Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible
back to: Genesis
Book: Genesis
Chapter: 41

Pharaoh's dreams. (1-8) Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dreams.
(9-32) Joseph's counsel, He is highly advanced. (33-45) Joseph's
children, The beginning of the Famine. (46-57)

1-8 The means of Joseph's being freed from Prison were
Pharaoh's dreams, as here related. Now that God No longer speaks
to us in that way, it is No matter how little we either heed
dreams, or tell them. The telling of foolish dreams can make No
better than foolish talk. But these dreams showed that they were
sent of God; when he awoke, Pharaoh's Spirit was troubled.

9-32 God's time for the enlargement of his people is the
fittest time. If the chief Butler had got Joseph to be released
from Prison, it is probable he would have gone back to the land
of the Hebrews. Then he had neither been So blessed himself, nor
such a blessing to his family, as afterwards he proved. Joseph,
when introduced to Pharaoh, gives honour to God. Pharaoh had
dreamed that he stood upon the bank of the River Nile, and saw
the Kine, both the Fat ones, and the lean ones, come out of the
River. Egypt has No Rain, but the plenty of the Year depends
upon the overflowing of the River Nile. See how many ways
Providence has of dispensing its Gifts; yet our dependence is
still the same upon the First Cause, who makes every Creature
what it is to us, be it Rain or River. See to what changes the
comforts of this Life are subject. We cannot be sure that
to-morrow shall be as this Day, or next Year as this. We must
learn how to want, as Well as how to abound. Mark the Goodness
of God in sending the Seven years of plenty before those of
Famine, that provision might be made. The produce of the Earth
is sometimes more, and sometimes less; yet, take one with
another, he that gathers much, has nothing over; and he that
gathers little, has No lack, Ex 16:18. And see the perishing
nature of our worldly enjoyments. The great harvests of the
years of plenty were quite lost, and swallowed up in the years
of Famine; and that which seemed very much, yet did but just
serve to keep the people alive. There is Bread which lasts to
eternal Life, which it is worth while to labour for. They that
make the things of this world their good things, will find
little pleasure in remembering that they have received them.

33-45 Joseph gave good advice to Pharaoh. Fair warning should
always be followed By good counsel. God has in his Word told us
of a Day of trial before us, when we shall need all the Grace we
can have. Now, therefore, provide accordingly. Pharaoh gave
Joseph an honourable Testimony. He is a Man in whom the Spirit
of God is; and such men ought to be valued. Pharaoh puts upon
Joseph marks of honour. He gave him such a name as spoke the
value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, "a revealer of secrets."
This preferment of Joseph encourages all to trust in God. Some
translate Joseph's new name, "the Saviour of the world." The
brightest glories, even of the upper world, are Put upon Christ,
the highest trust lodged in his Hand, and all power given him,
both in Heaven and Earth.

46-57 In the names of his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim,
Joseph owned the Divine Providence. 1. He was made to forget his
misery. 2. He was made fruitful in the land of his affliction.
The Seven plenteous years came, and were ended. We ought to look
forward to the End of the days, both of our prosperity and of
our opportunity. We must not be secure in prosperity, nor
slothful in making good use of opportunity. Years of plenty will
End; what thy Hand finds to do, do it; and gather in gathering
time. The Dearth came, and the Famine was not only in Egypt, but
in other lands. Joseph was diligent in laying up, while the
plenty lasted. He was prudent and careful in giving out, when
the Famine came. Joseph was engaged in useful and important
labours. Yet it was in the midst of this his activity that his
Father Jacob said, Joseph is not! What a large portion of our
troubles would be done away if we knew the whole Truth! Let
these events lead us to Jesus. There is a Famine of the Bread of
Life throughout the whole Earth. Go to Jesus, and what he bids
you, do. Attend to his voice, apply to him; he will open his
treasures, and satisfy with Goodness the hungry soul of every
Age and nation, without Money and without price. But those who
slight this provision must starve, and his enemies will be