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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Genesis 41



Verses 1-4

Pharaoh's Dream- In this ancient world of agriculture and husbandry, cows would often wander into the Nile River in order to cool off from the heat and to ward off flies. Thus, the idea of cows coming up out of the river was a common sight. I have been on the Nile River as a missionary in Uganda and seen elephants cooling off and playing in this river.

Genesis 41:6Comments- Keil-Delitzsch note that the east wind would be the scorching wind that comes off of the Arabian desert to the east of Egypt. 249]

249] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Pentateuch, vol 1, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin, in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), comments on Genesis 41:1-6.

Verses 1-32

Pharaoh's Dream - The story of Pharaoh's dream and the interpretation by Joseph is found in Genesis 41:1-32. In this dream the Lord revealed to Pharaoh future events. We find a similar story in the book of Daniel when the Lord revealed to King Nebuchadnezzar by a dream the future periods of the Gentile nations.

Verses 8-14

Joseph is Summoned from Prison - In Genesis 41:8-14 we have the story of Joseph being summoned out of prison and into Pharaoh's court.

Verses 15-24

Pharaoh Describes His Dream to Joseph - In Genesis 41:15-24 we have the account of Pharaoh describing his dream to Joseph.

Verses 25-36

Joseph Interprets Pharaoh's Dream - In Genesis 41:25-36 we have the account of Joseph interpreting Pharaoh's dream. Note that the gifts of the Spirit, that Isaiah , the gifts of Revelation , are operate in Joseph's life in order to give this interpretation (see 1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Joseph operated in the gift of prophecy as he interpreted the dream. Then he operated in the gift of wisdom to explain what needed to be done as a result of the interpretation. Daniel operated in these same gifts in interpreting King Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In addition, Daniel also operated in the gift of a word of knowledge by recalling the details of the dream.

The Ancient Symbol of the Cow- Keil-Delitzsch note that in the interpretation of Joseph, the symbol of the Egyptian goddess Isis was the cow. Isis was the goddess of the earth, which sustained life. In Egyptian hieroglyphics, the symbol of the cow "represented the earth, agriculture, and food; and the Nile, by its overflowing, was the source of the fertility of the land." 250]

250] C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Pentateuch, vol 1, in Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, trans. James Martin, in P.C. Study Bible, v 31 [CD-ROM] (Seattle, WA: Biblesoft Inc, 1993-2000), comments on Genesis 41:1-36.

Genesis 41:30Comments- A seven year famine was also revealed to Elisha in 2 Kings 8:1. The ancient world understood the number seven as a sacred number; therefore, seven years of famine were a divine act of judgment.

2 Kings 8:1, "Then spake Elisha unto the woman, whose son he had restored to life, saying, Arise, and go thou and thine household, and sojourn wheresoever thou canst sojourn: for the LORD hath called for a famine; and it shall also come upon the land seven years."

Genesis 41:32Comments- A matter is confirmed in the mouth of two or three witnesses. When I was called to Africa, as a missionary, I received four similar dreams within a few weeks time, which were given to me to confirm this calling to the mission field. Note:

2 Corinthians 13:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."

Verses 37-45

Pharaoh Rewards Joseph - Genesis 41:37-45 gives us the account of Pharaoh rewarding Joseph for his interpretation of the dream and his wisdom in counselling the king. Thomas Constable tells us that it was not unknown for Pharaohs in Egypt to set unlikely individuals over governmental positions. 251] He quotes Henri Frankfort as saying:

251] Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Genesis (Garland, Texas: Sonic Light, 2000) [on-line]; accessed 28 December 2008; available from; Internet, 226.

"At any time the king would - and did - appoint outsiders. In fact, the noteworthy careers, as preserved for us in tomb inscriptions, broke through all departmental limitations. Men of humble origin could rise to the top once their gifts were recognized; and we find that they were called to a succession of posts which would seem to us to have required entirely different preparatory training." 252]

252] Henri Frankfort, Ancient Egyptian Religion: An Interpretation (Mineola, New York: Dover Publications, 2000), 35.

Illustration- In the African culture that I live in as a missionary, I see high-ranking members of the Presidential cabinet placed in these posts because an individual fought with the President in a war, or for other various reasons, while educational training for these particular posts was not a requirement. Promotions seems to be based more on relationships than on education and skills in such cultures.

Genesis 41:40Comments- Did Pharaoh not remember Joseph's former position or did Joseph just not mention this?

Genesis 41:42Comments- The garments of Joseph will play an important role in the life of this servant. He will remove the garments of a youth and put on a coat of many colors, which symbolizes a prince. When this garment is taken from him by his brothers, he will put on the garments of a slave. Then these garments will be taken from him by Potiphar's wife and he will put on the garments of a prisoner. Finally, he will be clothed with the garments of the Prime Minister of Egypt. Each time his garments were taken he had to forgive and forget. He did not long for the past, but looked to God to make a way for him in the future. Eventually, he realized that each time it was divine providence that caused his garments to be changed, and he became content wearing the garments and the ministry that God had placed him into.

Genesis 41:45Word Study on "Zaphnathpaaneah" - Gesenius says the name "Zaphnathpaaneah" ( צָפְנַת פַּעְנֵחַ) (H 6847) is of Egyptian origin, and believed to have the meaning, "salvation," or "savior of the age." John Gill says the Hebrews interpreted it to mean, "a revealer of secrets" (Jonathan), or "one to whom hidden things are revealed" (Onkelos). He tells us that the ancient Jewish rabbi Aben Ezra was not completely certain of this word's origin, whether it is Egyptian or Hebrew in origin. He says that some scholars suggest that the first part of this name is a reference to the Egyptian god Baal Zephon, referred to in Exodus 14:2. 253] Adam Clarke suggests that this was an "Egyptian epiteth" that designated Joseph's office rather than being a proper name of a person. He says that the word was used in a similar way to our compound terms such as "Prime-Minister, Lord Chancellor, High-Treasurer or Chief Justice." 254]

253] John Gill, Genesis , in John Gill's Expositor, in e-Sword, v 777 [CD-ROM] (Franklin, Tennessee: e-Sword, 2000-2005), comments on Genesis 41:45.

254] Adam Clarke, Genesis , in Adam Clarke"s Commentary, Electronic Database (Seattle, WA: Hendrickson Publishers Inc, 1996), comments on Genesis 41:45

Exodus 14:2, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they turn and encamp before Pihahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, over against Baalzephon: before it shall ye encamp by the sea."

Genesis 41:45 — "he gave him to wife Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On" - Comments- Joseph is a type and figure of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as Joseph was rejected by his brethren and took as his bride a Gentile, so did Christ Jesus receive the Gentiles as His bride when He was rejected and crucified by His people.

Verses 46-57

Joseph Ministers to the Egyptians During the Famine - In Genesis 41:46-57 we have the account of Joseph serving in his office as he faithfully ministered to the Egyptians.

Genesis 41:51Word Study on "Manasseh" - This name ( מְנַשֶּׁה) (H 4519) means, "causing to forget."

Illustration- When Menchu and I had our first child, it helped her to forget the sorrow that she had constantly dealt with from not having seen her family for several years.

Genesis 41:51Word Study on "toil" - Strong says the Hebrew word "toil" ( עָמָל) (H 5999) means, "toil, weary effort," thus, "worry, whether of body or mind." It is translated as "grievance (-vousness), iniquity, labour, mischief, miserable (-sery), pain (-ful), perverseness, sorrow, toil, travail, trouble, wearisome, wickedness." This word is used in Job 5:7. The verb form is used in Psalm 127:1.

Job 5:7, "Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward."

Psalm 127:1, "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain."

Comments- Joseph had felt all of these emotions in his life, yet never forsook his hope in the Lord.

Genesis 41:52Word Study on "Ephraim" - Strong says the Hebrew name "Ephraim" ( אֶפְרַיִם) (H 669) means, "double fruit."

Genesis 41:54Comments- Genesis 41:45 tells us that this famine was called by God to fulfil God"s purpose and plan for the people of Israel. This plan was for the nation of Israel to inherit the promised land of Canaan. Note Psalm 105:16.

Psalm 105:16, "Moreover he called for a famine upon the land: he brake the whole staff of bread."

Genesis 41:57Comments- Joseph was sent ahead of his family to prepare the way for the Hebrews to safely settle in Egypt ( Psalm 105:17).

Psalm 105:17, "He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant:"


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Genesis 41:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. 2013.

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Saturday, December 14th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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