41:1 When two full years had passed [since the release of the chief cupbearer from prison; cupbearer forgot Joseph (cf. Gen. 40:23)], Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile [provided water for crops in Egypt],
41:2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds.
41:3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank.
41:4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up.
41:5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk.
41:6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind [the wind that came from the area of the Arabian Desert; hot and dry wind that withered everything in its path; cf. Jonah 4:8].
41:7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream [Pharaoh was troubled by his two dreams; (cf. Gen. 41:8)].
41:15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said [from the cupbearer who had forgotten Joseph (cf. Gen. 40:23)] of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.”
41:16 “I cannot do it [Joseph refused to take the credit for himself],” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God [a significant statement because people in Egypt worshiped many gods] will give Pharaoh [considered a god in Egypt] the answer he desires [a favorable answer; one that would calm and reassure the troubled monarch].”
41:25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do.
41:26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years [years of bumper crops throughout Egypt]; it is one and the same dream.
41:27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine.
41:28 “It is just as I [Joseph was merely the spokesman describing for Pharaoh what God was about to do] said to Pharaoh: God has shown [in advance; a warning to help them prepare for the coming difficulties] Pharaoh what he is about to do.
41:29 Seven years [represented by the seven good cows and the seven good heads of grain] of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt,
41:30 but seven years [represented by the lean, ugly good cows and the seven worthless heads of grain] of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance [everything gained during the seven years of plenty] in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage [or consume] the land [indicates the magnitude of the famine].
41:31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe.
41:32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms [this emphasized the importance of the message of the dreams; recall that Joseph’s dream about his brothers was also repeated (cf. Gen. 37:5-1)] is that the matter has been firmly decided [speaks of certainty] by God, and God will do it soon [speaks of imminence].
41:33 “And now [after interpreting Pharaoh’s dreams, Joseph courageously offered practical advice about how to deal with the situation] let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt [the Scripture does not indicate that Joseph was seeking this job for himself].
41:34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth [20%] of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance.
41:35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities [perhaps cities strategically located for distribution efforts in the future and cities where the grain could be protected] for food.
41:36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.”
41:37 The plan seemed good [they saw the wisdom of Joseph’s suggestion to prepare for coming difficulties] to Pharaoh and to all his officials.
41:38 So Pharaoh asked [his question was rhetorical] them [his officials and advisors], “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?”
41:39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you [Pharaoh gave God the credit for Joseph’s insight and wisdom], there is no one so discerning and wise as you.
41:40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders [Joseph’s word would be law throughout the land]. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you [Joseph was made one of the most powerful men in Egypt].”
Note: Pharaoh had gained valuable administrative experience while in Potiphar’s household (Gen. 39:1-6) and while he was in prison (Gen. 39:21-23).