The majority of this chapter is spent on accounting for all of the people included in Jacob’s house/family that went with him to Egypt. They are organized by mother. Jacob finally arrives in Egypt, and reunites with his son Joseph. Jacob is brought to tears with joy. Joseph then goes to tell the pharaoh that his family has arrived. He also informs them that he will tell the pharaoh that they are shepherds, and to say the same when they are asked. This is because shepherds are abhorrent to Egyptians.
Joseph reveals himself to his brothers, and immediately asks about his father. He tells his brothers to hurry home, get their father and to have everyone move down to Egypt, where he will provide for them. Pharaoh then hears about Joseph’s brothers, and also says that they should move to Egypt, where they will be provided with the best that Egypt has to offer. They returned to their father, who did not believe them until he saw all that Pharaoh and Joseph had sent with them. He then exclaimed, “My son Joseph is still alive! I must go and see him before I die.”
Joseph tells his steward to fill his brothers bags with as much food as they can carry, and also to put their money in the mouth of their bags. He also had his silver goblet placed in the mouth of his youngest brother’s bag. The brothers leave at dawn, but not long after, Joseph sends his men after them to accuse them of stealing. The brothers did not believe that they were being accused of stealing, but the goblet was found in the youngest brothers bag. All of the brothers returned to Joseph’s house.
“How could you do such a thing?” Joseph asked them. “Did you not know that such a man as I could discern by divination what happened?”
Joseph requests that the youngest brother become his slave as punishment. Judah then stepped forward to explain the situation regarding him taking the place of the youngest brother, so as to spare their father the pain of losing him.
The famine in the previous chapter was not just in Egypt, but the entire region. Joseph’s family sends ten of his brothers to Egypt to buy grain. Jacob, their father, keeps Benjamin behind for fear that something bad might happen to him. Joseph immediately recognizes his brothers, but keeps his identity hidden, and speaks harshly to them, accusing them of being spies, and locks them all up for three days. After three days, Joseph stated that in order to prove their innocence the brothers must return with their youngest, the caveat being that one brother must remain in custody. Simeon was bound, and the other 9 brothers were loaded with grain and sent home. Upon return, the brothers informed their father, Jacob, of what had happened, and also discovered that their money had been returned. However, Jacob refused to let the brothers return to Egypt with Benjamin in order to rescue Simeon.
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.
Whole Joseph was imprisoned, the royal baker and cup bearer were imprisoned as well. While doing his duties one day, he noticed that they looked disturbed. Upon inquiry, they stated that they had both had dreams, but nobody to interpret them. Joseph offered his help. First was the cup bearer:
“I saw a vine in front of me, and on the vine were three branches. It had barely budded when its blossoms came out, and its clusters ripened into grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; so I took the grapes, pressed them out into his cup, and put it in Pharaoh’s hand.” (Genesis 40:10-11)
Joseph interprets this dream favorably, telling the man that he will be restored to his former position of cup bearer. Joseph then requests that when this happens, that the cup bearer tell the pharaoh about Joseph, and how he was kidnapped from his land and is wrongly imprisoned. Because of the favorable interpretation given to the cup bearer, the baker asks for his dream to be interpreted as well:
“I too had a dream. In it I had three bread baskets on my head; in the top one were all kinds of bakery products for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” (Genesis 40:16-17)
Joseph did not interpret this dream in a favorable way. Instead, he told the baker that in three days the pharaoh would have him impaled. Three days later the pharaoh had a banquet, and Joseph’s interpretations of the dreams came true. The baker was impaled, and the cup bearer was restored to his position, however he did not tell the pharaoh about Joseph.