Genesis 40

1 After these things, the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker offended their lord, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officers, the chief cup bearer and the chief baker. 3 He put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he took care of them. They stayed in prison many days. 5 They both dreamed a dream, each man his dream, in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the cup bearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were bound in the prison. 6 Joseph came in to them in the morning, and saw them, and saw that they were sad. 7 He asked Pharaoh’s officers who were with him in custody in his master’s house, saying, “Why do you look so sad today?” 8 They said to him, “We have dreamed a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it.” Joseph said to them, “Don’t interpretations belong to God? Please tell it to me.” 9 The chief cup bearer told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, “In my dream, behold, a vine was in front of me, 10 and in the vine were three branches. It was as though it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters produced ripe grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand; and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh’s cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand.” 12 Joseph said to him, “This is its interpretation: the three branches are three days. 13 Within three more days, Pharaoh will lift up your head, and restore you to your office. You will give Pharaoh’s cup into his hand, the way you did when you were his cup bearer. 14 But remember me when it will be well with you, and please show kindness to me, and make mention of me to Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house. 15 For indeed, I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews, and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.” 16 When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said to Joseph, “I also was in my dream, and behold, three baskets of white bread were on my head. 17 In the uppermost basket there were all kinds of baked food for Pharaoh, and the birds ate them out of the basket on my head.” 18 Joseph answered, “This is its interpretation. The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three more days, Pharaoh will lift up your head from off you, and will hang you on a tree; and the birds will eat your flesh from off you.” 20 On the third day, which was Pharaoh’s birthday, he made a feast for all his servants, and he lifted up the head of the chief cup bearer and the head of the chief baker amongst his servants. 21 He restored the chief cup bearer to his position again, and he gave the cup into Pharaoh’s hand; 22 but he hanged the chief baker, as Joseph had interpreted to them. 23 Yet the chief cup bearer didn’t remember Joseph, but forgot him.

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Questions about today’s reading? See if Matthew Henry can help.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, 1706

Verses 1–19

It was not so much the prison that made the butler and baker sad, as their dreams. God has more ways than one to sadden the spirits. Joseph had compassion towards them. Let us be concerned for the sadness of our brethren’s countenances. It is often a relief to those that are in trouble to be noticed. Also learn to look into the causes of our own sorrow. Is there a good reason? Is there not comfort sufficient to balance it, whatever it is? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? Joseph was careful to ascribe the glory to God. The chief butler’s dream foretold his advancement. The chief baker’s dream his death. It was not Joseph’s fault that he brought the baker no better tidings. And thus ministers are but interpreters; they cannot make the thing otherwise than it is: if they deal faithfully, and their message prove unpleasing, it is not their fault. Joseph does not reflect upon his brethren that sold him; nor does he reflect on the wrong done him by his mistress and his master, but mildly states his own innocence. When we are called on to clear ourselves, we should carefully avoid, as much as may be, speaking ill of others. Let us be content to prove ourselves innocent, and not upbraid others with their guilt.

Verses 20–23

Joseph’s interpretation of the dreams came to pass on the very day fixed. On Pharaoh’s birth-day, all his servants attended him, and then the cases of these two came to be looked into. We may all profitably take notice of our birth-days, with thankfulness for the mercies of our birth, sorrow for the sinfulness of our lives, and expectation of the day of our death, as better than the day of our birth. But it seems strange that worldly people, who are so fond of living here, should rejoice at the end of one year after another of their short span of life. A Christian has cause to rejoice that he was born, also that he comes nearer to the end of his sin and sorrow, and nearer to his everlasting happiness. The chief butler remembered not Joseph, but forgot him. Joseph had deserved well at his hands, yet he forgot him. We must not think it strange, if in this world we have hatred shown us for our love, and slights for our kindness. See how apt those who are themselves at ease are to forget others in distress. Joseph learned by his disappointment to trust in God only. We cannot expect too little from man, nor too much from God. Let us not forget the sufferings, promises, and love of our Redeemer. We blame the chief butler’s ingratitude to Joseph, yet we ourselves act much more ungratefully to the Lord Jesus. Joseph had but foretold the chief butler’s enlargement, but Christ wrought out ours; he mediated with the King of Kings for us; yet we forget him, though often reminded of him, and though we have promised never to forget him. Thus ill do we requite Him, like foolish people and unwise.

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