Genesis Chapter 41 to 42 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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Pharaoh’s Dreams

41 Two years later, Pharaoh had a dream. He dreamed that he was standing by the Nile River. 2In the dream, seven cows come out of the river and stood there eating grass. They were healthy, good-looking cows. 3Then seven more cows came out of the river and stood on the bank of the river by the healthy cows. But these cows were thin and sick looking. 4The seven sick cows ate the seven healthy cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 5Pharaoh went back to sleep and began dreaming again. This time, he dreamed that he saw seven heads of grain growing on one plant. They were healthy and full of grain. 6And then he saw seven more heads of grain sprouting. But they were thin and scorched by the hot wind. 7The thin heads of grain ate the seven good heads of grain. Then Pharaoh woke up again and realized it was only a dream. 8The next morning Pharaoh was worried about these dreams. So he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told these men the dreams, but none of them could interpret the dreams.

The Servant Tells Pharaoh About Joseph

9Then the wine servant remembered Joseph. The servant said to Pharaoh, “I remember something that happened to me. 10You were angry with me and the baker, and you put us in prison. 11Then one night he and I had a dream. Each dream had a different meaning. 12There was a young Hebrew man in prison with us. He was a servant of the commander of the guards. We told him our dreams, and he explained them to us. He told us the meaning of each dream. 13And what he said came true. He said I would be free and have my old job back. And that happened. He also said the baker would die, and that happened!”

Joseph Is Called to Interpret the Dreams

14So Pharaoh called Joseph from the prison. The guards quickly got Joseph out of prison. Joseph shaved and put on some clean clothes. Then he went to see Pharaoh. 15Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream. But no one can interpret the dream for me. I heard that you can interpret dreams when someone tells you about them.” 16Joseph answered, “I can’t! But maybe God will explain them for you, Pharaoh.” 17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream, I was standing by the Nile River. 18Then seven cows came up out of the river and stood there eating the grass. They were healthy, good-looking cows. 19Then I saw seven more cows come out of the river after them. But these cows were thin and sick looking. They were the worst cows I had ever seen anywhere in Egypt! 20Then the thin, sick cows ate the first healthy cows! 21But they still looked thin and sick. You couldn’t even tell they had eaten the healthy cows. They looked as thin and sick as they did in the beginning. Then I woke up. 22“In my next dream I saw seven heads of grain growing on one plant. They were healthy and full of grain. 23And then seven more heads of grain grew after them. But they were thin and scorched by the hot wind. 24Then the thin heads of grain ate the seven good heads of grain. “I told these dreams to my magicians. But no one could explain the dreams to me. What do they mean?”

Joseph Explains the Dream

25Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “These two dreams are about the same thing. God is telling you what will happen soon. 26Both dreams really mean the same thing. The seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain are seven {good} years. 27And the seven thin, sick-looking cows and the seven thin heads of grain mean that there will be seven years of hunger in this area. These seven bad years will come after the seven good years. 28God has shown you what will happen soon. And God will make these things happen just like I told you. 29For seven years there will be plenty of food in Egypt. 30But then there will be seven years of hunger. People in Egypt will forget how much food there had been in the past. This famine* will ruin the country. 31People will forget what it was like to have plenty of food. 32“Pharaoh, you had two dreams about the same thing. Why? God wanted to show you that he really will make this happen. And he will make it happen soon! 33So Pharaoh, you should choose a wise, intelligent man and put him in charge of Egypt. 34Then you should choose other men to collect food from the people. During the seven good years, the people must give them one fifth of all the food they grow. 35In this way, these men will collect lots of food during the seven good years and store it in the cities until it is needed. In this way, Pharaoh, this food will be under your control. 36Then during the seven years of hunger, there will be food for the country of Egypt. And Egypt will not be destroyed by the famine.” 37This seemed like a very good idea to Pharaoh, and all his officials agreed. 38Then Pharaoh told them, “I don’t think we can find anyone better than Joseph to take this job! God’s Spirit is in him making him very wise!” 39So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “God showed these things to you, so you must be the wisest man. 40I will put you in charge of my country, and the people will obey all your commands. I will be the only person more powerful than you.” 41{There was a special ceremony and parade when Pharaoh made Joseph the governor.} Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I now make you governor over all of Egypt.” 42Then Pharaoh gave his special ring to Joseph. The royal seal was on this ring. Pharaoh also gave Joseph a fine linen robe and put a gold chain around his neck. 43Pharaoh told Joseph to ride in the second chariot {in the parade}. Special guards walked ahead of Joseph’s chariot and told the people, “Bow down to Joseph.” So Joseph became the governor over all of Egypt. 44Pharaoh said to him, “I am Pharaoh, the king, {so I will do what I want to do}. But no other person in Egypt can lift a hand or move a foot unless you say he can.” 45Pharaoh gave Joseph another name, Zaphenath Paneah.* Pharaoh also gave Joseph a wife named Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, a priest in the city of On. So Joseph became the governor over the whole country of Egypt. 46Joseph was 30 years old when he began serving the king of Egypt. Joseph traveled throughout the country of Egypt. 47During the seven good years, the crops in Egypt grew very well. 48And Joseph saved the food in Egypt during those seven years. Joseph stored the food in the cities. In every city, Joseph stored grain that grew in the fields around the city. 49Joseph stored very much grain. It was like the sands of the sea. He stored so much grain that it could not be measured. 50Joseph’s wife was Asenath. She was the daughter of Potiphera, the priest in the city of On. Before the first year of hunger came, Joseph and Asenath had two sons. 51The first son was named Manasseh.* Joseph named him this because Joseph said, “God made me forget all of the troubles I have had, and everything about my home.” 52Joseph named the second son Ephraim.* Joseph gave him this name because Joseph said, “I had great troubles, but God has made me successful in everything.”

The Time of Hunger Begins

53For seven years, people had all the food they needed. But then those years ended. 54And the seven years of hunger began, just like Joseph had said. No food grew anywhere in any of the countries in that area. But in Egypt, people had plenty to eat! Why? Because Joseph had stored the grain. 55The time of hunger began, and the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Pharaoh said to the Egyptian people, “Go ask Joseph what to do.” 56There was famine* everywhere, so Joseph gave the people grain from the warehouses. Joseph sold the stored grain to the people of Egypt. The famine was bad in Egypt. 57But the famine was bad everywhere! So people from the countries around Egypt had to come to Egypt to buy grain.

famine A time when there is no rain and no crops can grow. People and animals often die from lack of food and water. Zaphenath Paneah This Egyptian name probably means “sustainer of life,” but it is like Hebrew words meaning “a person who explains secret things.” Manasseh This is like the Hebrew word meaning “to forget.” Ephraim This is like the Hebrew word meaning “twice fruitful.”

The Dreams Come True

42 {The famine* was also bad in Canaan.} But Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt. So Jacob said to his sons, “Why are we sitting here doing nothing? 2I heard there is grain in Egypt for sale. So let’s go there to buy grain. Then we can live instead of just letting ourselves die!” 3So ten of Joseph’s brothers went to Egypt to buy grain. 4Jacob did not send Benjamin. (Benjamin was Joseph’s only full brother.*) Jacob was afraid that something bad might happen to Benjamin. 5The famine was very bad in Canaan, so there were many people from Canaan who went to Egypt to buy grain. Among them were the sons of Israel. 6Joseph was the governor of Egypt at the time. And Joseph was the man who checked the sale of grain to people who came to Egypt. So, Joseph’s brothers came to him and bowed before him. 7Joseph saw his brothers. Joseph recognized them, but he acted like he didn’t know them. He was rude when he spoke to them. He said, “Where do you come from?” The brothers answered, “We come from the land of Canaan. We have come here to buy food.” 8Joseph knew that these men were his brothers. But they did not know who he was. 9And Joseph remembered the dreams that he had dreamed about his brothers.

Joseph Calls His Brothers Spies

Joseph said to his brothers, “You have not come to buy food! You are spies. You came to learn where we are weak.” 10But the brothers said to him, “No, sir! We come as your servants. We have come only to buy food. 11We are all brothers—we all have the same father. We are honest men. We have come only to buy food.” 12Then Joseph said to them, “No! You have come to learn where we are weak.” 13And the brothers said, “No! We are all brothers. There are twelve brothers in our family. We all have the same father. Our youngest brother is still at home with our father. And the other brother died a long time ago. We are like servants before you. We are from the land of Canaan.” 14But Joseph said to them, “No! I can see I am right. You are spies. 15But I will let you prove that you are telling the truth. In the name of Pharaoh, I swear that I won’t let you go until your youngest brother comes here. 16I’ll let one of you go back and bring your youngest brother here to me while the others will stay here in prison. We will see if you are telling the truth. But I believe you are spies.” 17Then Joseph put them all in prison for three days.

Simeon Kept as a Hostage

18After three days, Joseph said to them, “I am a God-fearing man! Do this, and I will let you live. 19If you are really honest men, then one of your brothers can stay here in prison. And the others can go and carry grain back to your people. 20But then you must bring your youngest brother back here to me. Then I will know that you are telling the truth and you won’t have to die.” The brothers agreed to this. 21They said to each other, “We are being punished for the bad thing we did to our younger brother Joseph. We saw the trouble he was in. He begged us to save him. But we refused to listen. So now we are in trouble.” 22Then Reuben said to them, “I told you not to do anything bad to that boy. But you refused to listen to me. So now we are being punished for his death.” 23Joseph was using an interpreter to talk to his brothers. So the brothers did not know that Joseph understood their language. But Joseph heard and understood everything they said. 24{Their words made Joseph very sad.} So Joseph left them and cried. After a short time, Joseph went back to them. He took Simeon, one of the brothers, and tied him while the other brothers watched. 25Joseph told some servants to fill their bags with grain. The brothers gave Joseph the money for this grain. But Joseph didn’t keep the money. He put the money in their bags of grain. Then Joseph gave them things they would need for their trip back home. 26So the brothers put the grain on their donkeys and left. 27That night the brothers stopped at a place to spend the night. One of the brothers opened his sack to get some grain for his donkey. And there in the sack, he saw his money! 28He said to the other brothers, “Look! Here is the money I paid for the grain. Someone put the money back in my sack!” The brothers were very scared. They said to one another, “What is God doing to us?”

The Brothers Report to Jacob

29The brothers went back to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. They told Jacob about everything that had happened. 30They said, “The governor of that country spoke rudely to us. He thought that we were spies! 31But we told him that we weren’t spies, we were honest men! 32We told him that we were twelve brothers. We told him about our father, and we told him about our youngest brother who was still at home in Canaan. 33“Then the governor of that country said this to us, ‘Here is a way to prove that you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me. Take your grain back to your families. 34Then bring your youngest brother to me. Then I will know if you are honest men, or if you were sent from an army to destroy us. If you are telling the truth, I will give your brother back to you. I will give him to you, and you will be free to buy grain in our country.’” 35Then the brothers started taking the grain out of their sacks. And every brother found his bag of money in his sack of grain. The brothers and their father saw the money and they were scared. 36Jacob said to them, “Do you want me to lose all of my children? Joseph is gone. Simeon is gone. And now you want to take Benjamin away too!” 37But Reuben said to his father, “Father, you may kill my two sons if I don’t bring Benjamin back to you. Trust me. I will bring Benjamin back to you.” 38But Jacob said, “I will not let Benjamin go with you. His brother is dead, and he is the only son left from my wife Rachel. It would kill me if anything happened to him during the trip to Egypt. You would send me to the grave* a very sad, old man.”

famine A time when there is no rain and no crops can grow. People and animals often die from lack of food and water. full brother Literally, “brother.” Joseph and Benjamin had the same mother. grave Literally, “Sheol,” the place for people after death.

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