Genesis 40:1-23 Joseph – The Dream Interpreter

In this lesson, we see Joseph as a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, when he was actually crucified.  In this chapter, two of Pharaoh’s officers were imprisoned with Joseph.  They dreamed and Joseph interpreted their dreams.  After three days, one of them was restored to his office and the other was hanged.  Likewise, Jesus was crucified with two thieves (Is. 53:12 and Mk 15:27), one of whom got saved and came up with Jesus three days later (Eph. 4:8-10), while the other died hanging on a tree.  This is type # 48.


Now, there are some interesting things to study in this chapter regarding the occupations of the two officers, the word used for the prison, dreams in the Bible, interpretation of dreams, and the content of the dreams.


The Butler – He was Pharaoh’s “cupbearer” (Neh. 1:11; 2:1; and Gen. 40:11).  He was the governor of his feasts (Jn. 2:8-10) and thus one of his officers (Est. 1:7-8).


The Baker – He was head over the cooks, confectionaries and bakers (1 Sam 8:13).


These officers offended the king (v.1).  Given the strong connection to the crucifixion, where thieves were hung with Jesus, they probably stole from Pharaoh.  However, they may have done something less than that since it didn’t take much to offend a king.  Nehemiah was afraid for Artaxerxes to see him with a sad countenance (Neh. 2:2).  John the Baptist was imprisoned for reproving Herod’s unlawful marriage and lost his head simply because Herod’s step-daughter asked for it in a charger.


The ward – Another name for the prison where Joseph was held.  We still use a similar name to identify the head of the prison.  We call him the warden.


Dreams – Dreams were commonly a way for God to reveal himself, his purposes or the future to individuals before the words of God were written down.  Examples can be found in numerous places like Job 4:12-17; 33:14-17; Num. 12:6; Gen. 28:12-16; 15:12-16; 20:3; Matt. 1:20-21; and 2:12.


Interpreter of dreams – Joseph, as Daniel, made it clear that God was the only one capable of interpreting dreams (Gen. 40:8; 41:16; Dan 2:28, 47; 5:12).


Butler’s dream – The dream was simple with a simple interpretation.  In three days, the butler was to be restored to his office.  But notice what he said about his office. In v. 11, he talked of pressing grapes directly into Pharaoh’s cup.  This is fresh grape juice, called “new wine” in Is. 65:8, which is found in the cluster.  From this we can conclude that the “wine” at the Lord’s Supper was not fermented, since it is referred to in the gospels as “the cup” and the “fruit of the vine.”  Never is it called “wine.”


Baker’s Dream – This dream was likewise simple but with a bad interpretation.  In three days, the baker was to be killed.  The “bakemeats” are various kinds of breads and pastries.  The word “meat” was used in Gen. 1:30 to classify herbs and seeds and in Lev. 2:4-11, to describe things made out of flour.  The “fowls” are a common, negative reference to birds eating dead flesh (Gen. 15:9-11; 2 Sam. 21:8-10; Rev. 19:17-18).


The king’s birthday – The baker was hanged on Pharaoh’s birthday just like John the Baptist was beheaded on Herod’s birthday.  Moral: You’d better watch your neck if you are ever invited to a king’s birthday party.


The correct interpretation of the dreams became Joseph’s ticket out of the “dungeon,” but not until the King dreamed.  The Butler forgot to tell the king about his request (v.14-15).  This is just like Christians.  Jesus did something miraculous for us and as soon as we were out of the trap, we forgot to tell others what He did for us!!