41:1 At the end of two full years 1 Pharaoh had a dream. 2 As he was standing by the Nile, 41:2 seven fine-looking, fat cows were coming up out of the Nile, 3 and they grazed in the reeds. 41:3 Then seven bad-looking, thin cows were coming up after them from the Nile, 4 and they stood beside the other cows at the edge of the river. 5 41:4 The bad-looking, thin cows ate the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
41:5 Then he fell asleep again and had a second dream: There were seven heads of grain growing 6 on one stalk, healthy 7 and good. 41:6 Then 8 seven heads of grain, thin and burned by the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 41:7 The thin heads swallowed up the seven healthy and full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up and realized it was a dream. 9
41:8 In the morning he 10 was troubled, so he called for 11 all the diviner-priests 12 of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh told them his dreams, 13 but no one could interpret 14 them for him. 15 41:9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I recall my failures. 16 41:10 Pharaoh was enraged with his servants, and he put me in prison in the house of the captain of the guards – me and the chief baker. 41:11 We each had a dream one night; each of us had a dream with its own meaning. 17 41:12 Now a young man, a Hebrew, a servant 18 of the captain of the guards, 19 was with us there. We told him our dreams, 20 and he interpreted the meaning of each of our respective dreams for us. 21 41:13 It happened just as he had said 22 to us – Pharaoh 23 restored me to my office, but he impaled the baker.” 24
41:14 Then Pharaoh summoned 25 Joseph. So they brought him quickly out of the dungeon; he shaved himself, changed his clothes, and came before Pharaoh. 41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, 26 and there is no one who can interpret 27 it. But I have heard about you, that 28 you can interpret dreams.” 29 41:16 Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “It is not within my power, 30 but God will speak concerning 31 the welfare of Pharaoh.” 32
41:17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing 33 by the edge of the Nile. 41:18 Then seven fat and fine-looking cows were coming up out of the Nile, and they grazed in the reeds. 34 41:19 Then 35 seven other cows came up after them; they were scrawny, very bad-looking, and lean. I had never seen such bad-looking cows 36 as these in all the land of Egypt! 41:20 The lean, bad-looking cows ate up the seven 37 fat cows. 41:21 When they had eaten them, 38 no one would have known 39 that they had done so, for they were just as bad-looking as before. Then I woke up. 41:22 I also saw in my dream 40 seven heads of grain growing on one stalk, full and good. 41:23 Then 41 seven heads of grain, withered and thin and burned with the east wind, were sprouting up after them. 41:24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads of grain. So I told all this 42 to the diviner-priests, but no one could tell me its meaning.” 43
41:25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “Both dreams of Pharaoh have the same meaning. 44 God has revealed 45 to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 46 41:26 The seven good cows represent seven years, and the seven good heads of grain represent seven years. Both dreams have the same meaning. 47 41:27 The seven lean, bad-looking cows that came up after them represent seven years, as do the seven empty heads of grain burned with the east wind. They represent 48 seven years of famine. 41:28 This is just what I told 49 Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 41:29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the whole land of Egypt. 41:30 But seven years of famine will occur 50 after them, and all the abundance will be forgotten in the land of Egypt. The famine will devastate 51 the land. 41:31 The previous abundance of the land will not be remembered 52 because of the famine that follows, for the famine will be very severe. 53 41:32 The dream was repeated to Pharaoh 54 because the matter has been decreed 55 by God, and God will make it happen soon. 56
41:33 “So now Pharaoh should look 57 for a wise and discerning man 58 and give him authority 59 over all the land of Egypt. 41:34 Pharaoh should do 60 this – he should appoint 61 officials 62 throughout the land to collect one-fifth of the produce of the land of Egypt 63 during the seven years of abundance. 41:35 They should gather all the excess food 64 during these good years that are coming. By Pharaoh’s authority 65 they should store up grain so the cities will have food, 66 and they should preserve it. 67 41:36 This food should be held in storage for the land in preparation for the seven years of famine that will occur throughout the land of Egypt. In this way the land will survive the famine.” 68
1 tn Heb “two years, days.”
2 tn Heb “was dreaming.”
3 tn Heb “And look, he was standing by the Nile, and look, from the Nile were coming up seven cows, attractive of appearance and fat of flesh.” By the use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”), the narrator invites the audience to see the dream through Pharaoh’s eyes.
4 tn Heb “And look, seven other cows were coming up after them from the Nile, bad of appearance and thin of flesh.”
5 tn Heb “the Nile.” This has been replaced by “the river” in the translation for stylistic reasons.
6 tn Heb “coming up.”
7 tn Heb “fat.”
8 tn Heb “And look.”
9 tn Heb “And look, a dream.”
sn Pharaoh’s two dreams, as explained in the following verses, pertained to the economy of Egypt. Because of the Nile River, the land of Egypt weathered all kinds of famines – there was usually grain in Egypt, and if there was grain and water the livestock would flourish. These two dreams, however, indicated that poverty would overtake plenty and that the blessing of the herd and the field would cease.
10 tn Heb “his spirit.”
11 tn Heb “he sent and called,” which indicates an official summons.
12 tn The Hebrew term חַרְטֹם (khartom) is an Egyptian loanword (hyr-tp) that describes a class of priests who were skilled in such interpretations.
13 tn The Hebrew text has the singular (though the Samaritan Pentateuch reads the plural). If retained, the singular must be collective for the set of dreams. Note the plural pronoun “them,” referring to the dreams, in the next clause. However, note that in v. 15 Pharaoh uses the singular to refer to the two dreams. In vv. 17-24 Pharaoh seems to treat the dreams as two parts of one dream (see especially v. 22).
14 tn “there was no interpreter.”
15 tn Heb “for Pharaoh.” The pronoun “him” has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons.
17 tn Heb “and we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he, each according to the interpretation of his dream we dreamed.”
18 tn Or “slave.”
19 tn Heb “a servant to the captain of the guards.” On this construction see GKC 419-20 §129.c.
20 tn The words “our dreams” are supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
21 tn Heb “and he interpreted for us our dreams, each according to his dream he interpreted.”
22 tn Heb “interpreted.”
23 tn Heb “he”; the referent (Pharaoh) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
24 tn Heb “him”; the referent (the baker) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
25 tn Heb “and Pharaoh sent and called,” indicating a summons to the royal court.
26 tn Heb “dreamed a dream.”
27 tn Heb “there is no one interpreting.”
28 tn Heb “saying.”
29 tn Heb “you hear a dream to interpret it,” which may mean, “you only have to hear a dream to be able to interpret it.”
30 tn Heb “not within me.”
31 tn Heb “God will answer.”
32 tn The expression שְׁלוֹם פַּרְעֹה (shÿlom par’oh) is here rendered “the welfare of Pharaoh” because the dream will be about life in his land. Some interpret it to mean an answer of “peace” – one that will calm his heart, or give him the answer that he desires (cf. NIV, NRSV, NLT).
33 tn Heb “In my dream look, I was standing.” The use of the particle הִנֵּה (hinneh, “look”) here (and also in vv. 18, 19, 22, 23) invites the hearer (within the context of the narrative, Joseph; but in the broader sense the reader or hearer of the Book of Genesis) to observe the scene through Pharaoh’s eyes.
34 tn Heb “and look, from the Nile seven cows were coming up, fat of flesh and attractive of appearance, and they grazed in the reeds.”
35 tn Heb “And look.”
36 tn The word “cows” is supplied here in the translation for stylistic reasons.
37 tn Heb “the seven first fat cows.”
38 tn Heb “when they went inside them.”
39 tn Heb “it was not known.”
40 tn Heb “and I saw in my dream and look.”
41 tn Heb “And look.”
42 tn The words “all this” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
43 tn Heb “and there was no one telling me.”
44 tn Heb “the dream of Pharaoh is one.”
45 tn Heb “declared.”
46 tn The active participle here indicates what is imminent.
47 tn Heb “one dream it is.”
48 tn Heb “are.” Another option is to translate, “There will be seven years of famine.”
49 tn Heb “it is the word that I spoke.”
50 tn The perfect with the vav consecutive continues the time frame of the preceding participle, which has an imminent future nuance here.
51 tn The Hebrew verb כָּלָה (kalah) in the Piel stem means “to finish, to destroy, to bring an end to.” The severity of the famine will ruin the land of Egypt.
52 tn Heb “known.”
53 tn Or “heavy.”
54 tn Heb “and concerning the repeating of the dream to Pharaoh two times.” The Niphal infinitive here is the object of the preposition; it is followed by the subjective genitive “of the dream.”
55 tn Heb “established.”
56 tn The clause combines a participle and an infinitive construct: God “is hurrying…to do it,” meaning he is going to do it soon.
57 tn Heb “let Pharaoh look.” The jussive form expresses Joseph’s advice to Pharaoh.
58 tn Heb “a man discerning and wise.” The order of the terms is rearranged in the translation for stylistic reasons.
59 tn Heb “and let him set him.”
60 tn The imperfect verbal form has an obligatory nuance here. The Samaritan Pentateuch has a jussive form here, “and let [Pharaoh] do.”
61 tn Heb “and let him appoint.” The jussive form expresses Joseph’s advice to Pharaoh.
62 tn Heb “appointees.” The noun is a cognate accusative of the preceding verb. Since “appoint appointees” would be redundant in English, the term “officials” was used in the translation instead.
63 tn Heb “and he shall collect a fifth of the land of Egypt.” The language is figurative (metonymy); it means what the land produces, i.e., the harvest.
64 tn Heb “all the food.”
65 tn Heb “under the hand of Pharaoh.”
66 tn Heb “[for] food in the cities.” The noun translated “food” is an adverbial accusative in the sentence.
67 tn The perfect with vav (ו) consecutive carries the same force as the sequence of jussives before it.
68 tn Heb “and the land will not be cut off in the famine.”
69 tn Heb “and the matter was good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of all his servants.”
70 tn Heb “like this,” but the referent could be misunderstood to be a man like that described by Joseph in v. 33, rather than Joseph himself. For this reason the proper name “Joseph” has been supplied in the translation.
71 tn The rhetorical question expects the answer “No, of course not!”