Genesis 40:19
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.
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(19) Shall Pharaoh lift up thy head from off thee.—In Genesis 40:13 the lifting up of the butler’s head meant his elevation to his former rank. Here there is the significant addition “from off thee,” implying that he would be beheaded, and his body publicly exposed to ignominy.

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.The chief baker is encouraged by this interpretation to tell his dream. "I also." He anticipates a favorable answer, from the remarkable likeness of the dreams. "On my head." It appears from the monuments of Egypt that it was the custom for men to carry articles on their heads. "All manner of baked meats" were also characteristic of a corn country. "Lift up thy head from upon thee." This part of the interpretation proves its divine origin. And hang thee - thy body, after being beheaded. This was a constant warning to all beholders.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. From off thee. This clause is industriously added here to the former phrase, to show that it was now meant in another sense. He shall indeed lift up thy head, as well as the chief butler’s, but in another manner, not for time, but

from thee, or so as to take away thy head or thy life (which eminently consists and appears in the head) from thee.

Yet within three days shall Pharaoh lift up thine head from off thee,.... Order thee to be beheaded; so the Targum of Jonathan and Ben Melech interpret it,"Pharaoh shall remove thy head from thy body with a sword:"

and shall hang thee on a tree; his body after his head was severed from it, this should be hung upon a gallows or gibbet, and there continue:

and the birds shall eat the flesh from off thee; as they usually do when bodies are thus hung up, see 2 Samuel 21:9; this was signified by the birds eating the bakemeats out of the uppermost basket when upon his head, as it seemed to him in his dream.

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.
19. lift up thy head from off thee] Joseph, by a use of the same phrase as in Genesis 40:13, introduces the sudden unfavourable interpretation: “from off thee” shews that it means here “decapitation,” not (see note on Genesis 40:13) “he will release thee from imprisonment, in order to be executed.” For the word-play, which uses the same word in two senses, cf. Genesis 27:39.

hang thee on a tree] The decapitated corpse of the malefactor would be impaled, and allowed to hang exposed to public view, and to become the prey of wild animals and obscene birds. This picture was terrible to the Egyptian mind, which attached great value to preservation of the body as the ultimate medium of the soul’s (= ḳa) existence. For “hanging,” see Joshua 10:26; 2 Samuel 4:12; 2 Samuel 21:9-10.

Genesis 40:19Encouraged by this favourable interpretation, the chief baker also told his dream: "I too, my dream: behold, baskets of white bread upon my head, and in the top basket all kinds of food for Pharaoh, pastry; and the birds ate it out of the basket from my head." In this dream, the carrying of the baskets upon the head is thoroughly Egyptian; for, according to Herod. 2, 35, the men in Egypt carry burdens upon the head, the women upon the shoulders. And, according to the monuments, the variety of confectionary was very extensive (cf. Hengst. p. 27). In the opening words, "I too," the baker points to the resemblance between his dream and the cup-bearer's. The resemblance was not confined to the sameness of the numbers-three baskets of white bread, and three branches of the vine-but was also seen in the fact that his official duty at the court was represented in the dream. But instead of Pharaoh taking the bread from his hand, the birds of heaven ate it out of the basket upon his head. And Joseph gave this interpretation: "The three baskets signify three days: within that time Pharaoh will take away thy head from thee ("lift up thy head," as in Genesis 40:13, but with מעליך "away from thee," i.e., behead thee), and hang thee on the stake (thy body after execution; vid., Deuteronomy 21:22-23), and the birds will eat thy flesh from off thee." However simple and close this interpretation of the two dreams may appear, the exact accordance with the fulfilment was a miracle wrought by God, and showed that as the dreams originated in the instigation of God, the interpretation was His inspiration also.
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