Summary: God saves Egypt and the world from famine through Joseph. This is the plan He had from the beginning and everything is worked out exactly the right way and exactly on time.
Chapter 40 ends on a depressing note: “Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.” Chapter 41 doesn’t start out much better: “And it came to pass at the end of two full years.” Joseph’s life to this point has been little more than trouble. He’s been hated, abused, and abandoned. But through all this we’ve been reminded that the Lord was with him. The butler and everyone else may have forgotten him, but God has not.
Chapter 41 shows how all these “bad” things really do work out for good:
And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river. 2And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow. 3And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river. 4And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke. 5And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. 7And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream. 8And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. 9Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day: 10Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker: 11And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream. 12And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret. 13And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.
So, God causes Pharaoh to have two dreams. In one seven gaunt cows eat seven plump cows. Pharaoh wakes up a little disturbed but he goes back to sleep. In the second dream seven plump ears of grain are replaced by seven scorched ears. Again, Pharaoh awakens very disturbed and the next morning he calls for all his magicians and wise men to tell him what to do. But the trouble is they can’t think of anything to say and finally the chief cupbearer remembers Joseph and speaks to Pharaoh about him.
14Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.
Finally Joseph will get his chance in front of Pharaoh. He’s pulled out of the dungeon hastily, thrown into the shower, given some clean clothes and marched in front of the leader of Egypt.
15And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it. 16And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.
I picture Pharaoh shooting a glare at the cupbearer when Joseph says he can’t do it, but Joseph has more to say: ”I can’t do it, but God can.”
17And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river: 18And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow: 19And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness: 20And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine: 21And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke. 22And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good: 23And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them: 24And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me. 25And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. 27And the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years; and the seven empty ears blasted with the east wind shall be seven years of famine. 28This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he sheweth unto Pharaoh. 29Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: 30And there shall arise after them seven years of famine; and all the plenty shall be forgotten in the land of Egypt; and the famine shall consume the land; 31And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. 32And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.