears of grain, full and healthy, grew on a single stalk. 6 Just then, seven ears of grain, scrawny and scorched by the east wind, sprouted after them, 7 and the scrawny ears swallowed up the full and well-formed ears. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream. 8 In the morning, he was disturbed and summoned all of Egypt’s religious experts[b] and all of its advisors. Pharaoh described his dreams[c] to them, but they couldn’t interpret them for Pharaoh.
9 Then the chief wine steward spoke to Pharaoh: “Today I’ve just remembered my mistake. 10 Pharaoh was angry with his servants and put me and the chief baker under arrest with the commander of the royal guard. 11 We both dreamed one night, he and I, and each of our dreams had its own interpretation. 12 A young Hebrew man, a servant of the commander of the royal guard, was with us. We described our dreams to him, and he interpreted our dreams for us, giving us an interpretation for each dream. 13 His interpretations came true exactly: Pharaoh restored me to my position but hanged him.”
14 So Pharaoh summoned Joseph, and they quickly brought him from the dungeon. He shaved, changed clothes, and appeared before Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, but no one could interpret it. Then I heard that when you hear a dream, you can interpret it.”
16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It’s not me. God will give Pharaoh a favorable response.”
17 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile. 18 In front of me, seven fattened, stout cows climbed up out of the Nile and grazed on the reeds. 19 Just then, seven other cows, weak and frail and thin, climbed up after them. I’ve never seen such awful cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 Then the thin, frail cows devoured the first seven, fattened cows. 21 But after they swallowed them whole, no one would have known it. They looked just as bad as they had before. Then I woke up. 22 I went to sleep again[d] and saw in my dream seven full and healthy ears of grain growing on one stalk. 23 Just then, seven hard and thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, sprouted after them, 24 and the thin ears swallowed up the healthy ears. I told the religious experts,[e] but they couldn’t explain it to me.”
25 Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Pharaoh has actually had one dream. God has announced to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears of grain are seven years. It’s actually one dream. 27 The seven thin and frail cows, climbing up after them, are seven years. The seven thin ears of grain, scorched by the east wind, are seven years of famine. 28 It’s just as I told Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the entire land of Egypt. 30 After them, seven years of famine will appear, and all of the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. The famine will devastate the land. 31 No one will remember the abundance in the land because the famine that follows will be so very severe. 32 The dream occurred to Pharaoh twice because God has determined to do it, and God will make it happen soon.
Joseph’s rise to power
33 “Now Pharaoh should find an intelligent, wise man and give him authority over the land of Egypt. 34 Then Pharaoh should appoint administrators over the land and take one-fifth of all the produce of the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 During the good years that are coming, they should collect all such food and store the grain under Pharaoh’s control, protecting the food in the cities. 36 This food will be reserved for the seven years of famine to follow in the land of Egypt so that the land won’t be ravaged by the famine.”
37 This advice seemed wise to Pharaoh and all his servants, 38 and Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man with more God-given gifts[f] than this one?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, no one is as intelligent and wise as you are. 40 You will be in charge of my kingdom,[g] and all my people will obey[h] your command. Only as the enthroned king will I be greater than you.” 41 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Know this: I’ve given you authority over the entire land of Egypt.” 42 Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, he dressed him in linen clothes, and he put a gold necklace around his neck. 43 He put Joseph on the chariot of his second-in-command, and everyone in front of him cried out, “Attention!”[i] So Pharaoh installed him over the entire land of Egypt. 44 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh; no one will do anything or go anywhere in all the land of Egypt without your permission.” 45 Pharaoh renamed Joseph, Zaphenath-paneah, and married him to Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera the priest of Heliopolis.[j]
Then Joseph assumed control of the land of Egypt. 46 Joseph was 30 years old when he began to serve Pharaoh, Egypt’s king, when he left Pharaoh’s court and traveled through the entire land of Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance, the land produced plentifully. 48 He collected all of the food during the seven years of abundance[k] in the land of Egypt, and stored the food in cities. In each city, he stored the food from the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph amassed grain like the sand of the sea. There was so much that he stopped trying to measure it because it was beyond measuring. 50 Before the years of famine arrived, Asenath the daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis,[l] gave birth to two sons for Joseph. 51 Joseph named the oldest son Manasseh,[m] “because,” he said, “God has helped me forget all of my troubles and everyone in my father’s household.” 52 He named the second Ephraim,[n] “because,” he said, “God has given me children in the land where I’ve been treated harshly.”
53 The seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. The famine struck every country, but the entire land of Egypt had bread. 55 When the famine ravaged the entire land of Egypt and the people pleaded to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh said to all of the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph. Do whatever he tells you.” 56 The famine covered every part of the land, and Joseph opened all of the granaries[o] and sold grain to the Egyptians. In the land of Egypt, the famine became more and more severe. 57 Every country came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because in every country the famine had also become more severe.
Joseph’s brothers arrive in Egypt
42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why are you staring blankly at each other? 2 I’ve just heard that there’s grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us so that we can survive and not starve to death.” 3 So Joseph’s ten brothers went down to buy grain in Egypt. 4 However, Jacob didn’t send Joseph’s brother Benjamin along with his brothers because he thought something bad might happen to him. 5 Israel’s sons came to buy grain with others who also came since the famine had spread to the land of Canaan.
6 As for Joseph, he was the land’s governor, and he was the one selling grain to all the land’s people. When Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him, their faces to the ground. 7 When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he acted like he didn’t know them. He spoke to them with a harsh tone and said, “Where have you come from?”
And they said, “From the land of Canaan to buy food.”
8 Joseph recognized his brothers, but they didn’t recognize him. 9 Joseph remembered the dreams he had dreamed about them, and said to them, “You are spies. You’ve come to look for the country’s weaknesses.”
10 They said to him, “No, Master. Your servants have just come to buy food. 11 We are all sons of one man. We are honest men. Your servants aren’t spies.”
12 He said to them, “No. You’ve come to look for the country’s weaknesses.”
13 They said, “We, your servants, are twelve brothers, sons of one man in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, but one is gone.”
14 Joseph said to them, “It’s just as I’ve said to you. You are spies! 15 But here is how to prove yourselves: As Pharaoh lives, you won’t leave here until your youngest brother arrives. 16 Send one of you to get your brother, but the rest of you will stay in prison. We will find out if your words are true. If not, as Pharaoh lives, you are certainly spies.”
Joseph’s brothers return to Canaan
17 He put them all in prison for three days. 18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I’m a God-fearing man. 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay in prison, and the rest of you, go, take grain back to those in your households who are hungry. 20 But bring your youngest brother back to me so that your words will prove true and you won’t die.”
So they prepared to do this. 21 The brothers said to each other, “We are clearly guilty for what we did to our brother when we saw his life in danger and when he begged us for mercy, but we didn’t listen. That’s why we’re in this danger now.”
22 Reuben responded to them, “Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t do anything wrong to the boy’? But you wouldn’t listen. So now this is payback for his death.” 23 They didn’t know that Joseph was listening to them because they were using an interpreter. 24 He stepped away from them and wept. When he returned, he spoke with them again. Then he took Simeon from them and tied him up in front of them.
25 Then Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put back each man’s silver into his own sack, and to give them provisions for their trip, and it was done. 26 They loaded their grain onto their donkeys, and they set out. 27 When they stopped to spend the night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey, and he saw his silver at the top of his sack. 28 He said to his brothers, “My silver’s been returned. It’s right here in my sack.” Their hearts stopped. Terrified, they said to each other, “What has God done to us?”
29 When they got back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they described to him everything that had happened to them: 30 “The man, the country’s governor, spoke to us with a harsh tone and accused us of being spies in the country. 31 We told him, ‘We’re honest men, not spies. 32 We are twelve brothers, all our father’s sons. One of us is gone, but the youngest is right now with our father in the land of Canaan.’ 33 The man, the country’s governor, told us, ‘This is how I will know you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers with me, take grain for those in your households who are hungry, and go. 34 But bring back your youngest brother to me. Then I will know that you are not spies but honest men. I will give your brother back to you, and you may travel throughout the country.’”
35 When they opened their sacks, each man found a pouch of his silver in his sack. When they and their father saw their pouches of silver, they were afraid. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You’ve taken my children from me. Joseph’s gone. Simeon’s gone. And you are taking Benjamin. All this can’t really be happening to me!”
37 Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I don’t bring him back to you. Make him my responsibility, and I will make sure he returns to you.”
38 But Jacob said to him, “My son won’t go down with you because his brother’s dead and he’s been left all alone. If anything were to happen to him on the trip you are taking, you would send me—old as I am—to my grave in grief.”
Joseph’s brothers return with Benjamin
43 The famine was severe in the land, 2 and when they had eaten all the grain that they brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little food.”
3 Judah said to him, “The man was absolutely serious when he said, ‘You may not see me again without your brother with you.’ 4 If you agree to send our brother with us, then we will go down and buy you food. 5 But if you don’t agree to send him, then we can’t go down because the man said to us, ‘You may not see me again without your brother with you.’”
6 Israel said, “Why have you caused me such pain by telling the man you had another brother?”
7 They said, “The man asked us pointedly about our family: ‘Is your father still alive? Do you have a brother?’ So we told him just what we’ve said. How were we to know he’d say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”
8 Judah said to his father Israel, “Send the young man with me. Let’s get ready to leave so that we can stay alive and not die—we, you, and our children. 9 I will guarantee his safety; you can hold me responsible. If I don’t bring him back to you and place him here in front of you, it will be my fault forever. 10 If we hadn’t waited so long, we would’ve returned twice by now.”
11 Their father Israel said to them, “If it has to be, then do this. Take in your bags some of the land’s choice produce, and bring it down to the man as a gift: a little medicinal resin, a little honey, gum, resin, pistachios, and almonds. 12 Take twice as much silver with you, and take back the silver returned in the top of your sacks. It might have been a mistake. 13 And take your brother, get ready, and go back to the man. 14 May God Almighty[p] make the man compassionate toward you so that he may send back our other brother and Benjamin with you. But me, if I’m left childless, then I’m left childless.”
15 So the men took this gift. They took twice as much silver with them, together with Benjamin. They left, traveled down to Egypt, and received an audience with Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the manager of his household, “Bring the men to the house and slaughter an animal and prepare it because the men will have dinner with me at noon.” 17 The man did as Joseph told him and brought the men to Joseph’s house.
18 When they were brought to Joseph’s house, the men were frightened and said, “We’ve been brought here because of the silver put back in our sacks on our first trip so he can overpower us, capture us, make slaves of us, and take our donkeys.”
19 They approached the man who was Joseph’s household manager and spoke to him at the house’s entrance: 20 “Please, Master, we came down the first time just to buy food, 21 but when we stopped to spend the night and opened our sacks, there was the exact amount of each man’s silver at the top of his sack. We’ve brought it back with us, 22 and we’ve brought down with us additional silver to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”
23 He said, “You are fine. Don’t be afraid. Your God and your father’s God must have hidden a treasure in your sacks. I received your money.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.
24 The manager brought the men into Joseph’s house and gave them water to wash their feet and feed for their donkeys. 25 They prepared the gift, anticipating Joseph’s arrival at noon, since they had heard that they would have a meal there. 26 When Joseph came into the house, they presented him the gift they had brought with them into the house, and they bowed low in front of him. 27 He asked them how they were and said, “How is your elderly father, about whom you spoke? Is he still alive?”
28 They said, “Your servant our father is fine. He’s still alive.” And they bowed down again with deep respect.
29 Joseph looked up and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, and he said, “Is this your youngest brother whom you told me about? God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Joseph’s feelings for his brother were so strong he was about to weep, so he rushed to another room and wept there. 31 He washed his face, came back, pulled himself together, and said, “Set out the dinner.” 32 So they set out his food by himself, their food by themselves, and the Egyptians’ who ate with him by themselves because Egyptians don’t allow themselves to eat with Hebrews; the Egyptians think it beneath their dignity. 33 They were seated in front of him from the oldest to the youngest in their exact birth order, and the men looked at each other with amazement. 34 Portions of food from Joseph’s table were brought to them, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as large as theirs. So they drank together and were at ease.