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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

Chapter 41

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Pharaoh's Dream. 1After a lapse of two years, Pharaoh had a dream. He saw himself standing by the Nile, 2when up out of the Nile came seven cows, handsome and fat; they grazed in the reed grass. 3Behind them seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile; and standing on the bank of the Nile beside the others, 4the ugly, gaunt cows ate up the seven handsome, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.

5He fell asleep again and had another dream. He saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 6Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, thin and blasted by the east wind; 7and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven fat, healthy ears. Then Pharaoh woke up, to find it was only a dream.

8Next morning his spirit was agitated. So he summoned all the magicians and sages of Egypt and recounted his dreams to them; but no one could interpret his dreams for him. 9Then the chief cupbearer spoke up and said to Pharaoh: “On this occasion I am reminded of my negligence. 10Once, when Pharaoh was angry, he put me and the chief baker in custody in the house of the chief steward. 11Later, we both had dreams on the same night, and each of our dreams had its own meaning. 12There with us was a Hebrew youth, a slave of the chief steward; and when we told him our dreams, he interpreted them for us and explained for each of us the meaning of his dream. e Dn 1, 17 . 13And it turned out just as he had told us: I was restored to my post, but the other man was impaled.”

14Pharaoh therefore had Joseph summoned, and they hurriedly brought him from the dungeon. After he shaved and changed his clothes, he came into Pharaoh's presence. f Ps 105, 20 . 15Pharaoh then said to him: “I had certain dreams that no one can interpret. But I hear it said of you that the moment you are told a dream you can interpret it.” 16“It is not I,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God who will give Pharaoh the right answer.” g Gn 40, 8 .

17Then Pharaoh said to Joseph: “In my dream, I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18when up from the Nile came seven cows, fat and well‐formed; they grazed in the reed grass. 19Behind them came seven other cows, scrawny, most ill‐formed and gaunt. Never have I seen such ugly specimens as these in all the land of Egypt! 20The gaunt, ugly cows ate up the first seven fat cows. 21But when they had consumed them, no one could tell that they had done so, because they looked as ugly as before. Then I woke up. 22In another dream, I saw seven ears of grain, fat and healthy, growing on a single stalk. 23Behind them sprouted seven ears of grain, shriveled and thin and blasted by the east wind; 24and the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven healthy ears. I have spoken to the magicians, but none of them can give me an explanation.”

25Joseph said to Pharaoh: “Both of Pharaoh's dreams have the same meaning. God has thus foretold to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26The seven healthy cows are seven years, and the seven healthy ears are seven years—the same in each dream. 27So also, the seven thin, ugly cows that came up after them are seven years, as are the seven thin, wind‐blasted ears; they are seven years of famine. 28It is just as I told Pharaoh: God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29Seven years of great abundance are now coming throughout the land of Egypt; 30but these will be followed by seven years of famine, when all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten. When the famine has ravaged the land, 31no trace of the abundance will be found in the land because of the famine that follows it—so utterly severe will that famine be. 32That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been reaffirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.

33“Therefore, let Pharaoh seek out a wise and discerning man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34Pharaoh should also take action to appoint overseers, so as to regiment the land during the seven years of abundance. 35They should husband all the food of the coming good years, collecting the grain under Pharaoh's authority, to be stored in the towns for food. 36This food will serve as a reserve for the country against the seven years of famine that are to follow in the land of Egypt, so that the land may not perish in the famine.”

37This advice pleased Pharaoh and all his officials. h Acts 7, 10 . 38“Could we find another like him,” Pharaoh asked his officials, “a man so endowed with the spirit of God?” 39So Pharaoh said to Joseph: “Since God has made all this known to you, no one can be as wise and discerning as you are. 40You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people shall dart at your command. Only in respect to the throne shall I outrank you. i Ps 105, 21; Wis 10, 14; 1 Mc 2, 53; Acts 7, 10 . 41Herewith,” Pharaoh told Joseph, “I place you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring* and put it on Joseph's finger. He had him dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. 43He then had him ride in the chariot of his vizier, and they shouted “Abrek!”* before him.

Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt. 44“I, Pharaoh, proclaim,” he told Joseph, “that without your approval no one shall move hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” 45Pharaoh also bestowed the name of Zaphenath‐paneah* on Joseph, and he gave him in marriage Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. 46Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.

After Joseph left Pharaoh's presence, he traveled throughout the land of Egypt. 47During the seven years of plenty, when the land produced abundant crops, 48he husbanded all the food of these years of plenty that the land of Egypt was enjoying and stored it in the towns, placing in each town the crops of the fields around it. 49Joseph garnered grain in quantities like the sands of the sea, so vast that at last he stopped measuring it, for it was beyond measure.

50Before the famine years set in, Joseph became the father of two sons, born to him by Asenath, daughter of Potiphera, priest of Heliopolis. j Gn 46, 20; 48, 5 . 51He named his first‐born Manasseh,* meaning, “God has made me forget entirely the sufferings I endured at the hands of my family”; 52and the second he named Ephraim,* meaning, “God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

53When the seven years of abundance enjoyed by the land of Egypt came to an end, 54the seven years of famine set in, just as Joseph had predicted. Although there was famine in all the other countries, food was available throughout the land of Egypt. k Ps 105, 16; Acts 7, 11 . 55When hunger came to be felt throughout the land of Egypt and the people cried to Pharaoh for bread, Pharaoh directed all the Egyptians to go to Joseph and do whatever he told them. 56When the famine had spread throughout the land, Joseph opened all the cities that had grain and rationed it to the Egyptians, since the famine had gripped the land of Egypt. 57In fact, all the world came to Joseph to obtain rations of grain, for famine had gripped the whole world.

Notes:

e: Dn 1, 17 .

f: Ps 105, 20 .

g: Gn 40, 8 .

h: Acts 7, 10 .

i: Ps 105, 21; Wis 10, 14; 1 Mc 2, 53; Acts 7, 10 .

j: Gn 46, 20; 48, 5 .

k: Ps 105, 16; Acts 7, 11 .

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