Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream; and behold, he stood by the river.
Two years had passed since the chief butler had been restored, and Joseph was still in prison.
Then one night Pharaoh had a dream. He dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River when seven healthy and fat cows came out of the river and fed in the meadow. Suddenly, seven sickly and scrawny cows came out of the river and ate the healthy cows. The dream was so vivid and shocking that it awakened Pharaoh (verses 1-4).
But he managed to get back to sleep and then dreamed again.
This time Pharaoh dreamed about seven plump and good heads of grain that came up on one stalk. But suddenly, seven thin and damaged heads of grain sprang up and devoured the seven good heads of grain. And again, Pharaoh awoke startled (verses 5-7).
Pharaoh tried to find an interpretation of the dreams through his magicians and wise men—but to no avail. They could not offer a reasonable interpretation of what the dreams meant. It was this situation that caused the chief butler to remember Joseph and his correct interpretation of his and the baker’s dreams two years earlier (verses 8-13).
The butler’s good word caused Pharaoh to call for Joseph. Before Joseph came into Pharaoh’s presence, he was shaved, cleaned up and dressed in proper clothing to appear before a king (verse 14). Though the information about Joseph being shaved and cleaned in verse 14 may seem insignificant, it is actually an important historical detail. Hieroglyphics and art from ancient Egypt show that the Egyptians were very particular about grooming and hygiene. This verse supports the historicity of the biblical record.
Pharaoh then told Joseph his dreams, and Joseph assured Pharaoh that it is only God who can interpret dreams (verses 15-16).
Joseph then proceeded to reveal the meaning of the two dreams: Though there were two separate dreams, they were in fact one—they both brought the same message. The dreams revealed that there would immediately be seven years of agricultural abundance in Egypt. But, following those seven years, there would be seven years of severe famine (verses 17-32).
It is important that we understand there were greater forces at work than just the long-range weather patterns in Egypt. Over the next 14 years, God would use His miraculous control of the weather to accomplish His purpose of bringing Israel into Egypt. As we will see, the family of Israel would be miraculously saved through Joseph and the food he stored up in Egypt. Then they as a nation would be saved from Egypt several hundred years later.
To learn more about God’s use of dreams in biblical history, read “Interpretation of Dreams.”
Tomorrow on the Daily Bible Verse Blog: “From Slave to Leader.”