So the Chief Cupbearer Told Joseph His Dream

40: 9-15

DIG: As interpretations of dreams belong to ADONAI, and as Joseph invites others to tell him their dreams, what does that tell you about Joseph’s abilities? About his relationship to God? What two ways did Joseph foreshadow the life of Christ?

REFLECT: What is your dream of the future? How good are you at waiting on the Lord’s timing? How many times have we all plunged ahead in the dark, only to find ourselves lost? Have you learned to wait?

So the chief cup-bearer told Joseph his dream. Probably he spoke first because he was confident of his own innocence and therefore was not hesitant to hear its significance.616 He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me” (40:9). God used a symbol that was familiar to him, and he saw all the stages of making grapes in quick succession. And on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes (40:10).

Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand (40:11). The kings of ancient Egypt drank only the fresh juice of the grape. The cultivation of the vine, and the making and drinking of wine among the Egyptians are well established beyond question.617 It was evidently a part of the duty of the chief cup-bearer to press the grapes into Pharaoh's cup, but it did not mean that no fermented wine was used.618

The chief cup-bearer's dream had a favorable interpretation. Joseph said to him, “This is what it means. The three branches are three days” (40:12). 39. Both Joseph and Jesus showed that they had knowledge of the future. Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position. The idiom lift up your head means to count. Pharaoh will number you again among his servants. And you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cup-bearer (40:13). So Jesus, the One whom Joseph foreshadowed, again and again, made known what would happen in the future. He said: For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent Me commanded Me what to say and how to say it (John 12:49). Not all the details of the dream are interpreted; only the basic point is made.

Joseph’s interpretation involves a striking wordplay that seems humorous (unless you’re the baker). He explained that the dreams meant Pharaoh would lift up the heads of both men (40:13, 40:19). In the case of the cup-bearer, this meant Pharaoh would symbolically lift up his head and restore him to his previous position of honor in the royal court.619

40. Both Joseph and Yeshua desired to be remembered. Yosef said: But when all goes well with you, remember meand show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison (40:14). So in connection with the last supper, the Savior said: Do this in remembrance of Me (Luke 22:19b).

However, the cup-bearer's good fortune didn’t do Joseph any good. Evidently his good fortune so overwhelmed him, that for two years he forgot his debt to Yosef. Knowing he was innocent, he waited for the LORD’s divine moment for him to explain his predicament and ask for help. And I’m glad he did, for it indicates that there’s a time to defend ourselves against false accusations – even though ADONAI is the ultimate vindicator. There’s also a time to ask someone to put in a good word for us even though we are trusting God with all our hearts to defend us.620

For I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon, or literally a pit (40:15). The word for a pit is the same word used for Joseph’s place of imprisonment at the hand of his brothers (37:20, 22, 28-29). The two events are parallel.

It is interesting to realize that Yosef was able to foresee the chief cup-bearer's day of deliverance, but he could not predict his own time of release. He is called to be patient, and to rest in ADONAI and His timing. As George Muller, the famous evangelist and philanthropist who cared for over a hundred thousand orphans in Bristol, England, once said, “You need never to take a step in the dark. If you do, you are sure to make a mistake. Wait, wait, wait until you have the light. Remind the Holy Spirit that He is the Counselor of the Church and He will direct you. And if you patiently wait, expectantly wait, you will find that the waiting is not in vain, and that the Holy Spirit will prove Himself a Counselor, both wise and good.”621


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