Genesis 40
Benson Commentary
And it came to pass after these things, that the butler of the king of Egypt and his baker had offended their lord the king of Egypt.
Genesis 40:1-3. We should not have had this story of Pharaoh’s butler and baker recorded in Scripture, if it had not been serviceable to Joseph’s preferment. The world stands for the sake of the church, and is governed for its good. Where Joseph was bound — That is, was a prisoner, as the word אסור is used, Isaiah 22:3; or had been bound, Psalm 105:18.

For being now made governor of the prisoners, he was doubtless made free from his bonds.

And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
Genesis 40:4-5. The captain of the guard — Namely, Potiphar, Genesis 37:36, who, probably being informed by his under-keeper of Joseph’s great care and faithfulness, began to have a better opinion of him, although for his own quiet and his wife’s reputation, he left him still in prison.

According to the interpretation of his dream — By Joseph. The dream and the interpretation answered each other.

And they dreamed a dream both of them, each man his dream in one night, each man according to the interpretation of his dream, the butler and the baker of the king of Egypt, which were bound in the prison.
And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.
Genesis 40:6. They were sad — It was not the prison that made them sad; they were pretty well used to that, but the dream; God has more ways than one to sadden the spirits of those that are to be made sad. Those sinners that are hardy enough under outward trouble, yet God can find a way to trouble them, and take off their wheels, by wounding their spirits, and laying a load upon them.

And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were with him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly to day?
And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
Genesis 40:8. Do not interpretations belong to God? — He means the God whom he worshipped, to the knowledge of whom he endeavours hereby to lead them. And if interpretations belong to God, he is a free agent, and may communicate the power to whom he pleases, therefore tell me your dreams.

And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;
And in the vine were three branches: and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes:
And Pharaoh's cup was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand.
And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:
Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, and restore thee unto thy place: and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler.
Genesis 40:13. Lift up thy head — Raise thee from thy state of dejection and sorrow, and advance thee to thy former dignity; for in this sense, the same phrase is used, 2 Kings 25:27, and <19B007>Psalm 110:7. The expression, however, may be rendered, shall reckon thy head, that is, thy name or person, namely, among his servants, which interpretation seems to agree better with the verse where the same phrase is used also of the chief baker who was hanged. It is supposed to refer to a custom which the kings of Egypt, and probably other governors observed, of having the names of all their servants called over on their birthdays, and at other set times; when such as were judged to be guilty of great crimes were struck off the list and punished, and the less guilty were pardoned, and if they had been imprisoned, were released and restored to their former trusts and offices.

But think on me when it shall be well with thee, and shew kindness, I pray thee, unto me, and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, and bring me out of this house:
Genesis 40:14-15. Think on me — Though the respect paid to Joseph made the prison as easy to him as a prison could be, yet none can blame him for being desirous of liberty. See what a modest representation he makes of his own case. He doth not reflect upon his brethren that sold him, he only saith, I was stolen out of the land of the Hebrews. Nor doth he reflect on the wrong done him in this imprisonment by his mistress, that was his prosecutor, and his master, that was his judge, but mildly avers his own innocence. Here have I done nothing, that they should put me into the dungeon — When we are called to vindicate ourselves, we should carefully avoid, as much as may be, speaking ill of others. Let us be content to prove ourselves innocent, and not fond of upbraiding others with their guilt.

For indeed I was stolen away out of the land of the Hebrews: and here also have I done nothing that they should put me into the dungeon.
When the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three white baskets on my head:
And in the uppermost basket there was of all manner of bakemeats for Pharaoh; and the birds did eat them out of the basket upon my head.
And Joseph answered and said, This is the interpretation thereof: The three baskets are three days:
Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.
And it came to pass the third day, which was Pharaoh's birthday, that he made a feast unto all his servants: and he lifted up the head of the chief butler and of the chief baker among his servants.
Genesis 40:20. He lifted up the head — Of these servants; took an account of them, examined their cases, and, either according to the merit of their cause, or through caprice, disposed of them as is here mentioned.

And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:
Genesis 40:21. Calmet has observed, that, as Joseph was a type of Christ, so these two officers of Pharaoh point out the two thieves between whom he was crucified; our Lord pardoning the one and condemning the other, as Joseph predicted the butler’s restoration to his office, and the baker’s execution.

But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.
Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Genesis 40:23. But forgat him — Being again possessed of the emoluments of his office, and enjoying the pleasures of the court, the kindness which Joseph had shown him in interpreting his dreams, as well as all the instruction and advice he had received from him respecting the true God and religion, vanished from his recollection: a specimen this of the friendship of the world, and a true sample of the disappointment which they will meet with who rely on it!

Benson Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

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