Genesis 41 Commentary

Genesis 41 Commentary

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Chapter 41 is the largest chapter in Genesis in terms of size. Here we see Pharaoh dream. The dreams are interpreted. Joseph is appointed prime minister. The seven years of abundance come and are swiftly followed by seven years of famine. The chapter ends with Israel blessing the nations. The very last verse of 41 is the starting point – the blessing of the nations. But we have a lot of items in between.

Verse 1 begins by referring to the number of years it takes between the Cup bearer’s restoration and Pharaoh’s dreams. The period is a real test for patience and obedience. We really don’t know why but the LORD does take time. We actually feel for the innocent Joseph.

Pharaoh has dreams. Two dreams. No one can interpret them. The wisdom of Egypt fails. The magicians fail. The message of the LORD can only be interpreted by Joseph. He is the model of Christ. The LORD’S message to the world can only be interpreted by the real seed. It’s similar to the seals of Revelations. Only ONE can open them. So Joseph is quickly brought in, on recommendation from the Cup bearer.

Same man same answer – same humility. I cannot. Only God can. Joseph is incredibly humble and takes no glory for the gifting. I have noticed the differences between the Cup Bearer and Pharaoh. Pharaoh sees the LORD God behind the interpretation and moves quickly to install Joseph as prime minister. The Cup bearer only saw skill and any references to the actual gift giver was glossed over.

By appointing Joseph, Pharaoh has despised his own wise men with their wisdom and his own magicians – after all they failed. This Pharaoh is a man of faith. He knows the difference between his magicians and the God of Joseph. Could this be part of the reasons for the blessing – that the nations get to see the real object behind the blessing?

We have a well-defined point where the LORD begins to show us an important part of the Abrahamic blessing. Blessing the nations means saving the world from starvation but importantly it means the world getting to see and connect with the living and loving God. Through Joseph both are done. Pharaoh’s respectful attitude towards Joseph shows us the extent to which he appreciated what he called “the spirit of the gods” in Joseph.

“I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.”
Genesis 41:16 NIV. Joseph ensured that Pharaoh knows exactly who is going to provide the solution. On the basis of this solution provider, Joseph gets the top job in the land. How do we present our CVs today? Do we project the graces of God both in speech and action? Do we honor God when quizzed over our special abilities and qualifications?

Published by Joseph Malekani

Joseph Malekani is a born-again Christian with a strong PAOG/Baptist background. He is heavily involved in student ministry with ZAFES – an IFES movement with focus on student ministry in Zambia. He is married to Audrey and they have two lovely children.

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