Genesis 40:8
And they said to him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said to them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) There is no interpreter.—In Egypt it was the business of men trained for the purpose, called in Genesis 41:8, magicians and wise men, to interpret dreams, and to such the butler and baker could have no access from their prison. But Joseph denies that art and training can really avail, and claims that the interpretation belongs to God.

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.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.These prisoners dream, "each according to the interpretation of his dream," the imagery of which was suited to indicate his future state. They were sad - anxious to know the meaning of these impressive dreams. "Why are your forces bad today?" Joseph keeps up his character of frank composure. "Do not interpretations belong to God?" In his past history he had learned that dreams themselves come from God. And when he adds, "Tell them now to me," he intimates that God would enable him to interpret their dreams. Here again he uses the general name of God, which was common to him with the pagan.5-8. they dreamed a dream—Joseph, influenced by the spirit of true religion, could feel for others (Ec 4:1; Ro 12:15; Php 2:4). Observing them one day extremely depressed, he inquired the cause of their melancholy; and being informed it was owing to a dream they had respectively dreamed during the previous night, after piously directing them to God (Da 2:30; Isa 26:10), he volunteered to aid them, through the divine help, in discovering the import of their vision. The influence of Providence must be seen in the remarkable fact of both officers dreaming such dreams in one night. He moves the spirits of men. There is no interpreter of it, to wit, with us, or to whom we can now resort; for otherwise there were many in Egypt of that profession, Genesis 41:8.

Do not interpretations belong to God? In vain do you expect such things from your wise men, for it is only that God who sends these dreams that can interpret them, and to him you should seek for it.

Tell me, who am the servant of the true God, who useth to communicate his secrets to his people, and who, I doubt not, will hear my prayers for this mercy. This he spoke by special direction and instinct from God, who had given this gift to him. And they said unto him, we have dreamed a dream,.... Each of them:

and there is no interpreter of it; in that place in which they were, the prison; otherwise there were persons enough in the land that pretended to the interpretation of dreams, Genesis 41:8; but they could not come at them, being in prison:

and Joseph said unto them, do not interpretations belong to God? that is, of dreams, and to him only, meaning the true God whom he worshipped; for as dreams themselves, which are of importance, and predict things to come, are of God; for none can foretell future events but he, and such to whom he imparts the gift of prophecy; so none can interpret dreams with any certainty but God himself, and those to whom he gives the faculty of interpretation of them; this Joseph said to take off their minds from the magicians and wise men, and interpreters of dreams among the Egyptians, these officers were hankering after, and wished they had them with them to interpret their dreams to them; and to suggest unto them, that though he did not arrogate such a power to himself, as having it of himself, yet intimates that he doubted not, but upon an address to his God, he would favour him with the interpretation of their dreams, and therefore encourages them to relate them to him:

tell me them, I pray you; or "now" (z), directly, as the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan; signifying, that he would immediately interpret them to them; no doubt Joseph said this under a divine impulse.

(z) "nunc", Drusius.

And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, {c} Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you.

(c) Cannot God raise up such as shall interpret such things.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. none that can interpret it] The Egyptians regarded the interpretation of dreams as a science requiring special study; or as a department of magic needing special initiation. Had the two officials been at liberty, they would have each repaired to their special soothsayer or dream-interpreter for an explanation of the dream that had so greatly disturbed them.

belong to God] Joseph claims that the interpretation of dreams is neither science nor magic. The man, to whom God reveals His secrets, alone can interpret them. He himself does not pretend to interpret. But, possibly, God may make use of His servant to make known His mind, cf. Genesis 41:16; Genesis 41:38-39 and Daniel 2:19; Daniel 2:28; Daniel 2:47.Verse 8. - And they said unto him, We hays dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it - literally, a dream have we dreamt, and interpreting it there is none. This must be noted as a third peculiarity connected with these dreams, that both of their recipients were similarly affected by them, though there was much in the butler s dream to inspire hope rather than dejection. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? - literally, Are not interpretations to Elohim? i.e. the Supreme Being (cf. Genesis 41:16; Daniel 2:11, 28, 47). The Egyptians believed ὅτι ἀνθρώπων μὲν οὐδενὶ προσκέεται ἡ τέχνη μαντικὴ τῶν δὲ θεῶν μετεξετέροισε (Herod., 2:83). Tell me them, I pray you. Joseph's request implies that the consciousness of his Divine calling to be a prophet had begun to dawn upon him, and that he was now speaking from an inward conviction, doubtless produced within his mind by Elohim, that he could unfold the true significance of the dreams. The head cup-bearer and head baker had committed crimes against the king of Egypt, and were imprisoned in "the prison of the house of the captain of the trabantes, the prison where Joseph himself was confined;" the state-prison, according to Eastern custom, forming part of the same building as the dwelling-house of the chief of the executioners. From a regard to the exalted position of these two prisoners, Potiphar ordered Joseph to wait upon them, not to keep watch over them; for את פּקד does not mean to appoint as guard, but to place by the side of a person.
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