Joseph the Interpreter of Dreams (Genesis 40:8)

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Not long after Joseph offends Potiphar’s wife and ends up in jail, two other figures offend Pharaoh and are sent to jail right next to him: a cupbearer and a baker.

Nothing is known about what these two men actually did. Whatever it was, it must’ve been pretty terrible for Pharaoh to imprison both of them. A chief baker and chief cupbearer are both positions of immense trust in any royal household, so their dramatic change in status suggests something nefarious took place.

After they arrive in prison, both of them have very similar dreams. One involves the cupbearer squeezing grapes into Pharaoh’s cup, while the other involves birds eating bread out of a basket on the baker’s head. 

What could they possibly mean?

Fortunately for them, Joseph, who is no stranger to dreams himself, is in charge of the prison, and stops by on his morning rounds. He notices they’re depressed, and they quickly tell him that there is “no one to interpret it.”

Later, in the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar will run into the same predicament. A dream that very obviously means something, but no one is around to explain it. Nebuchadnezzar is so insistent on finding out the interpretation that he threatens to kill every “wise man” in the Kingdom. Until, that is, Daniel steps in and saves the day (Daniel 2).

Daniel’s opening line to Nebuchadnezzar is almost the exact same thing that Joseph says to the baker and cupbearer: “Interpretations belong to God!”

This phrasing is significant. In those days, soothsayers were regarded as conduits to a deity. For Joseph (and Daniel) to claim God as the source of interpretations rather than themselves, it shows where their trust ultimately lies.

Two years later, when Joseph appears before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, he says the same thing again: “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer” (Genesis 41:16). 

Truthfully, Joseph would hate the title of this article. He wasn’t the “interpreter of dreams.” That title, according to him, belongs solely to God.