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.
Verse 1. - And it came to pass (literally, and it was) after these things (literally, words, i.e. after the transactions just re. corded), that the butler - מָשְׁקֶה, the hiph. part. of שָׁקָה, to drink, signifies one who causes to drink, hence cupbearer (cf. ver. 11) - of the king of Egypt and his baker - the אֹפֶה (part. of אָפָה, to cook or bake) was the officer who prepared the king's food. The monuments show that the Egyptians had carried the arts of the confectioner and cook to a high degree of perfection (vide Hengstenberg, 'Egypt and the Books of Moses,' p. 27; Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:33-39, ed. 1878) - had offended (or sinned against) their lord (literally, against, the preposition being repeated) the king of Egypt - whom they had attempted to poison (the Targum of Jonathan), though this of course is only a conjecture in the absence of specific information.
And Pharaoh was wroth against two of his officers, against the chief of the butlers, and against the chief of the bakers.
Verse 2. - And Pharaoh was wroth - literally, broke forth (sc. into anger) - against two of his officers (vide Genesis 37:36) against the chief - sar: the word occurs in one of the oldest historical documents of ancient Egypt ('Inscription of Una,' line 4, sixth dynasty), meaning chief or eunuch (vide ' Records of the Past,' 2:3) - of the butlers, - an office once filled by Nehemiah in the Court of Persia (Nehemiah 1:11), and Rabshakeh (Aramaic for "chief of the cupbearers") in the Court of Assyria (2 Kings 18:17) - and against the chief of the bakers. Oriental monarchs generally had a multitude of butlers and bakers, or cupbearers and Court purveyors, the chiefs in both departments being invested with high honor, and regarded with much trust (Herod., 3:34; Xenoph., 'Cyrop.,' 1:3, 8).
And he put them in ward in the house of the captain of the guard, into the prison, the place where Joseph was bound.
Verse 3. - And he put them in ward (or in custody) in the house of the captain of the guard, - i.e. Potiphar (vide Genesis 37:36) - into the prison, - literally, house of enclosure (vide Genesis 39:20) - the place where Joseph was bound. The word אָסור, from אָסַר, to make fast by binding, seems to corroborate the Psalmist's assertion (Psalm 105:18) that Joseph had been laid in iron and his feet hurt with fetters; but this could only have been temporarily (vide vers. 4, 6).
And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them, and he served them: and they continued a season in ward.
Verse 4. - And the captain of the guard charged Joseph with them (literally, set Joseph with them, i.e. as a companion or servant; to wait upon them, since they were high officers of State, not to keep watch over them as criminals), and he served them (i.e. acted as their attendant): and they continued a season in ward (literally, and they were days, i.e. an indefinite period, in prison).
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.
Verse 5. - And they dreamed a dream both of them (on dreams cf. Genesis 20:3), each man his dream in one night (this was the first remarkable circumstance connected with these dreams - they both happened the same night), each man according to the interpretation of his dream (i.e. each dream corresponded exactly, as the event proved, to the interpretation put on it by Joseph, which was a second remarkable circumstance, inasmuch as it showed the dreams to be no vain hallucinations of the mind, but Divinely-sent foreshadowings of the future fortunes of the dreamers), 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.
Verses 6, 7. - And Joseph came in unto them in the morning (a proof that Joseph at this time enjoyed comparative freedom from corporeal restraint in the prison), and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad. The word זֹעֲפִים from זָעַפ, to be angry, originally signifying irate, wrathful, τεταραγμένοι (LXX.), is obviously intended rather to convey the idea of dejection, tristes (Vulgate). And he asked Pharaoh's officers that were With him in the ward of his lord's house, saying, Wherefore look ye so sadly today? - literally, knowing what (־ מַדּוּעַ מָה יָדוּעַ - τί μαθών) are your faces evil, or bad (πρόσωπα σκυθρωπὰ, LXX.; tristier solito, Vulgate), today?
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.
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.
And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;
Verses 9-11. - And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me - literally, in my dream (sc. I was), and behold a vine (gephen, from the unused root gaphan, to be bent, a twig, hence a plant which has twigs, especially a vine; cf. Judges 9:13; Isaiah 7:43; Isaiah 24:7) before me. The introduction of the vine into the narrative, which has been pronounced (Bohlen) an important factor in proof of its recent composition, since, according to Herodotus (2:77), the vine was not cultivated in Egypt, and, according to Plutarch ('De Is. et Osir.,' 6), it was not till after Psammetichus, i.e. about the time of Josiah, that the Egyptians began to drink wine, has now by more accurate study been ascertained to be in exact accordance, not only with Biblical statements (Numbers 20:5; Psalm 78:47; Psalm 105:33), but likewise with the testimony of Herodotus, who affirms (2:37) that wine (οϊνος ἀμπέλενος) was a privilege of the priestly order, and with the representations on the monuments of vines and grapes, and of the entire process of wine-making (vide Havernick's 'Introduction,' § 21; Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' 1:379, et seqq. 430, 431, ed. 1878; Hengstenberg, 'Egypt,' p. 13; Rawlinson, 'Hist. Illus.,' p. 49; Thornley Smith, 'Joseph and his Times,' p. 58). And in the vine were three branches: - sarigim, tendrils of a vine, from sarag, to intertwine (ver. 12; Joel 1:7) - and it was as though it budded, and her blossoms shot forth; - literally, as it budded (Murphy); or, as though blossoming (Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch); it shot forth its blossom (Keil); or, its blossoms shot forth (Rosenmüller, Kalisch, Murphy) - and the clusters thereof brought forth ripe grapes: - more correctly, its stems caused to ripen, or matured, clusters, the אֶשְׁכֹּל being the stalk of a cluster, as distinguished from the עֲגָבִים, or clusters themselves (Gesenius, 'Lex.,' p. 85), though interpreters generally (Kalisch, Keil, Murphy) regard the first as the unripe, and the second as the ripe, cluster - and Pharaoh's cup - כּזֹס, a receptacle or vessel, either contracted from כֵּגֶס, like אִישׁ for אֵגֶשׁ (Gesenius), or derived from כּוּא, to conceal, to receive, to keep, connected with the idea of bringing together, collecting into a thing (Furst) - was in my hand: and I took the grapes, and pressed them - ἐξέθλιψα (LXX.), expressi (Vulgate), a translation adopted by the most competent authorities (Gesenius, Furst, Rosenmüller, Keil, Kalisch, et alii), though the sense of diluting with water is advocated by Dathe, Havernick ('Introd.,' § 21), and others as the most appropriate signification of שָׁחַט, which occurs only here. That Pharaoh is represented as drinking the expressed juice of grapes is no proof that the Egyptians were not acquainted with fermentation, and did not drink fermented liquors. In numerous frescoes the process of fermentation is distinctly represented, and Herodotus testifies that though the use of grape wine was comparatively limited, the common people drank a wine made from barley: οἵνῳ δ ἐκ κριθέων πεποιημένῳ (2:77) - into Pharaoh's cup, and I gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand - literally, I placed the cup upon Pharaoh's palm, כַּפ, used of Jacob's thigh-socket (Genesis 32:26), meaning something hollowed out.
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:
Verses 12-15. - And Joseph (acting no doubt under a Divine impulse) said unto him, This is the interpretation of it (cf. ver. 18; 41:12, 25; Judges 7:14; Daniel 2:36; Daniel 4:19): The three branches (vide supra, ver. 10) are three days: - literally, three days these (cf. Genesis 41:26) - yet within three days (literally, in yet three days, i.e. within three more days, before the third day is over) shall Pharaoh lift up thine head, - not μνησθήσεται τῆς ἀρχῆς σου (LXX.), record-abitur ministerii tui (Vulgate), a rendering which has the sanction of Onkelos, Samaritan, Jarchi, Rosenmüller, and others; but shall promote thee from the depths of thy humiliation (Gesenius, Furst, Keil, Kalisch, &c.), to which there is an assonance, and upon which there is an intentional play, in the opposite phrase employed to depict the fortunes of the baker (vide infra, ver. 19) and restore thee unto thy place: - epexegetic of the preceding clause, the כֵּן (or pedestal, from כָּגַן, unused, to stand upright, or stand fast as a base) upon which the butler was to be set being his former dignity and office, as is next explained - and thou shalt deliver Pharaoh's cup into his hand, after the former manner when thou wast his butler. After which Joseph adds a request for himself. But think on me when it shall be well with thee (literally, but, or only, thou shalt remember me with thee, according as, or when, it goes well with thee), and show kindness, I pray thee, unto me (cf. Joshua 2:12; 1 Samuel 20:14, 15; 2 Samuel 9:1; 1 Kings 2:7), and make mention of me unto Pharaoh, - literally, bring me to remembrance before Pharaoh (cf. 1 Kings 17:18; Jeremiah 4:16; Ezekiel 21:28) - and bring me out of this house: for indeed I was stolen (literally, for stolen I was stolen, i.e. I was furtively abducted, without my knowledge or consent, and did not voluntarily abscond in consequence of having perpetrated any crime) away out (literally, from) of the land of the Hebrews: - i.e. the land where the labrum live (Keil); an expression which Joseph never could have used, since the Hebrews were strangers and sojourners in the land, and had no settled possession in it, and therefore a certain index of the lateness of the composition of this portion of the narrative (Block, 'Introd.,' § 80); but if Abram, nearly two centuries earlier, was recognized as a Hebrew (Genesis 14:13), and if Potiphar's wife could, in speaking to her Egyptian husband and domestics, describe Joseph as an Hebrew (Genesis 39:14, 17), there does not appear sufficient reason why Joseph should not be able to characterize his country as the land of the Hebrews. The Hebrews had through Abraham become known at least to Pharaoh and his Court as belonging to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:15-20); and it is not a violent supposition that in Joseph s time "the land of the Hebrews" was a phrase quite intelligible to an Egyptian, as signifying not perhaps the entire extent of Palestine, but the region round about Hebron and Mamre (Nachmanides, Clericus, Rosenmüller) - scarcely as suggesting that the Hebrews had possession of the land prior to the Canaanites (Murphy). And here also have I done nothing (i.e. committed no crime) that they should (literally, that they have) put me into the dungeon. The term בּור is here used to describe Joseph's place of confinement, because pits or cisterns or cesspools, when empty, were frequently employed in primitive times for the incarceration of offenders (el. Jeremiah 38:6; Zechariah 9:11).
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.
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:
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:
Verses 16, 17. - When (literally, and) the chief baker saw that the interpretation was good, he (literally, and he, encouraged by the good fortune predicted to his fellow-prisoner) said unto Joseph, I also was in my dream, and, behold, I had three (literally, and behold three) white baskets - literally, baskets of white bread; LXX., κανᾶ χονδριτῶν; Vulgate, canistra farince; Aquila, κόφινοι γύρεως (Onkolos, Pererius, Gesenius, Furst, Keil, Kalisch, Murphy, et alii); though the rendering "baskets of holes," i.e. wicker baskets, is preferred by some (Symmachus Datbius, Rosenmüller, and others), and accords with the evidence of the monuments, which frequently exhibit baskets of wickerwork (vide Wilkinson's 'Ancient Egyptians,' 2:34, ed. 1878) - on my head. According to Herodotus (2:35), Egyptian men commonly carried on their heads, and Egyptian women, like Hagar (Genesis 21:14), on their shoulders. And in the uppermost basket (whose contents alone are described, since it alone was exposed to the depredations of the birds) there was of all manner of bake-meats for Pharaoh - literally, all kinds of food for Pharaoh, the work of a baker. The monuments show that the variety of confectionery used in Egypt was exceedingly extensive (Hengstenberg, p. 27). And the birds - literally, the bird; a collective, as in Genesis 1:21, 30 (cf. ver. 19) - did eat them out of the basket upon 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:
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).
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.
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.
And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand:
Verses 21, 22. - And he restored the chief butler unto his butlership again; and he gave the cup into Pharaoh's hand (literally, Set the cup upon Pharaoh's psalm): but he (i.e. Pharaoh) hanged the chief baker (vide supra, ver. 19): as Joseph had interpreted to them.
But he hanged the chief baker: as Joseph had interpreted to them.
Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.
Verse 23. - Yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph (as Joseph had desired, and as he doubtless had promised), but forgot him - as Joseph might almost have expected (cf. Ecclesiastes 9:15, 16).