401Some time later the king of Egypt's wine steward and his chief baker offended the king. 2He was angry with these two officials 3and put them in prison in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same place where Joseph was being kept. 4They spent a long time in prison, and the captain assigned Joseph as their servant.
5One night there in prison the wine steward and the chief baker each had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were upset. 7He asked them, “Why do you look so worried today?”
8They answered, “Each of us had a dream, and there is no one here to explain what the dreams mean.”
“It is God who gives the ability to interpret dreams,” Joseph said. “Tell me your dreams.”
9So the wine steward said, “In my dream there was a grapevine in front of me 10with three branches on it. As soon as the leaves came out, the blossoms appeared, and the grapes ripened. 11I was holding the king's cup; so I took the grapes and squeezed them into the cup and gave it to him.”
12Joseph said, “This is what it means: the three branches are three days. 13In three days the king will release you, pardon you, and restore you to your position. You will give him his cup as you did before when you were his wine steward. 14But please remember me when everything is going well for you, and please be kind enough to mention me to the king and help me to get out of this prison. 15After all, I was kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here in Egypt I didn't do anything to deserve being put in prison.”
16When the chief baker saw that the interpretation of the wine steward's dream was favourable, he said to Joseph, “I had a dream too; I was carrying three bread baskets on my head. 17In the top basket there were all kinds of pastries for the king, and the birds were eating them.”
18Joseph answered, “This is what it means: the three baskets are three days. 19In three days the king will release you — and have your head cut off! Then he will hang your body on a pole, and the birds will eat your flesh.”
20On his birthday three days later the king gave a banquet for all his officials; he released his wine steward and his chief baker and brought them before his officials. 21He restored the wine steward to his former position, 22but he executed the chief baker. It all happened just as Joseph had said. 23But the wine steward never gave Joseph another thought — he forgot all about him.
411After two years had passed, the king of Egypt dreamt that he was standing by the River Nile, 2when seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the river and began to feed on the grass. 3Then seven other cows came up; they were thin and bony. They came and stood by the other cows on the river bank, 4and the thin cows ate up the fat cows. Then the king woke up. 5He fell asleep again and had another dream. Seven ears of corn, full and ripe, were growing on one stalk. 6Then seven other ears of corn sprouted, thin and scorched by the desert wind, 7and the thin ears of corn swallowed the full ones. The king woke up and realized that he had been dreaming. 8
In the morning he was worried, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. He told them his dreams, but no one could explain them to him.
9Then the wine steward said to the king, “I must confess today that I have done wrong. 10You were angry with the chief baker and me, and you put us in prison in the house of the captain of the guard. 11One night each of us had a dream, and the dreams had different meanings. 12A young Hebrew was there with us, a slave of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us. 13Things turned out just as he said: you restored me to my position, but you executed the baker.”
14The king sent for Joseph, and he was immediately brought from the prison. After he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came into the king's presence. 15The king said to him, “I have had a dream, and no one can explain it. I have been told that you can interpret dreams.”
16Joseph answered, “I cannot, Your Majesty, but God will give a favourable interpretation.”
17The king said, “I dreamt that I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when seven cows, fat and sleek, came up out of the river and began feeding on the grass. 19Then seven other cows came up which were thin and bony. They were the poorest cows I have ever seen anywhere in Egypt. 20The thin cows ate up the fat ones, 21but no one would have known it, because they looked just as bad as before. Then I woke up. 22I also dreamt that I saw seven ears of corn which were full and ripe, growing on one stalk. 23Then seven ears of corn sprouted, thin and scorched by the desert wind, 24and the thin ears of corn swallowed the full ones. I told the dreams to the magicians, but none of them could explain them to me.”
25Joseph said to the king, “The two dreams mean the same thing; God has told you what he is going to do. 26The seven fat cows are seven years, and the seven full ears of corn are also seven years; they have the same meaning. 27The seven thin cows which came up later and the seven thin ears of corn scorched by the desert wind are seven years of famine. 28It is just as I told you — God has shown you what he is going to do. 29There will be seven years of great plenty in all the land of Egypt. 30After that, there will be seven years of famine, and all the good years will be forgotten, because the famine will ruin the country. 31The time of plenty will be entirely forgotten, because the famine which follows will be so terrible. 32The repetition of your dream means that the matter is fixed by God and that he will make it happen in the near future.
33“Now you should choose some man with wisdom and insight and put him in charge of the country. 34You must also appoint other officials and take a fifth of the crops during the seven years of plenty. 35Order them to collect all the food during the good years that are coming, and give them authority to store up corn in the cities and guard it. 36The food will be a reserve supply for the country during the seven years of famine which are going to come on Egypt. In this way the people will not starve.”
37The king and his officials approved this plan, 38and he said to them, “We will never find a better man than Joseph, a man who has God's Spirit in him.” 39The king said to Joseph, “God has shown you all this, so it is obvious that you have greater wisdom and insight than anyone else. 40
I will put you in charge of my country, and all my people will obey your orders. Your authority will be second only to mine. 41I now appoint you governor over all Egypt.” 42
The king removed from his finger the ring engraved with the royal seal and put it on Joseph's finger. He put a fine linen robe on him, and placed a gold chain round his neck. 43He gave him the second royal chariot to ride in, and his guard of honour went ahead of him and cried out, “Make way! Make way!” And so Joseph was appointed governor over all Egypt. 44The king said to him, “I am the king — and no one in all Egypt shall so much as lift a hand or a foot without your permission.” 45-46He gave Joseph the Egyptian name Zaphenath Paneah, and he gave him a wife, Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in the city of Heliopolis.
Joseph was thirty years old when he began to serve the king of Egypt. He left the king's court and travelled all over the land. 47During the seven years of plenty the land produced abundant crops, 48all of which Joseph collected and stored in the cities. In each city he stored the food from the fields around it. 49There was so much corn that Joseph stopped measuring it — it was like the sand of the sea.
50Before the years of famine came, Joseph had two sons by Asenath. 51He said, “God has made me forget all my sufferings and all my father's family”; so he named his first son Manasseh.41.51 Manasseh: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “cause to forget”. 52He also said, “God has given me children in the land of my trouble”; so he named his second son Ephraim.41.52 Ephraim: This name sounds like the Hebrew for “give children”.
53The seven years of plenty that the land of Egypt had enjoyed came to an end, 54
and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in every other country, but there was food throughout Egypt. 55
When the Egyptians began to be hungry, they cried out to the king for food. So he ordered them to go to Joseph and do what he told them. 56The famine grew worse and spread over the whole country, so Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold corn to the Egyptians. 57People came to Egypt from all over the world to buy corn from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.
421When Jacob learnt that there was corn in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why don't you do something? 2
I hear that there is corn in Egypt; go there and buy some to keep us from starving to death.” 3So Joseph's ten half-brothers went to buy corn in Egypt, 4but Jacob did not send Joseph's full-brother Benjamin with them, because he was afraid that something might happen to him.
5The sons of Jacob came with others to buy corn, because there was famine in the land of Canaan. 6Joseph, as governor of the land of Egypt, was selling corn to people from all over the world. So Joseph's brothers came and bowed down before him with their faces to the ground. 7When Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he acted as if he did not know them. He asked them harshly, “Where do you come from?”
“We have come from Canaan to buy food,” they answered.
8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9
He remembered the dreams he had dreamt about them and said, “You are spies; you have come to find out where our country is weak.”
10“No, sir,” they answered. “We have come as your slaves, to buy food. 11We are all brothers. We are not spies, sir, we are honest men.”
12Joseph said to them, “No! You have come to find out where our country is weak.”
13They said, “We were twelve brothers in all, sir, sons of the same man in the land of Canaan. One brother is dead, and the youngest is now with our father.”
14“It is just as I said,” Joseph answered. “You are spies. 15This is how you will be tested: I swear by the name of the king that you will never leave unless your youngest brother comes here. 16One of you must go and get him. The rest of you will be kept under guard until the truth of what you say can be tested. Otherwise, as sure as the king lives, you are spies.” 17Then he put them in prison for three days.
18On the third day Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man, and I will spare your lives on one condition. 19To prove that you are honest, one of you will stay in the prison where you have been kept; the rest of you may go and take back to your starving families the corn that you have bought. 20Then you must bring your youngest brother to me. This will prove that you have been telling the truth, and I will not put you to death.”
They agreed to this 21and said to one another, “Yes, now we are suffering the consequences of what we did to our brother; we saw the great trouble he was in when he begged for help, but we would not listen. That is why we are in this trouble now.”
Reuben said, “I told you not to harm the boy, but you wouldn't listen. And now we are being paid back for his death.” 23Joseph understood what they said, but they did not know it, because they had been speaking to him through an interpreter. 24Joseph left them and began to cry. When he was able to speak again, he came back, picked out Simeon, and had him tied up in front of them.
25Joseph gave orders to fill his brothers' packs with corn, to put each man's money back in his sack, and to give them food for the journey. This was done. 26The brothers loaded their donkeys with the corn they had bought, and then they left. 27At the place where they spent the night, one of them opened his sack to feed his donkey and found his money at the top of the sack. 28“My money has been returned to me,” he called to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack!” Their hearts sank, and in fear they asked one another, “What has God done to us?”
29When they came to their father Jacob in Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them: 30“The governor of Egypt spoke harshly to us and accused us of spying against his country. 31‘We are not spies,’ we answered, ‘we are honest men. 32We were twelve brothers in all, sons of the same father. One brother is dead, and the youngest is still in Canaan with our father.’ 33The man answered, ‘This is how I will find out if you are honest men: one of you will stay with me; the rest will take corn for your starving families and leave. 34Bring 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 can stay here and trade.’ ”
35Then when they emptied out their sacks, every one of them found his bag of money; and when they saw the money, they and their father Jacob were afraid. 36Their father said to them, “Do you want to make me lose all my children? Joseph is gone; Simeon is gone; and now you want to take away Benjamin. I am the one who suffers!”
37Reuben said to his father, “If I do not bring Benjamin back to you, you can kill my two sons. Put him in my care, and I will bring him back.”
38But Jacob said, “My son cannot go with you; his brother is dead, and he is the only one left. Something might happen to him on the way. I am an old man, and the sorrow you would cause me would kill me.”