The imagery of Pharaoh’s dreams disturbed him. The civilization of Egypt was built on the Nile River. The river flooded annually, and deposited the sediment and soil onto the land needed for agriculture. If there was no or very little flooding, there would be famine. One dream was about livestock, the other about the harvest, but both had the same theme, and both used the number seven, which is a number of great significance to God. In both dreams the unhealthy version consumed the healthy version. The scrawny ugly cows ate the healthy cows, and the grain that was dried up by the desert wind swallowed the healthy grain.
Pharaoh’s magicians and wise men were pagan men, worshipping false gods and full of trickery. Interpretations belong only to the one true God. The cupbearer suddenly remembered Joseph, who had attended to him prison, showed him concern and compassion, and correctly interpreted his dream. It had been two years since then. Joseph only asked to be mentioned to Pharaoh, but the cupbearer did not do it. The shame of it came upon him. He admitted his fault, and told Pharaoh about Joseph, and how he correctly interpreted dreams of himself and the baker. Pharaoh was willing to talk to Joseph, considering his own resources had failed him.
Joseph was made presentable to the Pharaoh. All that time in prison had left him unkempt. Pharaoh told Joseph his circumstance. He did not ask for help, he only cautiously said he heard Joseph could interpret dreams. Joseph rightfully denied that he could interpret them, but gave the glory to God and expressed full confidence in him, without fear. Joseph was in the presence of a powerful man. If Pharaoh did not like the interpretation, or if he thought Joseph was lying, Joseph could have been thrown back into prison or executed.
The Pharaoh told his dream to Joseph, and reiterated that none of the magicians could interpret it. God gave Joseph the interpretation. Joseph spoke as a prophet. There would be seven good years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. The dream was given to Pharaoh to let him know that this was God’s will, without question. Joseph did not tell Pharaoh what he wanted to hear, but what God told him. Pharaoh was to choose a wise man to oversee the collection of one fifth of grain during the abundant years, and held in reserve for the time of famine. Joseph was not insinuating that he should be the one to be appointed. He was only speaking the word of God, and his humble spirit would not have permitted him to suggest such a thing to Pharaoh. However, the goodness and wisdom of God shone through Joseph, the way it had with his captain of the guard and in prison. The wise men and magicians of Egypt could not help Pharaoh, but God did, through Joseph. So Joseph was declared to be the most wise and discerning man, and exalted, to be second only to the Pharaoh.
Superstition and trickery can offer no truth in divine matters. God’s will may be revealed to us so that we may choose. This is the case of the Gospel. God has offered us his truth, that whoever repents and accepts Christ as savior will have eternal life. Whoever does not, will perish. God has firmly decided on this matter. It is a Christian duty to share this message, so that everyone will be confronted with God’s will, and be able to choose. Many “magicians” and “wise men” have tried to interpret the human condition but failed to answer life’s questions. None of them can solve the problems of evil and death. The only true answer is Christ, and that is our message. Even in the presence of powerful men, even facing those who can imprison us and take our lives, we must not cower from the truth of God. Whoever humbles himself before God will be exalted.