King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Genesis 41

Pharaoh’s dreams. (1-8) Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams. (9-32) Joseph’s counsel, He is highly advanced. (33-45) Joseph’s children, The beginning of the famine. (46-57)

Genesis 41 Audio:

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Pharaoh’s dreams

1 And it came to pass at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh dreamed: and, behold, he stood by the river.

2 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven well favoured kine and fatfleshed; and they fed in a meadow.

3 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them out of the river, ill favoured and leanfleshed; and stood by the other kine upon the brink of the river.

4 And the ill favoured and leanfleshed kine did eat up the seven well favoured and fat kine. So Pharaoh awoke.

5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good.

6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them.

7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.

8 And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof: and Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh.

Joseph interprets Pharaoh’s dreams

9 Then spake the chief butler unto Pharaoh, saying, I do remember my faults this day:

10 Pharaoh was wroth with his servants, and put me in ward in the captain of the guard’s house, both me and the chief baker:

11 And we dreamed a dream in one night, I and he; we dreamed each man according to the interpretation of his dream.

12 And there was there with us a young man, an Hebrew, servant to the captain of the guard; and we told him, and he interpreted to us our dreams; to each man according to his dream he did interpret.

13 And it came to pass, as he interpreted to us, so it was; me he restored unto mine office, and him he hanged.

14 Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they brought him hastily out of the dungeon: and he shaved himself, and changed his raiment, and came in unto Pharaoh.

15 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, I have dreamed a dream, and there is none that can interpret it: and I have heard say of thee, that thou canst understand a dream to interpret it.

16 And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.

17 And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, In my dream, behold, I stood upon the bank of the river:

18 And, behold, there came up out of the river seven kine, fatfleshed and well favoured; and they fed in a meadow:

19 And, behold, seven other kine came up after them, poor and very ill favoured and leanfleshed, such as I never saw in all the land of Egypt for badness:

20 And the lean and the ill favoured kine did eat up the first seven fat kine:

21 And when they had eaten them up, it could not be known that they had eaten them; but they were still ill favoured, as at the beginning. So I awoke.

22 And I saw in my dream, and, behold, seven ears came up in one stalk, full and good:

23 And, behold, seven ears, withered, thin, and blasted with the east wind, sprung up after them:

24 And the thin ears devoured the seven good ears: and I told this unto the magicians; but there was none that could declare it to me.

25 And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath shewed 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 sheweth 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.

Joseph’s counsel, He is highly advanced

33 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 shewed 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.

Joseph’s children, The beginning of the famine

46 And Joseph was thirty years old when he stood before Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from the presence of Pharaoh, and went throughout all the land of Egypt.

47 And in the seven plenteous years the earth brought forth by handfuls.

48 And he gathered up all the food of the seven years, which were in the land of Egypt, and laid up the food in the cities: the food of the field, which was round about every city, laid he up in the same.

49 And Joseph gathered corn as the sand of the sea, very much, until he left numbering; for it was without number.

50 And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him.

51 And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.

52 And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.

53 And the seven years of plenteousness, that was in the land of Egypt, were ended.

54 And the seven years of dearth began to come, according as Joseph had said: and the dearth was in all lands; but in all the land of Egypt there was bread.

55 And when all the land of Egypt was famished, the people cried to Pharaoh for bread: and Pharaoh said unto all the Egyptians, Go unto Joseph; what he saith to you, do.

56 And the famine was over all the face of the earth: and Joseph opened all the storehouses, and sold unto the Egyptians; and the famine waxed sore in the land of Egypt.

57 And all countries came into Egypt to Joseph for to buy corn; because that the famine was so sore in all lands.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. River; or the branch of the Nile which ran to Tanis, his capital. There were seven principal canals, and this was the most to the east, except that of Pelusium. C.

Ver. 2. Marshy. Heb. Achu; a word which the Sept. and Siracides (Eccli. xl. 16, ) retain. D.

Ver. 3. Very bank; to shew that the Nile had not inundated far, and that consequently a great famine would prevail, as the fertility of Egypt depends greatly on the overflowing of the Nile. “When the river rises 12 cubits, sterility pervades Egypt; when 13, famine is still felt. Fourteen cubits bring joy, 15 security, 16 delight. It has never yet been known to rise above 18 cubits.” Pliny v. 9.) This successive depression of the waters was an effect of God’s judgments, which no astrologers could foretel. T.

Ver. 5. Another dream of the same import, (v. 25,) to convince Pharao that the event would certainly take place, v. 32. Thus Daniel had a double vision, vii. 2. 3. — One stalk. It was of the species which Pliny (xviii. 10,) calls ramosum, branchy. What would strike Pharao the most was, that the last ears should devour the former ones. C.

Ver. 6. Blasted with the eastern wind, blowing from the deserts of Arabia. Ose. xiii. 15. M.

Ver. 7. Rest. Heb. adds, “and behold a dream” sent by God, like Solomon’s, 3 K iii. 15. The king’s mind was quite full of what he had seen.

Ver. 8. Interpreters: chartumim is probably an Egyptian word; denoting magicians, priests, and interpreters of their sacred books, hieroglyphics, &c. K. Ptolemy consulted them. Tacit. Hist. iv.

Ver. 9. My sin against your majesty, and my ingratitude towards Joseph. C.

Ver. 12. Servant. C. xxxix. 4. He waited also upon the prisoners of rank. C. xl. 4. H.

Ver. 14. Shaved him. The Egyptians let their hair grow, and neglected their persons, when they were in mourning or prison. But on other occasions they cut their hair in their youth. Herod. ii. 36. iii. 12. It was not lawful to appear in court in mourning attire. Est. iv. 2. Gen. l. 4. C.

Ver. 16. Without, &c. The interpretation does not proceed from any natural acquirement, but from God alone. Chal. T. — The Samaritan and Aquila read, “Without me God will not give,” &c. See Matt. x. 20.

Ver. 30. The land of Egypt, and the adjacent countries.

Ver. 34. Fifth part. This was a tax laid upon all the Egyptians, (C.) unless Pharao paid for what corn was laid up. H. — This quantity would be sufficient, as the people would be content with a smaller allowance during the famine; and the environs of the Nile would produce something, though not worth mentioning. C. xlv. 6. M.

Ver. 38. God. Heb. of the gods Elohim. Pharao was probably an idolater.

Ver. 40. Obey. Heb. Yishak; which may signify also “kiss” you, or their hand, in testimony of respect; or “shall be fed, governed, and led forth,” &c. He made him master of his house, and ruler, &c. Ps. civ. 21. Wis. x. 14.

Ver. 42. His ring, the sign of power. Thus Alexander appointed Perdiccas to be his successor. Curtius x. 5. Assuerus gave his authority to Aman and to Mardocheus. Est. iii. & viii. — Silk, or fine cotton; shesh (or ssoss). See byssus. Ex. xxv. 4. — Chain, with which the president of the senate in Egypt, or the chief justice, was adorned. The three chief officers among the Chaldees wore chains. Dan. v. 7, 16. C.

Ver. 43. Second chariot. On public occasions the king was followed by an empty chariot, (2 Par. xxxv. 24,) or the chariot here spoken of, was destined for the person who was next in dignity to the king. C. — That all, &c. Heb. “crying Abroc,” which Aquila explains in the same sense as the Vulgate. Others think it is an exclamation of joy, (Grot.) like huzza! (H.) or it may mean father of the king, or tender father. C. xlv. 8.

Ver. 44. Pharao, or the king. This is the preamble to the decree for the exaltation of Joseph, which subjected to him the armies and all the people of Egypt.

Ver. 45. The saviour of the world. Tsaphenath pahneach. Ch. — In the Coptic language, which is derived from the Egyptian, Psotemphane is said to mean the saviour of the world. S. Jerom supposed this word was not Hebrew; and therefore he added, in the Egyptian tongue, though he knew it might be interpreted in Hebrew “a revealer of secrets.” q. Heb. — Putiphare. Whether this person be the same with his old master, cannot easily be decided. Most people think he was not. See S. Chrys. 63. hom. — Priest. None were esteemed more noble in Egypt. — Heliopolis. Heb. On, “the city of the sun,” built on the banks of the Nile, about half a day’s journey to the north of Memphis.

Ver. 47. Sheaves. The straw would serve to feed the cattle, and would hinder the corn from spoiling for 50 years, if kept from the air. Varro. Plin. xviii. 30. C.

Ver. 51. Manasses. That is, oblivion, or forgetting. Ch. — Father’s house, or the injuries received from my brethren. H.

Ver. 52. Ephraim. That is, fruitful, or growing. Ch. — Being in the plural number, it means “productions.” — Poverty; where I have been poor and afflicted, though now advanced in honour. H.

Ver. 55. World. Round about Egypt; such as Chanaan, Syria, &c. M. — There was. The Syriac and some Latin copies, read not, &c.: there was a famine. We must adhere to the Vulgate and Hebrew.

Ver. 57. All provinces in the neighbourhood: for the stores laid up would not have supplied all mankind even for a few months. C.