Guided by God

KEY VERSE: “God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” —Genesis 41:52

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Genesis 41:38-44, 46-52

JOSEPH was still a young man when he became ruler in Egypt, being only thirty years of age. At this age he embarked upon a mission that was to preserve the life, not only of his own people, but of the Egyptians as well.

A short time earlier, when Pharaoh discovered that his trusted wise men and magicians were unable to interpret his dreams for him, he was greatly distressed. Hearing about Joseph and his unusual power to decipher dreams he had him taken from prison and brought before him. When Pharaoh said why he had sent for him, Joseph was quick to deny any special ability of his own. But, as on former occasions, he gave the credit to the Lord. He said to the king, “It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” The years Joseph had languished in prison had not embittered him. He still trusted in the Lord and was quick to give the glory to him for any ability he might possess.

Pharaoh related his dreams, telling of the seven fat trine, or cows, and the seven lean trine; also the seven full ears of corn and the seven thin ears. Seemingly with the thought of impressing upon Joseph what truly difficult dreams these were to interpret, he explained that the magicians had failed to reveal what they meant.

Joseph’s approach to the problem was direct, and in a single sentence he simplified his answer by explaining that both dreams meant the same thing, that they were “one.” “The seven good trine are seven years,” he said, “and the seven good ears are seven years: the dream is one.”

The dream foreshadowed a period of fourteen years—seven years of plenty, represented by the fat kine and the full ears; and seven years of famine, represented by the lean kine and the thin ears. The dream was doubled, explained Joseph, because the thing was assured by God, and he would shortly bring it to pass. This method of establishing a truth was in keeping with the Lord’s arrangement that every great truth must be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses. So both the kine and the ears testified concerning the seven years of plenty, to be followed by seven years of famine. Thus there could be no doubt about the coming fourteen years in the land of Egypt.

Joseph not only interpreted Pharaoh’s dreams for him, but added some excellent advice. This also was timely. When Pharaoh learned what was about to occur in the land over which he was king, he was doubtless greatly disturbed. Joseph, noting this, offered his well-timed and wise counsel concerning the appointment of a food administrator, one who would see to it that during the fat years surpluses were stored and preserved, that thus there would be a provision to see the nation through the seven years of famine.

As Pharaoh listened to Joseph’s advice, he was impressed. It was obvious that if Joseph could interpret his dreams, and then frame a plan so quickly to meet the emergency they portended, he would be the best choice to fill the position of food administrator. So Joseph was given the position, with dictatorial powers to act in accord with what he thought would be best.

Nor was this assignment of power to Joseph made privately, for Pharaoh arranged that this new ruler in the realm should be paraded before the people, and that they should be made to bow to him. Those with less love for the Lord and less desirous to give glory to him, might have had their perspective of life distorted by such sudden exaltation, but it did not affect Joseph. He was made a virtual dictator, yet there is no record that the people ever complained of oppression under his rulership.

We read that during those seven years of plenty the earth brought forth by “handfuls.” Apparently this was an expression used in ancient times to denote an abundance, an overflowing supply.

During the seven years of plenty, two sons were born to Joseph—Manasseh and Ephraim. Manasseh means ‘forgetting’, and Joseph gave this name to his firstborn, for, said he, God “hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house.”

Ephraim means ‘fruitful’, and Joseph gave this name to his second son because, as he explained, “God hash caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.” These sidelights on Joseph’s attitude toward his experiences emphasize that with him the Lord came first in everything.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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