- Two things providence is here bringing about. 1. The advancement of Joseph. 2. The maintenance of Jacob and his family in a time of famine; for the eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the earth, and direct the affairs of the children of men. In order to these, here is, I. Pharaoh's dream, verse 1-8.
- II. The recommendation of Joseph to him for an interpreter, verse 9-13.
- III. The interpretation of the dreams, and the prediction of seven years plenty, and seven years famine in Egypt, with the prudent advice given to Pharaoh thereupon, verse 14-36.
- IV. The preferment of Joseph to a place of the highest power and trust, verse 37-45.
- V. The accomplishment of Joseph's prediction, and his fidelity to his trust, verse 46-57.
His spirit was troubled - It cannot but put us into a concern to receive any extraordinary message from heaven. And his magicians were puzzled; the rules of their art failed them; these dreams of Pharaoh did not fall within the compass of them. This was to make Joseph's performance by the Spirit of God the more admirable.
I remember my faults this day - in forgetting Joseph. Some think he means his faults against Pharaoh, for which he was imprisoned, and then he would insinuate, that through Pharaoh had forgiven him, he had not forgiven himself. God's time for the enlargement of his people will appear, at last, to be the fittest time. If the chief butler had at first used his interest for Joseph's enlargement, and had obtained, it is probable, he would have gone back to the land of the Hebrews, and then he had neither been so blessed himself, nor such a blessing to his family. But staying two years longer, and coming out upon this occasion to interpret the king's dreams, way was made for his preferment. The king can scarce allow him time, but that decency required it, to shave himself, and to change his raiment, Genesis 41:14. It is done with all possible expedition, and Joseph is brought in perhaps almost as much surprised as Peter was, Acts 12:9, so suddenly is his captivity brought back, that he is as one that dreams, Psalms 126:1. Pharaoh immediately, without enquiring who or whence he was tells him his business, that he expected he should interpret his dream.
(1.) He gives honour to God; It is not in me; God must give it. Great gifts then appear most graceful and illustrious, when those that have them use them humbly, and take not the praise of them to themselves, but give it to God, (2.) He shews respect to Pharaoh, and hearty good-will to him, supposing that the interpretation would be an answer of peace. Those that consult God's oracles may expect an answer of peace.
See the goodness of God, in sending the seven years of plenty before those of famine, that provision might be made accordingly. How wonderful wisely has Providence, that great house-keeper, ordered the affairs of this numerous family from the beginning! Great variety of seasons there have been and the produce of the earth sometimes more, and sometimes less; yet take one time with another, what was miraculous concerning the manna, is ordinarily verified in the common course of Providence; He that gathers much has nothing over, and he that gathers little has no lack, Exodus 16:18.
See the perishing nature of our worldly enjoyments. The great increase of the years of plenty was quite lost and swallowed up in the years of famine; and the overplus of it, which seemed very much, yet did but just serve to keep men alive.
Without thee shall no man lift up his hand or foot - All the affairs of the kingdom must pass through his hand. Only in the throne will I be greater than thou - It is probable there were those about court that opposed Joseph's preferment, which occasioned Pharaoh so oft to repeat the grant, and with that solemn sanction, I am Pharaoh. He gave him his own ring as a ratification of his commission, and in token of peculiar favour; or it was like delivering him the great seal. He put fine clothes upon him instead of his prison garments, and adorned him with a chain of gold. He made him ride in the second chariot next his own, and ordered all to do obeisance to him, as to Pharaoh himself; he gave him a new name and such a name as spoke the value he had for him, Zaphnath-paaneah, a Revealer of secrets. He married him honourably to a prince's daughter. Where God had been liberal in giving wisdom and other merits, Pharaoh was not sparing in conferring honours. Now this preferment of Joseph, was, 1st, an abundant recompense for his innocent and patient suffering, a lasting instance of the equity and goodness of providence, and an encouragement to all to trust in a good God. 2dly, It was typical of the exaltation of Christ, that great revealer of secrets, ( John 1:18,) or as some translate Joseph's new name, the Saviour of the world. The brightest glories of the upper world are upon him, the highest trusts lodged in his hand, and all power given him both in heaven and earth. He is gatherer, keeper, and disposer of all the stores of divine grace, and chief ruler of the kingdom of God among men. The work of ministers is to cry before him; Bow the knee; kiss the Son.
Two sons - In the names he gave them, he owned the divine Providence giving this happy turn to his affairs. He was made to forget his misery, but could he be so unnatural as to forget all his father's house? And he was made fruitful in the land of his affliction. It had been the land of his affliction, and, in some sense, it was still so, for his distance from his father was still his affliction. Ephraim signifies fruitfulness, and Manasseh forgetfulness.
The seven years of dearth began to come - Not only in Egypt, but in other lands, in all lands, that is, all the neighbouring countries.