After being falsely accused of assaulting his master’s wife, Joseph is thrown into jail, where he languishes for nine years, after which he is joined by two of Pharaoh’s senior staff – the royal butler and the royal baker.
Following a year of joint incarceration, the butler and the baker each have a vivid dream, and seek Joseph’s guidance to find out what their dream might mean. Joseph offers his interpretations and is soon proven correct in every detail, as a result of which he was called upon to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams two years later.
In narrative terms this entire episode seems to be nothing more than the leadup to the story of Pharaoh’s dreams later on. But is there a message or lesson intrinsic to this story that teaches us some unique details about Joseph and who he was?
Rabbi Dunner carefully works through the text of Bereishit 40, and demonstrates how important this story is as part of the series of narratives that make up the last section of Genesis.
Image: Volmarijn, Crijn Hendricksz (ca. 1604-1645), Joseph Interpreting the Dreams of Pharaoh’s Butler and Baker, ca. 1631-1637, Oil on panel.