Thursday, July 19:
Genesis Chapter 40
Here’s the Elohist’s version of the same tale. It’s not just the naming of God as Elohim rather than Jahweh, but the use of dreams as intermediaries of divine presence and revelation, that signals the difference. Here, Yosef is less of a success in Egypt or in prison – but a seer for fellow prisoners’ dreams, and a person at risk of the same arbitrary fates and tyrannies which befall the baker and cupbearer of the Pharaoh. My people take care of their working class and civil service peers from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, and our friendships and loyalties serve us well, in narratives like the Elohist’s. Do you ever interpret meaning and purpose to your colleagues in the world?
Genesis Chapter 40
Some time after this, the cupbearer of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord the king of Egypt. 2Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3and he put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the prison where Joseph was confined. 4The captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he waited on them; and they continued for some time in custody.
5One night they both dreamed—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were confined in the prison—each his own dream, and each dream with its own meaning. 6When Joseph came to them in the morning, he saw that they were troubled. 7So he asked Pharaoh’s officers, who were with him in custody in his master’s house, ‘Why are your faces downcast today?’ 8They said to him, ‘We have had dreams, and there is no one to interpret them.’ And Joseph said to them, ‘Do not interpretations belong to God? Please tell them to me.’
9 So the chief cupbearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, ‘In my dream there was a vine before me, 10and on the vine there were three branches. As soon as it budded, its blossoms came out and the clusters ripened into grapes. 11Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand.’
12Then Joseph said to him, ‘This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days; 13within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your office; and you shall place Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.14But remember me when it is well with you; please do me the kindness to make mention of me to Pharaoh, and so get me out of this place. 15For in fact I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews; and here also I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon.’
16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was favourable, he said to Joseph, ‘I also had a dream: there were three cake baskets on my head, 17and in the uppermost basket there were all sorts of baked food for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating it out of the basket on my head.’
18And Joseph answered, ‘This is its interpretation: the three baskets are three days; 19within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head—from you!—and hang you on a pole; and the birds will eat the flesh from you.’
20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and lifted up the head of the chief cupbearer and the head of the chief baker among his servants. 21He restored the chief cupbearer to his cupbearing, and he placed the cup in Pharaoh’s hand, 22but the chief baker he hanged, just as Joseph had interpreted to them.
23Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.