The rewards for being a diviner of dreams

Genesis 41

Joseph is brought in to interpret a pair of dreams for the pharaoh:

After a lapse of two years, Pharaoh had a dream. He was standing by the Nile, when up out of the Nile came seven cows, fine-looking and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. Behind them seven other cows, poor-looking and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, the poor-looking, gaunt cows devoured the seven fine-looking, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and scorched by the east wind; and the thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up—it was a dream! (Genesis 41:1-7)

Joseph interprets these dreams as meaning that there will be seven years of prosperity followed by seven years of famine, and advises Pharaoh to stock up on food in preparation for the famine. Pharaoh is so pleased with Joseph that he appoints him second in charge of Egypt, outranked only by the pharaoh. He is given a signet ring, fine robes, an Egyptian name, a new wife, etc.

Joseph’s interpretation came to fruition, and seven years of prosperity was followed by seven years of famine. Thankfully, in his new position, Joseph had prepared Egypt for the famine, and the people were able to eat.

This chapter has given me opportunity to think more about what I had written yesterday. I think there was an important thing I overlooked, which is made a little more clear in this chapter. Joseph tells Pharaoh that “God has made known to Pharaoh what he is about to do” (Genesis 41:25). The implication of this being that the dreams are a message directly from God. The thing I find strange about this notion is that the message requires interpretation, or decoding, as if it is encrypted. This seems very strange and inefficient to me. Why doesn’t God communicate in a manner that would not require interpretation? Even in dreams, he could be more direct. Furthermore, why would he communicate in a mode that generally has no meaning. How is one to know when his dream is divine message, and when it is just the everyday dream with no special meaning?

I also want to take a minute to address an imaginary argument I had in my head. That being that the interpretations came true in both this chapter and the previous. Surely, this is a sign. To this I would say that no, this is a plot device. The stories wouldn’t work if Joseph was asked to interpret dreams, he did it all wrong, and was left in prison. It would also really diminish the readers feeling toward Joseph if he failed at his interpretations.

Lessons I Learned:

  • Messages from God are privileged, requiring a special interpreter.
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