Unfortunately, Joseph is still in prison where we left him last week. He had interpreted both the dream of the baker, who ended up being hanged, as predicted, and the dream of the cupbearer who was restored to his position, as predicted.
The last verse of this episode says:
The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. Gen. 40:23
What a bummer. Here Joseph predicted such hope for the cupbearer, then he gleefully goes right back to life as usual, leaving Joseph to continue languishing in the prison.
Worse yet, the very next verse in the next chapter says, “When two full years had passed…” You remember how these gaps always bring me to an absolute halt to ask, “What happened during those two years?”
I guess we can assume that Joseph continues to be the leader, so-to-speak, while the prison warden sits on his laurels. Day in and day out, same routine. But I ask myself, “What is Joseph thinking? Does he hold on to hope for a few days after the cupbearer leaves? When that doesn’t pan out, does he reason that it would take a little time to resume the routine in the palace and then the cupbearer will mention this amazing dream interpreter to the Pharaoh?
Does Joseph think. “Okay, maybe next month?” After six months go by, does he give up all hope? Does he feel abandoned? After a year, does he completely forget about it himself? Does it seem like it never happened?
Does Joseph interpret other dreams? Does he talk to other prisoners about his One-God. Does he maintain God-like attitudes? Does he pray?
Truth is, we simply don’t know, but likely he is learning that hard task of perseverance that I mentioned last week. I just want us to pause long enough to remember that day after day, Joseph is in the monotonous confinement of prison life. No TV, no cell phone to entertain him, no books to read, no games to play, very little conversation, just routine with one day looking like the day before, until:
When two years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: Gen: 41:1
Ah, yes, a dream—Joseph’s specialty! Here’s the dream:
[Pharaoh] was standing by the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. After them seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Gen. 41:2-4
That’s the first dream. With seven’s still on his mind, Pharaoh has a second dream.
Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. The thin heads of grain swallowed up the healthy, full heads. Gen. 41:5-7
Hmm. Seems to be a theme here. Well, the troubled Pharaoh sends for all his wise men to interpret his dreams, but they fail miserably. At last, the light bulb goes off in the cupbearer’s head. The time has come! The cupbearer says:
“Today I am reminded of my shortcomings…” Gen>41:9
The cupbearer proceeds to tell the whole story of the time when he and the baker were in prison and how Joseph accurately interpreted their dreams. That’s just what Pharaoh needs to hear.
So Pharaoh sent for Joseph. Gen. 41:14
Finally! Just what we have been waiting for.
Ever have that final breakthrough you’ve been hoping for? How you appreciate it after months or maybe years of praying and waiting. However, let us not forget the lessons Joseph learns in this waiting time—learning more leadership skills, dream interpretations, interaction with rough and tumble prisoner-types, and perseverance. Lessons for the next fourteen years.
Next week, to the palace!
~ Joyce ~