WHEN PRESENTED WITH CHALLENGING TASKS
GENESIS 41;1-57 April 27 2008
Genesis 41 can be summarized in three words: mystery,
Sovereignty , and availability. The first word, mystery, is
portrayed by the emphasis on Pharaoh’s dreams. Pharaoh
dreamed about 14 cows coming up from the Nile River.
In pharaoh’s second dream he saw seven heads of grain,
"full and good, come up on one stalk". Then he saw seven
heads of grain, "thin and scorched," swallow up the good ones .
The aspect of sovereignty is seen in God’s aligning
Pharaoh’s need with Joseph’s gift. First, God’s sovereignty was
displayed by His preparation of Joseph as the only person able
to interpret Pharaoh’s dream.
The third word, availability, is portrayed in Joseph’s
willingness to tackle the task of organizing the Egyptians to
prepare for seven years of famine. He had them stockpile 20
percent of each harvest during the seven abundant years. These
stored gains proved adequate to feed the Egyptians and other
nations during the severe famine that followed.
1. Trust God’s Providence (Gen.41:1a,12-13)
Gen. 41:1 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a
dream: He was standing by the Nile, 41:12 Now 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. 41:13
And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us:
I was restored to my position, and the other man was hanged. ”
Out of the river there came up seven cows. Cattle often
submerged themselves up to their necks in the Nile to escape
sun and insects. Scorched by the east wind. The Palestinian
sirocco (in Egypt the khamsin), which blows in from the desert
(Hos 13:15) in late spring and early fall, often withers
vegetation (Isa 40:7; Eze 17:10). His mind was troubled.
(Gen.40:6-7). Magicians. Probably priests who claimed to
possess occult knowledge. No one could interpret them.
(Dan 2:10-11). Things turned out exactly as he interpreted
them. Because his words were from the Lord (Psalms 105:19).
2. Depend on God’s Guidance (41:15-16,28-30,32)
Gen. 41:15 Pharaoh 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.” 41:16 “I cannot do it,”
Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer
he desires.” 41:28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown
Pharaoh what he is about to do. 41:29 Seven years of great
abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 41:30 but
seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance
in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land.
41:32 The 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.
I cannot do it . . . But God will give Pharaoh the answer.
(Gen.40:8; Dan 2:27-28,30; 2Cor. 3:5). Seven years of famine.
(Acts 7:11). Long famines were rare in Egypt because of the
regularity of the annual overflow of the Nile, but not uncommon
elsewhere (2Kings 8:1). According to the NT, the great famine in
the time of Elijah lasted three and a half years (Jas 5:17), thus
half of seven years; it had been cut short by Elijah’s intercession
(1Kings 18:42; Jas 5:18). Repetition of a divine revelation was
often used for emphasis (Gen.37:5-9; Amos 7:1-6,7-9; 8:1-3).
3. Propose Solutions (Gen. 41:33-36)
Gen. 41:33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise
man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 41:34 Let
Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of
the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 41:35
They 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. 41:36 This 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
Joseph correctly foresaw that the food would be a reserve
stored during good times to offset the devastating effects of the
famine. the wisdom of Joseph’s plan was that the country would
not be wiped out by the famine, or literally "cut off". The great
emphasis on storing food over a seven year period and the statement
that the country will not be wiped out underscores the severity of
the famine Joseph anticipated. Only prudent measures during the
abundant years could avert a nationwide catastrophe.
4. Accept God-given Opportunities (Gen. 41:37-40)
Gen. 41:37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his
officials. 41:38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone
like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God ?” 41:39 Then
Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to
you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 41:40 You
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
In whom is the spirit of God. The word “spirit” should
probably not be capitalized in such passages, since reference
to the Holy Spirit would be out of character in statements by
pagan rulers. You shall be in charge. Pharaoh took Joseph’s
advice (Gen.41:33) and decided that Joseph himself should be
“ruler over Egypt” (Acts 7:10; Psalms 105:21). All my people
are to submit to your orders. More lit. “at your command all
my people are to kiss (you )”—i.e., kiss your hands or feet in
an act of homage and submission (Psalms 2:12 ).
Joseph willingly accepted the God-given
opportunity to serve Pharaoh and to save his people. He also
faced the challenging tack with great competence as measured
by his success. He embraced the difficult circumstances with
joy, as is revealed in his son’s names . The first he named
Manasseh, meaning "good has made me forget all my hardship
in my father’s house". The second he named Ephraim, meaning
"god has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction"