|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
40:20-23 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.
Verse 20. - And it came to pass (literally, and it was, as Joseph had predicted) the third day (literally, in, or on, the third day), which was Pharaoh's birthday, - literally, the day of Pharaoh's being born, the inf. hophal being construed with an accusative (vide Gesenius, 'Grammar,' 143) - that he made a feast - a mishteh, i.e. a drinking or banquet (vide Genesis 19:3) - unto all his servants. "The birthdays of the kings of Egypt were considered holy, and were celebrated with great joy and rejoicing. All business was suspended, and the people generally took part in the festivities' (Thoruley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 62; vide Herod., 1:133: Ἡμέρην δὲ ἀπασέΩν μάλιστα ἐκείνην τιμᾶν νομίζουσι τῇ ἕκαστος ἐγένετο; and cf. Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:21). And he lifted up the head - here the one phrase applies equally, though in different senses, to both. A similar expression occurs in the annals of Assur-nasir-pal (Sardanapalus), column 2. line 43: "Their heads on the high places of the mountain I lifted up" ('Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 54) - of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants - literally, in their midst, as a public example.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday,.... The third day from the time the dreams were told, and the interpretation of them given, was the birthday of Pharaoh; either the day in which a son of his was born, or in which he himself was born, as Ben Melech observes; but the latter is more probable, since the former could not with propriety be called Pharaoh's birthday; and this might be either the day of his natural birth, or of his political birth, the time of his accession to the throne, which with the Romans was called "natalis imperii", and was observed with feasting and rejoicing (c), as well as the former, both among them and other nations: it is most likely this was Pharaoh's natural birthday, which was observed among the Egyptians as birthdays were among the Persians (d), and as Herod's was at his court in the days of Christ, Matthew 14:6; and as is usual in our times in most countries:
that he made a feast unto all his servants; his ministers of state, his courtiers, and all in his palace:
and he lifted up the head of his chief butler and of his chief baker,
among his servants; that is, among his servants, when their names were called over; or at this festival, these two were taken notice of, as being charged with crimes, and their cases were looked into and examined, and their heads were lifted up in a different sense: they were both lifted out of prison, but the one was lifted up to his former post and place in Pharaoh's court, and the other was lifted up to a gallows or gibbet, as follows; though perhaps this lifting of them both may only signify the trial of them, when they were set on high to be seen by the judge and all the court, see 1 Kings 21:9.
(c) Plin. Ep. l. 1. ep. 61. Herodot. Calliope, sive, l. 9. c. 109. (d) Herodot. Clio, sive, l. 1. c. 133.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20-22. it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday—This was a holiday season, celebrated at court with great magnificence and honored by a free pardon to prisoners. Accordingly, the issue happened to the butler and baker, as Joseph had foretold. Doubtless, he felt it painful to communicate such dismal tidings to the baker; but he could not help announcing what God had revealed to him; and it was for the honor of the true God that he should speak plainly.
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