Genesis 41:8 MEANING

Genesis 41:8
(8) Magicians.--The word used here probably means the "sacred scribes," who were skilled in writing and reading hieroglyphics. But in ancient times the possession of real knowledge was generally accompanied by a claim to an occult and mysterious acquaintance with the secrets of the gods and of nature. And as the people regarded the knowledge which such scribes really possessed as more than human, the claim was easily maintained, or, rather, grew naturally out of the superstition of the multitude. So, too, the "wise men" were men educated and trained, but probably the profession of magic, of divination, and astrology was that which gained for them wealth and honour, and not the possession of whatever real science existed at that time in Egypt. We find, subsequently, even Joseph claiming the power of divination.

There was none that could interpret . . . --Probably many of the wise men made the attempt, but in such an imperfect manner as not to be able to satisfy Pharaoh's mind, or allay the excitement of his spirit.

Verse 8. - And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled; or, rather, his mind was agitated, ἐταράχθη ἡ χυχὴ αὐτοῦ (LXX.), pavore perterritus (Vulgate), the ruach being the seat of the senses, affections, and emotions of various kinds (cf. Daniel 2:1; Daniel 4:5, 19) - and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, - the חַרְטֻמִּים, from חָרַט (unused), to engrave, whence חֶרֶט, a stylus (Gesenius), or from חוּר, to see or explain, and טוּם, to conceal, i.e. he who explains hidden or mysterious things (Kalisch), were sacred scribes, ἱερογραμματεῖς, belonging to the priestly caste, who were skilled in making and deciphering the hieroglyphics. Besides figuring in the Court of Pharaoh (Exodus 7:11, 22; Exodus 8:3; Exodus 14:15) in the time of Moses, they recur again at a later period in that of the Babylonian monarch Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:20; Daniel 2:2) - and all the wise men thereof. The חֲכָמִים, from חָכַם, the primary idea of which is that of judging (Gesenius), were persons capable of judging, hence persons endowed with pre-eminent abilities for the prosecution of the ordinary business of life, the cultivation of the arts and sciences, the practice of divination, the interpreting of dreams, and other kindred occupations. They were the sages of the nation. And Pharaoh told them his dream; but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh. The magicians of Egypt were not so conceited as their Brethren in Babylon afterwards showed themselves to be, Daniel 2:4 (Lawson). That they could not explain the dream, though couched in the symbolical language of the time, was no doubt surprising; but "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God" (1 Corinthians 2:11), and they to whom the Spirit doth reveal them (1 Corinthians 2:10).

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 in the morning, that his spirit was troubled,.... With the thoughts of his dreams; they were uppermost in his mind; he was continually thinking of them; it was as if he had always the same images before him now awake, as well as when asleep, and therefore could not be easy without getting knowledge of the meaning of them:

and he sent and called for all the magicians of Egypt, and all the wise men thereof; who pretended to have great skill in the things of nature, and in astrology and other sciences, by which they pretended to know future events, and to interpret dreams among other things; and show what they portended, and what things would happen for the accomplishment of them:

and Pharaoh told them his dream; both his dreams, which for the similarity of them, and there being so little interruption between them, are represented as one dream; for that both were told them appears by what follows:

but there was none that could interpret them unto Pharaoh; they were nonplussed and confounded, and did not know what to say; the things were so strange and surprising that he related, that they could not offer any conjectures about them, or, if they did, they were very unsatisfactory to Pharaoh.

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