Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 40:9-13

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.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 40:5-8

5 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.

6 And Joseph came in unto them in the morning, and looked upon them, and, behold, they were sad.

7 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?

8 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.

Joseph was an attentive servant, and paused to ask the men under his care what the cause of their sadness was. As soon as he heard that they had strange, uninterpreted dreams, he immediately offered to translate the visions for them.

Frankly I envy his confidence in the matter. In my own path of discipleship I often feel anxious about my spiritual “performance.” I strain to bear my testimony better, to discern another’s feelings more deeply, to magnify God’s light more brightly. Just a couple days ago I had a spiritual conversation with a brother, and I found myself racking my brain, trying to come up with something insightful and meaningful to say, like I had an obligation to provide something of substance.

And the thing is, I know perfectly well that I’m doing this wrong. I know that I need to surrender making it my work and let it be His work. I need to stop worrying about whether I can come up with the right answer and leave it up to Him to provide it instead. Or leave it up to Him to not provide the right answer, and in that case not feel like I have to fill that void with myself.

I imagine Joseph was able to speak with confidence because he really knew that “interpretations belong to God,” and thus there was no pressure on him to personally rack his brain and figure out the correct meaning. God would provide it…. Or maybe He wouldn’t. Joseph didn’t actually promise that he would be able to provide an answer or not, just that he was willing to listen to the dreams and then listen for whether God had anything to say on the matter. And that was enough.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 37:9-10

9 And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me.

10 And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?

I wanted to look at Joseph’s second dream a little more before moving on. I mentioned yesterday that Jacob interpreted the sun and moon and stars in Joseph’s dream as representing Jacob, Rachel, and all of Joseph’s brothers. And if this interpretation is correct, then the doubling of Joseph’s dreams, first with the sheaves of wheat and second with the heavenly bodies, likely signified the two times his family would make special obeisance to him. The dream with only the eleven sheaves would be indicating the first time that Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt, asking for grain, and bowing before Joseph. This second dream with the stars and the sun and the moon would be indicating later when Joseph had revealed his identity and all the household came to live under Joseph’s protection.

But that being said, I’m not entirely sure that Jacob was correct in his interpretation. The fact that he says “I and thy mother” seems to suggest that this dream was given when Rachel was still alive. But by the time that Joseph came into power his mother was long since dead. Rachel was never present to see, and make obeisance, to Joseph as an Egyptian prince. Perhaps the sun and the moon could instead represent the two nations who depended on Joseph for survival: Egypt and Israel.

Of course, that other interpretation depends entirely on whether Rachel was still alive at this point or not. We know that she died during the birth of Benjamin, but we do not know how old Joseph was when his younger brother was born. Is it possible he never knew the boy before he was sold off to Egypt? If that were the case, then eleven stars would have seemed strange to the family, as Joseph would have only had ten brothers so far.

Which perhaps means that Benjamin was already born, Rachel had already passed away, and if the sun and moon really did signify Jacob and Rachel showing reverence to their son, perhaps it was meant in a spiritual sense instead of physical.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 6:1-2

1 And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them,

2 That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.

There has been some debate as to what is meant by “sons of God” and “daughters of men.” Proposed theories are as extreme as “sons of God” meaning fallen angels, that coupled with human women (daughters of men) to produce a race of demigod giants. Which, if true, holds many unsettling implications.

I personally find far more believable, and far more fitting in the context of the previous two chapters, the theory that the “sons of God” refers to the male Sethites, or those who believe in God and followed His precepts. Meanwhile the “daughters of men” would refer to the female Cainites, or those who had rejected God.

And this interpretation would also align today’s verses with a common theme in the bible: how intimacy with the things of the world turns mankind from God. It is seen in Adam receiving the fruit from Eve, in the Israelites chasing after false gods of the heathen, and in the Jews being so caught up with their embellished law that they could not recognize the Savior when he stood before them.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:16

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Let’s face it, this is a hard verse, and it has implications that can be very hurtful. It has been used as the justification behind some truly atrocious customs, customs that have made a staggering number of women live as second-class citizens. And if all that oppression was solely the cruelty of man, that would be one thing…but does this verse suggest that it is also the will of God?!

Well, to answer that I consider my personal experiences, and I must conclude that such a notion is entirely incompatible with the God that I see loving my wife and daughter. The God that I see has just as much passion for them as He has for me and my son. He is remarkably devoted to them, He fiercely fights for them, He is near to them at every moment. I have never seen in Him a desire to subjugate them to another, but rather to free them.

So how do I resolve verses like these? I think the natural response would be to try and apologize for it, to give some interpretation that makes all of the inconvenient elements go away. And frankly yes, a number of such possible interpretations do occur to my mind, and perhaps one of those could be the correct interpretation….but also perhaps none of them are.

If I started to preach any one of those ideas as the truth, I would be putting words in God’s mouth, which I do not have any right to do. Only He can provide the perfect clarification, and thus far He has not provided that to me. And so I must conclude that I do not know how this verse is meant be read…but I do know that God loves his daughters, and that He loves them just as much as His sons.