A couple of years passed, and Pharaoh had a dream. He was standing on the bank of the Nile when suddenly seven of the most well-fed cows came up out of the water and started munching on the reeds. Then, seven more cows, wretched and famished, came up for air and swallowed up the pretty cows. Pharaoh woke up and turned over in his bed.
Falling asleep again, he dreamed of seven fat ears of grain growing on a single stalk. Then, seven wind-blasted and small ears sprouted up and choked out the quality shoots. Pharaoh woke up again, troubled by all he’d seen in the night.
He recounted these disturbing images to every Egyptian magician in the vicinity, but no one knew how to interpret them. Then he called for every “wise man” and seer in the district. Again, he told them his dreams, but no one offered an answer to their meaning.
Then the chief cupbearer spoke up. “How could I be so stupid?” he asked, giving his forehead a sound palm slap. “When the baker and I went to prison, we both had dreams during the same night. A young Hebrew, he interpreted our dreams correctly, for he foretold of my vindication and the baker’s demise.
“You’re right to ask the question,” Pharaoh said. “How could you be so stupid?” Then he turned to a servant guarding the hall entrance. “Bring me the Hebrew at once!”
Joseph shaved his head, changed his clothes, and presented himself low to the ground before the ruler of all Egypt.
“I’m told you’re an interpreter of dreams,” he said to the thirty-year-old prisoner.
Joseph lifted his head and answered, “I don’t interpret them, but God will give the answers you seek.”
“Whatever,” Pharaoh said, skeptical of the Hebrew holy roller. “Look, I was standing by the Nile, and seven fat cows came up to feed on the grass. Then seven skinny cows came after them and swallowed up the fat cows. The seven skinny cows were still skinny. In my second dream, I saw seven fat ears of grain on one stalk. Then, seven withered ears came up and choked out the healthy ones. The magi were unable to give me an answer. What say you?”
“Is that all?” Joseph asked.
“They’re both the same dream,” Joseph said. “God has revealed to you what He’s about to do.”
Pharaoh wasn’t any closer to divining the meaning of his dreams. “Perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me what God has so clearly revealed to me.”
“Lord,” Joseph continued, “The seven fat cows and the seven fat ears are seven years of harvest. The seven skinny cows and the seven thin ears are seven years of famine. Like I said, God has given you the meaning of your dream.”
“Indulge me,” Pharaoh said, impatiently. “Are you giving me the weather forecast for the next fourteen years?”
“Precisely, Lord,” Joseph said, standing to his feet. “And as sure as the god of Egypt has dreamed it, it will come to pass.”
Pharaoh scratched his goatee. “Anything else?”
Joseph bowed. “If it pleases my Lord, let Pharaoh put an expert in charge of agriculture. Elect district managers to collect one-fifth of the land’s produce for the next seven years. Store up grain reserves in every city, under your authority, of course. When the famine comes, you’ll be a hero.”
By the time Joseph finished what he had to say, his face was perceptibly radiant. The guards approached to escort him from Pharaoh’s presence.
“Wait,” Pharaoh said. “Is there any other like him? This man hosts the spirit of God Himself.”
Inspiration: Genesis 41