Genesis 41:1 MEANING

Genesis 41:1


(1) Pharaoh dreamed.--After two years spent in the prison, the time has now come for Joseph's elevation to power; and it is to be noticed that this was not brought about by those arts by which men usually attain to greatness, such as statesmanship, or military skill; nor was it by accident, but according to the Biblical rule, by the direct intervention of Providence. Just as centuries afterwards, Daniel rose to high office at Babylon by God making known to him the dream of Nebuchadnezzar; so here, the transplantation of Israel into Egypt is brought about by the revelation to Joseph of "what was to be hereafter."

The river.--Heb., Yeor, the Egyptian word for "great river." It is the usual name in the Bible for the Nile, but is used for the Tigris in Daniel 12:5-6, and for any large river in Job 28:10. The Pharaoh in Those reign Joseph became governor of Egypt, is generally supposed to have been Apophis, the most famous of the shepherd kings. But Canon Cook, in his Essay, On the bearings of Egyptian History upon the Pentateuch, after carefully reviewing the whole subject, decides in favour of King Amenemha III., the greatest monarch of the noble twelfth dynasty, and the last king of all Egypt.

Verse 1. - And it came to pass at the end of two full years (literally, two years of days, i.e. two complete years from the commencement of Joseph's incarceration, or more probably after the butler's liberation), that Pharaoh - on the import of the term vide Genesis 12:15. Under what particular monarch Joseph came to Egypt is a question of much perplexity, and has been variously resolved by modern Egyptologists in favor of -

1. Osirtasen I., the founder of the twelfth dynasty, a prosperous and successful sore-reign, whose name appears on a granite obelisk at Heliopolis (Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 1:30, ed. 1878).

2. Assa, or Assis, the fifth king of the fifteenth dynasty of Shepherd kings (Stuart Peele in Smith's 'Bible Dict.,' art. Egypt).

3. Apophis, a Shepherd king of the fifteenth dynasty, whom all the Greek authorities agree in mentioning as the patron of Joseph (Osburn, 'Menu-mental History,' vol. 2. Genesis 2; Thornley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 42).

4. Thothmes III., a monarch of the eighteenth dynasty (Stanley Leathes in Kitto s 'Cyclopedia,' p. 744).

5. Rameses III., the king of Memphis, a ruler belonging to the twentieth dynasty (Bonomi in 'The Imperial Bible Dict.,' p. 488; Sharpe's ' History of Egypt,' vol. 1. p. 35). It may assist the student to arrive at a decision with respect to these contending aspirants for the throne of Pharaoh in the time of Joseph to know that Canon Cook ('Speaker's Commentary,' vol. 1. p. 451), after an elaborate and careful as well as scholarly review of the entire question, regards it as at least "a very probable conjecture" that the Pharaoh of Joseph was Amenemha III., "who is represented on the lately-discovered table of Abydos as the last great king of all Egypt in the ancient empire (the last of the twelfth dynasty), and as such receiving divine honors from his descendant Rameses" - dreamed. "For the third time are dreams employed as the agencies of Joseph's history: they first foreshadow his illustrious future; they then manifest that the Spirit of God had not abandoned him even in the abject condition of a slave and a prisoner; and lastly they are made the immediate forerunners of his greatness" (Kalisch.). And, behold, he stood by the river - i.e. upon the banks of the Nile, the term יֵלֺאר (an Egyptian word signifying great river or canal, in the Memphitic dialect yaro, in the Sahidic yero) being used almost exclusively in Scripture for the Nile (Exodus 1:22; Exodus 2:3; Exodus 7:15; Gesenius, 'Lex., p. 326). This was the common name for the Nile among the Egyptians, the sacred being Hapi (Canon Cook in 'Speaker's Commentary,' p. 485).

41:1-8 The means of Joseph's being freed from prison were Pharaoh's dreams, as here related. Now that God no longer speaks to us in that way, it is no matter how little we either heed dreams, or tell them. The telling of foolish dreams can make no better than foolish talk. But these dreams showed that they were sent of God; when he awoke, Pharaoh's spirit was troubled.And it came to pass at the end of two full years,.... It is not a clear case, as Aben Ezra observes, from whence these years are to be reckoned, whether from the time of Joseph's being put into prison, or from the time that the chief butler was taken out of it; the latter seems more probable, and better connects this and the preceding chapter:

that Pharaoh dreamed, and, behold, he stood by the river; it seemed to him, in his dream, as if he stood near the river Nile, or some canal or flow of water cut out of that river.

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