|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.
Verses 18, 19. - And Joseph answered and said (with what reluctance and pathos may be imagined), This is the interpretation thereof (the exposition was supplied by God, and, however willing or anxious Joseph might be to soften its meaning to his auditor, he could not deviate a hair's-breadth from what he knew to be the mind of God): The three baskets are three days: yet within three days - literally, in three days more (ut supra, ver. 13) - shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee (i.e. deprive thee of life, the phrase containing a resemblance to that employed in ver. 13, and finding its explanation in the words that follow), and shall hang thee on a tree - i.e. after decapitation (cf. Deuteronomy 21:22, 23; Joshua 10:26; 2 Samuel 4:12), which was probably the mode of execution at that time practiced in Egypt (Michaelis, Clarke, Keil, Murphy, Alford, Inglis, Bush), though some regard the clause as a description of the way in which the baker s life was to be taken from him, viz., either by crucifixion (Onkelos, Rosenmüller, Ainsworth) or by hanging (Willst, Patrick, T. Lewis), and others view it as simply pointing to capital punishment, without indicating the instrument or method (Piscator, Lapide, Mercerus, 'Speaker's Commentary'). And the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee. "The terror of approaching death would be aggravated to the poor man by the prospect of the indignity with which his body was to be treated" (Lawson).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Joseph answered and said,.... Immediately, directly, without any further thought and meditation, being divinely instructed:
this is the interpretation thereof; of the above dream:
the three baskets are three days; signify three days.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18, 19. Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation—The purport was that in three days his execution should be ordered. The language of Joseph describes minutely one form of capital punishment that prevailed in Egypt; namely, that the criminal was decapitated and then his headless body gibbeted on a tree by the highway till it was gradually devoured by the ravenous birds.
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