|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:1-19 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.
Verse 1. - And it came to pass (literally, and it was) after these things (literally, words, i.e. after the transactions just re. corded), that the butler - מָשְׁקֶה, the hiph. part. of שָׁקָה, to drink, signifies one who causes to drink, hence cupbearer (cf. ver. 11) - of the king of Egypt and his baker - the אֹפֶה (part. of אָפָה, to cook or bake) was the officer who prepared the king's food. The monuments show that the Egyptians had carried the arts of the confectioner and cook to a high degree of perfection (vide Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 27; Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:33-39, ed. 1878) - had offended (or sinned against) their lord (literally, against, the preposition being repeated) the king of Egypt - whom they had attempted to poison (the Targum of Jonathan), though this of course is only a conjecture in the absence of specific information.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass after these things,.... After Joseph had been accused and cast into prison, where he had been for some time:
that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt; committed some fault, at least were accused of one, which raised his displeasure at them. The Targum of Jonathan says, that they consulted to put poison into his drink and food; which, it is not improbable, considering their business and office, they might be charged with; at least it is much more probable than what Jarchi suggests, that the one put a fly into his cup, and the other a little stone or sand into his bread.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ge 40:1-8. Two State Prisoners.
1. the butler—not only the cup-bearer, but overseer of the royal vineyards, as well as the cellars; having, probably, some hundreds of people under him.
baker—or cook, had the superintendence of every thing relating to the providing and preparing of meats for the royal table. Both officers, especially the former, were, in ancient Egypt, always persons of great rank and importance; and from the confidential nature of their employment, as well as their access to the royal presence, they were generally the highest nobles or princes of the blood.
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