5 And he slept and dreamed the second time: and, behold, seven ears of corn came up upon one stalk, rank and good. 6 And, behold, seven thin ears and blasted with the east wind sprung up after them. 7 And the seven thin ears devoured the seven rank and full ears. And Pharaoh awoke, and, behold, it was a dream.
Pharaoh’s dream about the cows was unsettling enough, but when he fell asleep again the theme was repeated a second time, now with stalks of corn. This doubling of dreams is a pattern in the story of Joseph. It began with Joseph having two dreams about how his family would come to make obeisance to him. It continued with the baker and the butler each having a thematically similar dream in the prison. And now the Pharaoh’s dreams are doubled as well.
One reason for the doubling of these messages might be to ensure the recipient will recognize them as being from God. One stray dream might just be a random imagination of the mind, but the same idea being repeated in different representations suggests a conscious, deliberate mind behind it all.
In Pharaoh’s second dream he again has a resource, this time corn, coming rich and full in the number of seven. Then, as with the cattle, seven poor representations of the crop rise and consume the first. Specifically, we are told that the poor ears of corn are blasted by the “east wind,” which is an expression that shows up a few times in the Bible, used to denote ruin and famine.