because the Lord was with him; supplying him with his grace, giving him wisdom to do everything in the best manner committed to him, which caused the keeper of the prison to respect him as he did:
and that which he did the Lord made it to prosper; every method he took to secure the prisoners, every scheme he formed to bring them to confession of their crimes, or to clear those that were innocent; and every other thing relative to prison affairs, all through the good hand of God upon him, guiding, directing, and blessing him, succeeded well, which gained him the favour and good will of the keeper and the prisoners.
INTRODUCTION TO Genesis 40
The history of this chapter is, the imprisonment of two of Pharaoh's officers, his chief butler and chief baker, who by the captain of the guard were made the charge of Joseph, Genesis 40:1; they both dreamed in prison, which made them sad; Joseph taking notice of their sadness, asked the reason of it, and encouraged them to tell him their dreams, Genesis 40:5; the chief butler told his dream of the vine and three branches, which Joseph interpreted of his restoration to his office within three days, and desired him to remember him unto Pharaoh when he stood before him, telling him his case, Genesis 40:9; then the chief baker told his dream of three white baskets of food on his head, which the birds ate, and this Joseph interpreted of his being hanged within three days, Genesis 40:16; and the events answered to the interpretation, but Joseph was forgot by the chief butler, Genesis 40:20.
that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt; committed some fault, at least were accused of one, which raised his displeasure at them. The Targum of Jonathan says, that they consulted to put poison into his drink and food; which, it is not improbable, considering their business and office, they might be charged with; at least it is much more probable than what Jarchi suggests, that the one put a fly into his cup, and the other a little stone or sand into his bread.
against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers; for as there were several butlers and bakers that belonged unto him, who were employed in providing wine and food for him, there was one of each who was over the rest; and as their business was to see that those under them did their work well, when they were faulty the principal officers were answerable for it: wherefore, if in this case they had not been guilty of anything criminal themselves personally, yet they might have neglected to look after those that were under them, and so were culpable, and drew upon them the wrath and resentment of their lord and sovereign.
into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound; that is, where he had been bound, and where he was still a prisoner, though not fettered and in that close confinement he had been in.
and he served them; he ministered unto them, and brought them every thing they wanted:
and they continued a season in ward; or "days" (y); some certain days, many days, a year, as Jarchi and Ben Gersom interpret it, and which is sometimes the use of the word. The story of the butler and baker is told, partly to show the divine faculty of interpreting dreams Joseph was possessed of; and partly to observe the remarkable steps in Providence, though secret, towards his advancement in Pharaoh's court.
(x) "et commisit Josephum cum eis", Junius & Tremellius. (y) "per annum", Pagninus, Vatablus, Schmidt.
each man his dream in one night; which made it the more remarkable, and the more impressed their minds, concluding from hence there must be something of importance in their dreams:
each man according to the interpretation of his dream; they dreamed each what was suitable to his office and character, and which portended what should hereafter befall them, as the interpretation of them by Joseph afterwards, and the event showed; so that it was not a vain idle dream, but divine and certain:
the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison; this is added for explanation's sake, showing who were the persons spoken of that dreamed the dreams.
and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad; they looked sorrowful, dejected, and uneasy.
in the ward of the lord's house; this seems to confirm what is before observed, that the captain of the guard that charged Joseph with them was Potiphar his master; though indeed the keeper of the prison that was under Potiphar, the captain of the guard, might be called Joseph's lord or master, but the house could not with so much propriety be called his:
saying, wherefore look ye so sadly today? as they were officers, who had been in lucrative places, they lived well and merrily, and expected very probably they should be released in a short time, nothing appearing against them; but now there was a strange alteration in them, which was very visible to Joseph, and for which he expresses a concern, being of a kind, tender, and benevolent disposition, as the question he puts to them shows.
and there is no interpreter of it; in that place in which they were, the prison; otherwise there were persons enough in the land that pretended to the interpretation of dreams, Genesis 41:8; but they could not come at them, being in prison:
and Joseph said unto them, do not interpretations belong to God? that is, of dreams, and to him only, meaning the true God whom he worshipped; for as dreams themselves, which are of importance, and predict things to come, are of God; for none can foretell future events but he, and such to whom he imparts the gift of prophecy; so none can interpret dreams with any certainty but God himself, and those to whom he gives the faculty of interpretation of them; this Joseph said to take off their minds from the magicians and wise men, and interpreters of dreams among the Egyptians, these officers were hankering after, and wished they had them with them to interpret their dreams to them; and to suggest unto them, that though he did not arrogate such a power to himself, as having it of himself, yet intimates that he doubted not, but upon an address to his God, he would favour him with the interpretation of their dreams, and therefore encourages them to relate them to him:
tell me them, I pray you; or "now" (z), directly, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; signifying, that he would immediately interpret them to them; no doubt Joseph said this under a divine impulse.
(z) "nunc", Drusius.
and said unto him, in my dream, behold, a vine was before me; it appeared to him in his dream, as if a vine sprung up at once, and stood before him; which was very suitable to his office as a butler, wine being the fruit of the vine, which he provided for the king his master, and presented to him at table.
and it was as though it budded; the branches seemed to sprout out:
and her blossoms shot forth; it knotted, and the flowers of the vine appeared, which blowing off, the tender grapes were seen:
and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes; all which is agreeably to the order nature observes, from the first putting forth of the vine, to its producing ripe fruit; and which in this dream immediately followed one another, as it seemed according to the representation of things to the, mind of the butler, and which he perfectly remembered, it having made a strong impression upon him.
and I took the grapes; from off the vine that was before him:
and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup; which some think was the custom of those times, to take a bunch of grapes and squeeze them into a cup, especially when they would make trial of what sort of wine they would produce; for it can hardly be thought that this was usually done, or that it was customary to drink such new wine; but it is more probable that the grapes were first pressed into another vessel, and so made wine of, and then poured into Pharaoh's cup, or mixed in it, though this circumstance is omitted. Indeed Herodotus (a) relates of the Egyptian priests, that wine pressed out of the vine is given them:
and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand; as he had used to do.
(a) Euterpe sive, l. 2. c. 37.
the three branches are three days; signify three days, or, as Jarchi expresses it, are a sign of three days; which Joseph could know only by divine revelation; for there is no more likeness between branches and days, than between them and months or years, and bid as fair to signify one as the other, if the interpretation depended on similarity, or bare conjecture.
and restore thee unto thy place: to his office in ministering: to Pharaoh as his cup bearer:
and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler; which was signified in the dream, by squeezing the grapes into Pharaoh's cup he had in his hand, and gave unto him.
and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me; he pleads no merit for what he had done in interpreting his dream, but puts the good office he desires him to do for him upon the foot of kindness to a man in distress, and asks it as a favour, by way of entreaty and request:
and make mention of me and bring me out of this house: the prison in which he was; for though he had much favour shown him, and had more liberty granted him than other prisoners had, yet a prisoner he was, and a prison he dwelt in, and deliverance from it was desirable, could it be had; and this was a likely way to obtain it, if the butler would speak a good word for him to Pharaoh, which he would have an opportunity to do, being often in his presence, and frequently when cheerful.
and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon; since he had been in the land of Egypt, he had not been guilty of any criminal action wherefore he should be put into a prison, and especially into a dungeon, a dark and filthy place under ground, as dungeons usually were, and into which Joseph was put when first in confinement, though since took out of it: he makes no mention of the wickedness of his mistress, and of her false accusation of him, nor of the injustice of his master in putting him into prison without hearing him; only asserts his own innocence, which was necessary to recommend himself to the butler, that he might not think he was some loose fellow that was committed to prison for some capital crime, and so it would have, been a disgrace to him to have spoken for him.
he said unto Joseph, I also was in a dream; or had a dream, and in it things were represented to his mind as follows:
and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head; which were made of wicker, of rods that had the bark pulled off, and so were white; or which had holes in them, baskets wrought with holes, after the manner of network; though some think this denotes not the colour or form of the basket, but of the bread in them, and interpret the words, baskets of white bread, as Saadiah Gaon, and so the Targum of Jonathan, baskets of most pure bread, and the Targum of Jerusalem, baskets of hot bread; this dream was very agreeable to his office and business as a baker.
and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head; all the three baskets were upon his head, but this seems to be the uppermost, which the birds could more easily come at; though if the baskets were full of holes, they might through them peck the bread with their bills.
(b) Antiqu. l. 2. c. 5. sect. 3.
this is the interpretation thereof; of the above dream:
the three baskets are three days; signify three days.
and shall hang thee on a tree; his body after his head was severed from it, this should be hung upon a gallows or gibbet, and there continue:
and the birds shall eat the flesh from off thee; as they usually do when bodies are thus hung up, see 2 Samuel 21:9; this was signified by the birds eating the bakemeats out of the uppermost basket when upon his head, as it seemed to him in his dream.
that he made a feast unto all his servants; his ministers of state, his courtiers, and all in his palace:
and he lifted up the head of his chief butler and of his chief baker,
among his servants; that is, among his servants, when their names were called over; or at this festival, these two were taken notice of, as being charged with crimes, and their cases were looked into and examined, and their heads were lifted up in a different sense: they were both lifted out of prison, but the one was lifted up to his former post and place in Pharaoh's court, and the other was lifted up to a gallows or gibbet, as follows; though perhaps this lifting of them both may only signify the trial of them, when they were set on high to be seen by the judge and all the court, see 1 Kings 21:9.
(c) Plin. Ep. l. 1. ep. 61. Herodot. Calliope, sive, l. 9. c. 109. (d) Herodot. Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 133.
and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand; ministered to him in his office the same day, according to his dream and the interpretation of it: the Targum of Jonathan adds this as a reason of his being restored,"because he found that he was not in that counsel,''in which it was consulted to poison Pharaoh; see Gill on Genesis 40:1.
as Joseph had interpreted to them; the events as to both answered to the interpretation Joseph had given of their several dreams.