Genesis 41:25-45

The Exaltation of Joseph


Verse 25-32, And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do. {26} The seven good kine are seven years; and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one. {27} And 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. {28} This is the thing which I have spoken unto Pharaoh: What God is about to do he showeth unto Pharaoh. {29} Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: {30} And 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; {31} And the plenty shall not be known in the land by reason of that famine following; for it shall be very grievous. {32} And 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.

I.    The interpretation of the dreams.

A.     There is no indication that Joseph asks to be excused while he prays, or hesitates in any manner at all.

1.       He shows complete confidence under pressure for his trust in God is complete.

2.       This is extremely remarkable when we consider he has just come from the dungeon to stand before the most powerful man in Egypt.

3.       May God help us to keep our minds on Him regardless of the situation we are in.

B.     Verse 25 - Joseph quickly and accurately outlines everything he is about to say.

1.       The two dreams have the same meaning.

2.       God has shown Pharaoh what He is about to do.

a.      This will happen.

b.      It is not contingent upon anything, but everything else is contingent upon the famine.


II.    The interpretation of the dream.

A.     The seven good kine and the seven good ears are seven years.

B.     The seven lean kine and the seven lean ears are seven years.

C.     The river is the River Nile, which overflowed each year and provided water for Egypt, in which it didn't rain.

1.       It should be noted that the Nile River overflowed because of the heavy rains in Abyssinia, and to the steady volume of water from the White Nile, which carried the melted snow from the mountains of Central Africa.

2.       When the overflow didn't happen, it was because there wasn't heavy rains in Abyssinia or snow in the mountains.

3.       This indicates a wide spread drought, which included Canaan.

D.     The kine (cow, or heifer) was a symbol of productive power in Egypt.


III.    The reaction.

A.     Verse 37 - Everybody thought Joseph was right.

B.     They believed Joseph was right because the interpretation was in agreement with their customs, and way of living.

C.     It is amazing how nobody understood until Joseph explained the dreams, then everybody agreed it was so.

D.     There is no doubt God hid the interpretation from the wise and prudent and gave it to babes in Christ.


Verse 33-45, Now therefore let Pharaoh look out a man discreet and wise, and set him over the land of Egypt. {34} Let Pharaoh do this, and let him appoint officers over the land, and take up the fifth part of the land of Egypt in the seven plenteous years. {35} And let them gather all the food of those good years that come, and lay up corn under the hand of Pharaoh, and let them keep food in the cities. {36} And that food shall be for store to the land against the seven years of famine, which shall be in the land of Egypt; that the land perish not through the famine. {37} And the thing was good in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of all his servants. {38} And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? {39} And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art: {40} Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou. {41} And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt. {42} And Pharaoh took off his ring from his hand, and put it upon Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in vestures of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; {43} And he made him to ride in the second chariot which he had; and they cried before him, Bow the knee: and he made him ruler over all the land of Egypt. {44} And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I am Pharaoh, and without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot in all the land of Egypt. {45} And Pharaoh called Joseph's name Zaphnathpaaneah; and he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On. And Joseph went out over all the land of Egypt.

I.    The advice because of the interpretation.

A.     God did more than allow Joseph to interpret the dream, but also supplied him with a plan to save Egypt, as well as many other nations.

B.     Somebody must be set over the plan.

1.       When "everybody" has responsibility, "nobody" does anything.

a.      It might be insisted that it would be more reasonable for the individual families to provide for hard times than for the "federal government" to provide for it.

b.      It is odd that people will not generally provide for hard times even when they know those hard times are coming.

c.      In Joseph's day, as in this day, people are more apt to rely on their government to provide for them.

d.      This is so among the Egyptians of that day (and the lost of this day), but it ought not be so among "Christians".

e.      The only explanation is that God will provide for hard times through a God ordained governmental plan.  If God has so done, then it would be wise for Christians to obey this plan.

2.       The authority to appoint a person is with Pharaoh.

3.       Joseph makes no attempt to take that authority away from Pharaoh.

C.     Joseph advises that Pharaoh "delegate" the authority and responsibility.

1.       It is almost always good to delegate the authority and responsibility.

2.       Former President Reagan always delegated and accomplished more than many presidents who didn't delegate.

3.       The leader who delegates will accomplish more because there will be more people active in accomplishing goals, taking care of the many details that make up a successful organization.

4.       The only leader who will delegate is the leader who is comfortable in his own position.

D.     The qualifications are (1) discreet and (2) wise.

1.       The future of Egypt and many other nations depends on this individual, so let him be chosen carefully.

2.       Pharaoh will also appoint officers over the land of Egypt to take up 20% of the increase for seven years.


II.    The plan for prosperity.  Pharaoh will be in charge of everything.

A.     Pharaoh will appoint a leader to oversee the entire project.

B.     Pharaoh will then appoint officers to take care of collecting 20% of the crops in the seven plenteous years.

1.       This may be a tax.  If it is a tax, it doesn't seem right to sell the grain back to the people who provided it in the first place.

2.       If it is a purchase, the increase in crops would cause the price to be lower, so the purchases of vast amount of grain would be possible.

C.     The place of storage.

1.       The grain will be stored in the place it is raised.

2.       This will mean fewer transportation problems, and will alleviate accountability problems.


III.    Joseph's appointment.

A.     Verse 37 - It seems everybody was content with the interpretation of the dream and the plan.

1.       The scripture does not say that everybody was agreed that Joseph was the man to set over the job.

2.       Everybody knew that Joseph had just come from the dungeon, so they weren't sure he could handle such an undertaking.

B.     I do not believe Joseph was trying to establish himself as a leader in Egypt.

1.       In verse 16, Joseph confessed that he didn't have a lot of ability, but that he was trusting in God.

2.       He had just come from prison, and it seems unreasonable that he could have thought of elevating himself to such a position so quickly.

3.       His history with his brothers, Potiphar and his wife, and his experiences in the dungeon have successfully removed all his selfish ambitions.

C.     What the Pharaoh saw in Joseph.

1.       Joseph could handle himself well under pressure.

2.       They had enough spiritual discernment to realize that God's hand was involved, and that Joseph was a man of God.

3.       Pharaoh believes that the same God who helped Joseph interpret the dreams and give the plan will aid in the carrying out of the plan.

D.     Pharaoh is careful to retain his position and establish Joseph's rule.

1.       Retaining his position.

a.      Verse 40 - "...Only in the throne shall I be greater than thou".

b.      Verse 41 - I have set you over Egypt.

c.      Verse 43 - Pharaoh made Joseph to ride in the second chariot.

d.      Verse 44 - Pharaoh again declares the position of himself and Joseph.

e.      Verse 45 - Pharaoh changed Joseph's name.

f.       Verse 45 - Pharaoh arranged the marriage since Joseph's dad wasn't there.

2.       Establishing Joseph's rule.

a.      It would do little good to say Joseph had authority if Pharaoh didn't recognize it.

b.      Verse 40 - The people shall be ruled at the word of Joseph.

c.      Verse 41 - Pharaoh declares to Joseph that he has set him over all the land of Egypt.

d.      Verse 43 - Pharaoh causes the people to bow the knee so they would know Joseph's position.

e.      Verse 44 - The Egyptians shall obey Joseph, but Joseph shall remember that Pharaoh is still Pharaoh.


IV.    Joseph had been prepared for the task.

A.     Verse 40 - Pharaoh appoints Joseph over his own house first of all.  Joseph was prepared in the house of Potiphar for such a task as this.

1.       Potiphar had turned all authority over to Joseph and knew only that the food in his hand belonged to him.

2.       Pharaoh will do likewise, knowing only that the food in his hand belongs to him.

B.     Verse 41 - Pharaoh appoints Joseph over all the rest of the land of Egypt.

1.       Joseph was trained in the dungeon to be over all kinds of people.

2.       He will be over all kinds of people as he rules Egypt.


V.    The signs of Joseph's authority.

A.     He had Pharaoh's ring.

1.       This is the ring of authority.

2.       It is a signet ring which contained the symbol of Pharaoh.

3.       This symbol was placed on official documents to show the authority of Pharaoh was behind the document.

B.     Joseph's clothing.

1.       The saying "clothes make the man" may not be true in the strictest sense of the word, but there is some truth about it.

2.       Joseph wore the coat of colors at home which revealed his future position.

3.       Joseph wore the clothing of a slave when he served in Potiphar's house.

4.       Joseph wore the clothing of a prisoner when he served in the dungeon.

5.       Joseph now wears the clothing of second in command.

6.       Do we wear the clothing that shows the world we belong to Jesus, or do we wear the clothing of the world?

C.     The gold chain seems be a more general sign of authority.

D.     The second chariot.

1.       This was the second fanciest chariot in Egypt.

2.       The servants of Pharaoh were commanded to cry "bow the knee", so the Egyptians would recognize the authority of Joseph.  (It was Joseph's place to recognize the responsibility he had been given.)

E.      The establishing of social acceptability.

1.       The new name means "abundance of life", or "A revealer of secrets", or "the god speaks and he lives".

2.       The wife.

a.      Joseph marries an Egyptian, who is the daughter of the priest of On.

b.      They are not really worshippers of God, but they worship the sun god, Ra.

c.      This marriage will help Joseph to be accepted by the Egyptians.

d.      There is no mention made of the woman again.

e.      There is mention made of the two sons born to the union, who are named in honor of God.

f.       I would like to believe that Asenath became a worshipper of God because she agreed to the naming of the boys in honor of God.

F.      Verse 45 - Joseph's work begins.

1.       He began to go all over Egypt to survey just exactly what must be done.

2.       It is always good to begin where the work will be done instead of in the office, which is where the records will be kept.


VI.    The effect of all this upon Joseph.

A.     It doesn't seem that all this greatness had an adverse effect on him.

B.     Joseph's life had been filled with sorrow and difficulty.

1.       These things showed him that prosperity flees swiftly.

2.       He had learned the hard way not to depend on circumstances, but to trust in the living God.