Genesis 41:1-45:28View Full Chapter
Pharaoh’s Dreams 1When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.
4And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind.
7The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream.
8In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. 9Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream.
13And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.”
14So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh.
15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
16“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first.
21But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. 22“In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind.
24The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.” 25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream.
27The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine. 28“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.
32The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. 33“And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food.
36This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” 37The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials.
38So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God
40You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”
Joseph in Charge of Egypt 41So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck.
43He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command,
45Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On,
49Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.
50Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On.
51Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh
52The second son he named Ephraim
55When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.” 56When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere.
Joseph’s Brothers Go to Egypt 1When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?”
2He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” 3Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him.
5So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also. 6Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground.
7As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. “From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” 8Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him.
11We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.”
12“No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.”
13But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” 14Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!”
17And he put them all in custody for three days. 18On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households.
20But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do.
21They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” 22Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.”
23They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter.
24He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. 25Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them,
26they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. 27At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack.
28“My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” 29When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30“The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies.
32We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’ 33“Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go.
34But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade
36Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!”
37Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.” 38But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.”
The Second Journey to Egypt 1Now the famine was still severe in the land.
2So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.” 3But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ 4If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you.
5But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ ”
6Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”
7They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?” 8Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. 9I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life.
10As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.” 11Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13Take your brother also and go back to the man at once.
14And may God Almighty
16When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.” 17The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house.
18Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.” 19So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20“We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us.
22We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”
23“It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them. 24The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys.
25They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there. 26When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground.
27He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”
28They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him. 29As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.”
30Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.
31After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.” 32They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.
A Silver Cup in a Sack 1Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack.
2Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said. 3As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil?
5Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ ” 6When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?
9If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”
10“Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.” 11Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.
13At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city. 14Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him.
15Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”
16“What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
17But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.” 18Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’
20And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’ 21“Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’
26But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’ 27“Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since.
29If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’ 30“So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow.
32Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’ 33“Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”
Joseph Makes Himself Known 1Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers.
2And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.
3Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence. 4Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. 6For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping.
7But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.
11I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’ 12“You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you.
13Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.” 14Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping.
15And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him. 16When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan,
18and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’ 19“You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come.
20Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’ ”
21So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey.
22To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels
24Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!” 25So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”