The Value of Joseph’s Interpretation (Genesis 41:33)

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Pharaoh’s dream perplexed everyone.

When he awoke from a night of dreams that were eerily similar, Pharaoh looked high and low for an explanation. He called for all the wise men of the land, and while all of them most likely offered some sort of explanation, Genesis 41:8, plainly states that no one could interpret them to Pharaoh.

Until Joseph walked through the door.

Looking back on the dreams themselves, it’s nearly impossible to think that anyone couldn’t put the pieces together. Of course the seven skinny cows eat the seven fat cows, and of course that means that there’ll be famine after a great surplus.

Of course!

Pharaoh didn’t even really make it challenging for them. Unlike Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel 2, Pharaoh even told them what the dream was. “Here it is,” he said to them. “What does it mean?”

Although we may never know what types of explanations the wise men gave to Pharaoh, we do know what Joseph said. Joseph’s interpretation in Genesis 41:25-36 is multi-faceted.

First, he gives the interpretation. No surprise there.

Next, he explains why the same type of dream was given to him twice. The double dream is God’s way of authenticating the message (Genesis 41:32)

Finally, and just as importantly, he gives some advice for Pharaoh on how to handle the interpretation.

This last step is important. Whenever God sends a message to people in Scripture, there’s almost always some kind of admonition to do something on the backend of it. He tells people to “repent” or “run” or “believe.” God isn’t just telling Pharaoh about the famine and surplus for kicks and giggles; he’s telling him to do something about it.

Joseph’s advice is extremely detailed as well. He talks about having a person in charge of the entire food storage process, then lower overseers that are in charge of the land that take a specific amount of produce to prepare for the famine. 

That’s the difference between knowledge and wisdom. A lot of interpreters might have had a “right” answer for Pharaoh, but what does he do about that? What action should he take?

I have no doubt that God was the one behind both the interpretation of the dream and the instructions given to Pharaoh. But when it comes to choosing a man “discerning and wise” to oversee the process, Pharaoh knew it had to be Joseph.

In the end, Pharaoh recognized the same thing about Joseph that both Potiphar and the Jailor realized — when you put your life in Joseph’s hands, it’s not just him that’s stewarding it, it’s God.