by Muriel Stern
“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream” (Gen. 41:1)
With these words we start this week’s Torah portion. Two full years had passed since the cupbearer and the baker had dreamed their dreams. What Joseph had told them about their dreams had all come true. But the cupbearer had not remembered Joseph and he’d remained in prison.
Two full years passed. And now Pharaoh had a dream. The Pharaoh’s mind was troubled but no one in Egypt could explain his dreams. This was when the cupbearer remembered Joseph. Quickly Joseph was brought from prison and taken to the Pharaoh. Just like with the dreams from the cupbearer and the baker, Joseph didn’t take any credit but pointed out that the interpretation of dreams belongs to God, He will provide the answers.
“It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. The abundance in the land will not be remembered because the famine that follows it will be so severe. The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon.” (Gen.41:28-32)
Thirteen years earlier Joseph had dreamt his dream, also in two forms. Joseph, the son of Jacob, who had dreamt a very special dream at Beth El himself. His grandfather Isaac had been giving special promises from the Lord, as had Great Grandfather Abraham. God had proven to be faithful throughout the generations.
Thirteen years is a long time from the time that Joseph had his dreams as a young man. Did he still believe God was faithful? Did it encourage him to see that the dreams of the cupbearer and the baker came true? And what about the dreams that God gave to Pharaoh, did they make him feel that the Lord forgot about him or did it gave him hope?
Pharaoh decided to put Joseph in charge of all of Egypt. He made Joseph his right-hand man, only outranked by Pharaoh himself. Joseph got married and has two children. After seven years of abundance, the famine began, just as Joseph had said. But the famine was not just in Egypt, it was severe everywhere, also in Canaan.
And before not too long, Jacob decided to send his sons to Egypt, to go buy grain. Except for Benjamin, his youngest son, because he was afraid that harm might come to him (Gen 42:4). The ten brothers got to Egypt and bowed down before the man in charge. Joseph recognized his brothers but they did not recognize Joseph. And Joseph remembered his dreams from long ago.
Twenty years had passed from when Joseph had his dreams. Twenty years from when his father rebuked him. Twenty years!
It seemed like Joseph had given up hope of ever seeing his family again, let alone have them bow down before him. God spoke to the cupbearer and the baker and it comes true. God spoke to Pharaoh. But what God had shown Joseph so long ago must have been a fragment of his own imagination. The names he gave his sons show us a bit of how he felt: his first-born, Manasseh;
“It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” (Gen. 41:51)
and his younger son Ephraim;
“It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Gen.41:52)
But despite is feelings, here after so many years are his brothers, and they do bow down to him.
God is faithful. But just like in the life of Joseph it might feel like God has forgotten about us, about the promises He made us, about the dreams He has given us. I hope that the story of Joseph encourages you. Even when the wait is long, God is faithful. Even when others get their answers sooner, God is faithful. Even when God reveals himself to ‘unbelievers’, He is always faithful and will do what He has promised.
About Muriel Stern
Muriel Stern has a lifelong love affair with words, specifically with the Word. It is her hope that with her writing she does honor to the Author and inspires others to fall head over heels for the Creator as well. Muriel & her husband Daniel reside in the City of the Great King. Their four children love books as much as their parents.