Why Could No One Interpret Pharaoh’s Dream? (Genesis 41:8)

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If you’re a “wise man” in ancient Egypt, you have literally one job.

Be wise.

That’s it. You normally don’t have to work in the fields, serve in the military, or open up a hot dog stand on a busy street corner, just tell the people what they want to hear. That’s what most people in ancient civilizations came to expect from soothsayers, magicians, and the like.

That’s certainly what Pharaoh expected from his wise men. After a series of dreams where skinny stalks and skinny cows at up fat stalks of corn and fat cows, he was troubled and (naturally) called for his men to interpret them.

Except no one could do it. Or, at least, they couldn’t do it to his satisfaction.

Until the chief cupbearer remembered a conversation with Joseph from the prison two years earlier. He vouches for Joseph’s credibility, and Pharaoh pulls him out of prison to hear his interpretation. 

Pharaoh’s dream was actually a prophecy about the economic state of Egypt for the next couple decades. First, according to Joseph, there will be seven years of abundance in the land of Egypt (Genesis 41:29), followed by several years of extreme famine (Genesis 41:30)

In interpreting Pharaoh’s dream, Joseph accomplishes two goals.

First, he rightfully points out that God is the only one who can interpret dreams, especially as a gateway to the future. In doing so, he shows the utter failure of manmade soothsayers to accomplish the same feat.

Second, Pharaoh’s insistence on finding a satisfying interpretation reveals the desire that we all have to know more about things that are important to us. When we’re desperate for answers, fluff answers and superficial explanations are not sufficient. When we want the truth, we want the truth!

Such is the case with us. For those that are truly seeking after God, surface-level understanding won’t cut it. Christians aren’t satisfied with milk (except at the beginning). We want meat! We want Truth! And only God can provide that for us.