Genesis 40:1-4– Sometime while in prison an event took place that would lead to the promotion of Joseph to his destined position. Two officials of the king were thrown into Joseph=s prison. The cupbearer was an official who served drink to the king. He and the baker had to be trustworthy individuals. Perhaps some poison was discovered and the logical ones to use it to kill the king would be the one responsible for what the king ate and drank.
Genesis 40:5-8 – These men were placed in prison while an investigation went on to determine if one of them or another was responsible for the offenses. While they awaited the outcome of the inquiry they both had dreams that deeply troubled them. In all likelihood these dreams were given to them by the Lord to set in motion events that would lead to the release of Joseph from jail and the reuniting of the sons of Jacob to one another. These dreams were not the Lord talking to these men, but one like Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh, so puzzling that they drove the dreamers to distraction with wonderment and confusion believing that one of the gods that they worshiped was giving them a sign.
Joseph noticed that they both were troubled and inquired as to the source of their vexations. They shared with Joseph that it was the dreams they had that troubled them and that they desired to know what was meant by them. In all likelihood if they were at liberty they would have contacted their local astrologer, soothsayer, but they were stuck in jail. Joseph believed that it was God who ruled men’s lives and who knew the future with certainty. Joseph asked the men to share with him their dreams and he would bring them before the Lord for an answer.
Genesis 40:9-15 – The cupbearer tells Joseph his dream first. He dreamed of a vine with 3 branches which budded, blossomed and then bore luscious fruit, which he plucked, squeezed and poured into a cup that he gave to Pharaoh to drink. The Lord quickly gave to Joseph an interpretation that the 3 branches indicated 3 days and that in that time the cup bearer of the king would be released from prison and restored to his position with Pharaoh.
Joseph sensing that this also was a means for him to get out of jail asks the cupbearer to remember him when he is restored and intercede with Pharaoh to release him. He like the cupbearer was falsely accused and didn’t deserve to be in prison any more than the cupbearer did. The cupbearer probably promised to intercede but soon forgot Joseph.
Genesis 40:16-19 – One of the reasons that the cupbearer was first to share his dream may have been that he had a clear conscience knowing that he did nothing wrong. The chief baker seeing that the interpretation turned out so well for the cupbearer, decided to share his dream with Joseph, perhaps thinking that Joseph only gave good interpretations.
Maybe he thought a good interpretation would affect the outcome. The number 3 again is significant with 3 baskets. The upper basket carried on his head in the dream was preyed upon by birds, thus defiling the baked goods meant for Pharaoh. Joseph understood this to mean that in 3 days his head would be removed and that the birds would be eating him.
Genesis 40:20-23 – The dreams that Joseph interpreted were fulfilled completely. The third day turned out to be a most significant day, Pharaohs birthday. Birthday’s of monarch’s were generally celebrated by all in the kingdom and usually a time for amnesty for those who may have offended the king. This was granted to the cupbearer, but the baker clearly was discovered to be so offensive to the king that he was sentenced and executed on that very day.
The cupbearer must have been amazed that things happened just as Joseph said they would but in the excitement of his restoration he forgot about Joseph for two years. Meanwhile the hopes that Joseph may have had in the cupbearer faded and it probably seemed to him that he would never get out of prison. It is in these kinds of situations that we can become hopeless and grow bitter against God. Yet we see nothing of the kind in Joseph, and he didn’t have the indwelling Holy Spirit nor did he have the promise of Romans 8:28. All he had was the evidence that God was with him in the incident of the dreams, and perhaps the still quiet voice of the Lord in the midst of his trials.