Reading through the Bible together
Gen 41 continues the same theme from Gen 40 in one way. After two more years in prison, in part due to the forgetfulness of the cupbearer, we have a story reminiscent of Nebuchadnezzar's dream in this sense: Both kings had dreams that the magicians and wisemen cannot interpret and both dreams are interpreted by a Hebrew captive. I suspect that once the cupbearer remembered Joseph, he probably Joseph's character and talents to Pharaoh. It would seem reasonable that before calling for Joseph bases solely on the cupbearer's story, the king probably verified the information with prison officials. Hence the king would have been aware of testimony to both Joseph's character and talents. In addition, due to Joseph's favor with prison leadership, it would not be surprising if they told him that they had put a good word into the king for him. How tempting might it have been, then, after two MORE years of captivity for a crime he never committed, to try to court favor by tweaking and adjusting the message to sound be more palatable and appealing to the king. Maybe he could have only proclaimed the seven years of plenty, while skipping the famine, or perhaps he could have applied the seven years of famine to someone else, or the like. But Joseph did not adjust the message to court the king's favor. He delivered the it accurately and fully, though certainly with all possible tact and respect. Again we see Joseph surpass Judah's egoistic concern for projecting a politically favorable image. This is further reinforced by Joseph's immediate rejoinder to Pharaoh that he had no ability to interpret dreams. It was God's gift that made that possible. Joseph's humility, integrity, and overall character thus shine forth in contrast to Judah's chameleon-like personality.
One promoted to power, much as with Potiphar, Joseph is made equal to Pharaoh except in matters of the throne. In all this we see no sign of lingering bitterness or malice. Somehow, Joseph will suffer being almost murdered by his brothers, kidnapped and sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused of attempted rape, falsely imprisoned on the basis of the fraudulent charge, yet he will later ascribe God's providential leading in all to prepare salvation for his family from the famine. It appears Joseph had a simple, unwavering faith that God would somehow resolve the injustices in His good time. Such faith enables one to be gracious in the face of injustice and illtreatment.
Professor of Theology and Ethics
Southern Adventist University
Collegedale, Tennessee, USA