9 And the chief butler told his dream to Joseph, and said to him, In my dream, behold, a vine was before me;

10 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:

11 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.

12 And Joseph said unto him, This is the interpretation of it: The three branches are three days:

13 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.

There are all manner of positive signifiers in the chief butler’s dream. For starters there is new life: a budding vine with blossoms growing, and clusters that bring forth good grapes. There is no mention of death or decay, and no ominous sigil. Then there is the other good sign of turning the grapes into wine, and giving that wine to Pharaoh. This clearly represents him being returned to a position of trust with his former master. For if a ruler will receive a drink of another man, that means he trusts that other man to have not poisoned it!

And so, frankly, the interpretation of this dream seems fairly obvious. As we will see, though, this is the first in a procession of three dreams brought to Joseph, and each is more inscrutable than the last. One might accuse Joseph of simply making the obvious connection in this dream, but the interpretation he is about to give to the baker and afterwards to the Pharaoh will be far more impressive.

In any case, Joseph does not only give the basic interpretation to the butler, but he also even elaborates on the finer details, such as how the three branches represent three days’ time before Pharaoh will elevate the man. That is a boldly specific declaration, but as we will see, he is exactly right in it.

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