After Joseph was wrongly thrown in prison, he continued to do the best he could. One day while he was working, he saw two of the king’s servants—men who were in prison for suspicion of acting against the king. These servants were distraught because they each had a dream the night before but did not know the meanings.
Joseph was concerned about them, not just himself, and asked them what the trouble was. They explained their dreams to him. The butler, or cupbearer, of the king told his dream and Joseph said it meant he would be restored to his old job. The baker, thinking he may receive a favorable interpretation of his dream, explained his to Joseph. This time, however, the news was not good. The king would kill the baker in three days.
Joseph asked the butler to remember him. He wanted out of prison. Sadly, the butler forgot him.
The king of Egypt, Pharaoh, had two dreams in one night that scared him. He asked all his advisers what they meant, but none of them could tell him. Finally, after two years of forgetting about Joseph, the butler remembered him. He told the king Joseph could interpret his dreams.
After cleaning up to stand before the king, Joseph told him God is the one who interprets dreams.
Pharaoh told his dreams to Joseph who proceeded to interpret them with God’s help. He told the king seven years of good crops were coming followed by seven terrible years. He advised the king to store up grain in the good years so they could get through the bad ones. This impressed Pharaoh so much he elevated Joseph to second in the kingdom. Only Pharaoh was higher and had more authority than Joseph.
During the years of plenty, Joseph stopped counting the grain because it was so much. As prophesied, this lasted seven years and came to an abrupt halt. The famine set in and devastated the entire region.
The famine affected Canaan, where Joseph’s family lived. His father sent Joseph’s older brothers to Egypt to buy grain. When they appeared before Joseph they did not recognize them, but he recognized them. He spoke to them in Egyptian and used an interpreter, though he could still understand his brothers.
Joseph wanted to test their sincerity and see if they were still the same evil, selfish men he knew years ago. So, Joseph kept one brother, Simeon, in Egypt and told the rest to go back and return only if they brought Benjamin, Joseph’s younger and favorite brother.
The brothers later discovered that all the money they took to buy grain was in their grain sacks. This scared them because they thought the Egyptians looked at them as thieves, but it was Joseph who ordered this to be done.
Jacob resisted the brothers taking Benjamin to Egypt for fear that he would not return. The famine grew worse and the brothers refused to go get more grain without Benjamin. Jacob gave in and let his youngest son go.
When they returned to Egypt, Joseph continued to test their attitudes. He gave Benjamin more than the others at dinner. He also put Pharaoh’s cup in Benjamin’s grain sack without telling them. On their way home, Joseph’s servant overtook them and found the cup in Benjamin’s sack. The penalty was slavery.
The brothers were very upset and returned to plead for Benjamin. Judah offered himself in exchange for Benjamin. When Joseph heard this he could not contain his emotions any longer. He sent out all the Egyptians and revealed himself to his brothers. They were stunned and fearful. Joseph told them they had nothing to fear and understood that everything that had happened was at the hand of God. By Joseph being in his position, he was able to preserve the children of Israel during the famine.
Joseph did not take vengeance on his brothers or anyone else. With Pharaoh’s blessing and encouragement Joseph invited all of his family to move to Egypt. They were given the best of the land and settled there for about 400 years.
Lessons To Consider
1. They guilt of how Joseph’s brother treated him troubled them for many years (Gen. 42:21, 22). Do you think when we commit sin and do not correct it, it will bother us? Should it?
2. When Joseph was testing his brothers, was he being mean or trying to find out about their character? Why do you think he did this?
3. The real lesson of Joseph’s life is how God works things out. Did Joseph see this at the beginning?
4. Can we learn a lesson about God working with us? Could the difficult things we face be the way to grow and be useful to God and His people later? Should we grow bitter and quit?