Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Genesis 41:17-24 Pharaoh Recounts His Dream to Joseph

When Joseph appears before Pharaoh, the ruler recounts his dream to Joseph.  At first, I was going to just say that Pharaoh repeats his dream, and move on to Joseph's interpretation.  However, since the account has additional details which were not in the first account, let's take the time to see if there are any significant reasons for the repetition:

"Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, 'In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds.  After them, seven other cows came up -- scrawny and very ugly and lean.  I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt.  The lean,  ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first.  But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before.  Then I woke up.'

'In my dreams I also saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk.  After them, seven other heads sprouted -- withered and thin and scorched by the east wind.  The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads.  I told this to the magicians, but none could explain it to me.' " (Genesis 41:17-24 NIV)


The main difference between the two accounts of the dream seem to be that there are just additional adjectives to describe the appearance of the cows and stalks of grain.  These adjectives (scrawny, withered) help emphasize the shocking difference between the two sets of cows and grain.

In this second account, Pharaoh exclaims that he has never seen such ugly cows in Egypt before.  He also mentions that even after the ugly cows ate up the sleek ones, they still appeared gaunt; no one could tell that they had just eaten.  No wonder Pharaoh was troubled by these images, which seemed to foretell some great evil approaching his land.  This would be of great concern for a Pharaoh, one who considered it his duty to maintain order in his world and hold back the chaotic forces which threatened to consume it.

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