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The Baker and the Cupbearer

Genesis 40:1-23

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Joseph stayed in the prison cell for many days. Then one morning two prisoners came to Joseph. They had a problem. “We had terrible dreams last night. Can you tell us what they mean?”

Joseph said, “I can’t help you, but my God can.”

The first man had been Pharaoh’s cup bearer. He said, “In my dream I saw a vine. On the vine were three branches. As soon as the branches had little flowers on them, the blossoms became grapes. Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand. I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and gave it to him.”

Joseph said a quiet prayer, asking God for help. Then he knew the answer. “This is what your dream means. The three branches are three days. In three days Pharaoh will say you are free. But, please,” Joseph added, “could you mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison?”

The second man had been Pharaoh’s chief baker. He said, “In my dream there were three baskets of pastries on my head. In the top basket were pastries for Pharaoh. Then birds landed on me. They ate the pastries which were meant for Pharaoh.”

Joseph took a deep breath. God had shown him what the dream meant. It was not nice. “The three baskets mean three days. In three days’ time Pharaoh will cut off your head and the birds will eat your dead body.”

Three days later, it happened exactly as Joseph had predicted.

Two long years went by. All that time Joseph heard nothing from Pharaoh’s cup bearer. He kept busy taking care of the other prisoners. He shared his food with them and scrubbed the cells. Day in and day out he saw the sunshine stream through the barred windows. He prayed that God might help him become free someday.

One morning in the palace, Pharaoh woke up yelling, “I’ve had such a bad dream! But it was so real, I’m sure it means something very important. “Pharaoh looked at his servants. “Don’t just stand there, find someone who knows what dreams mean!” he roared at them. The servants hopped away in fright.

All the wizards, magicians and wise men came. They listened as Pharaoh told them about his dreams. They looked at charts, drew pictures on their scrolls, then shook their heads. No, they did not know what the dreams could mean.

The royal cup bearer stood next to Pharaoh. He made sure Pharaoh’s cup stayed full of wine. It was not an easy thing to do when Pharaoh was so angry.

Suddenly, the cup bearer remembered a promise he had made. He felt terrible that he had forgotten Joseph for so long.

“Pharaoh,” the cup bearer said. “When I was in prison, I made a promise to a Hebrew slave. He told me what my dream meant. I was supposed to tell you about him.